A look back at the Nickel

posted by Michael Zoldessy on July 31, 2008 at 8:45 am

BANGOR, ME — This story revisits the history of the town’s first regular movie theater, the Nickel Theatre.

The new movie theaters in Bangor and other cities across the nation became one of the great democratic institutions a century ago. Almost anyone could afford the nickel admission. A fellow with a nickel, perhaps a shoe shine boy, could find himself sitting next to the man whose shoes he had shined that morning. But he had to know how to act. No hissing, spitting, or wearing big hats. And be careful of that sneezing powder.

By the summer of 1908, Bangor’s first full-time movie theater, The Nickel, was only a year old. A competitor, The Gem, had existed for just a few months. Thousands flocked to see the flickering films and to sing along with the illustrated songs. A whole new class of people including farmhands and shop girls as well as the impoverished inhabitants of Hancock Street and what remained of the Devil’s Half Acre turned out. They were people who were rarely, if ever, seen at the Bangor Opera House, where the fare – plays, polite vaudeville and an occasional movie of import – was more sophisticated and expensive.

Read the full story in the Bangor News.

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