America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940

By Foster Rhea Dulles | Go to book overview

A CHAPTER XVII
THE GROWTH OF THE MOVIES

THREE EVENTS TOOK PLACE IN THE YEAR 1895 WHICH PASSED almost unnoticed in a world absorbed in affairs of more immediate importance: Two young men who had been following the path pointed out by Edison's invention of the kinetoscope succeeded in throwing moving pictures on a screen at a public performance at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta. This countrys first motor-vehicle race was held at Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, two of the six entries (gasoline-driven) actually completing the fifty-two-mile course in a little over ten and onehalf hours. And, on the other side of the Atlantic, Guglielmo Marconi publicly demonstrated (although the continuing skepticism of the Italian Government sent him the next year to England) the practicality of wireless telegraphy.1

The generation of the 1890's could not possibly realize the significance of these milestones in the progress of human invention. But here were dimly foreshadowed developments which were to have the broadest social consequences and affect recreation in this country more profoundly than anything that had ever happened before. There was to be a great expansion in sports and other diversions in the twentieth century, but within a strikingly short time from these inconspicuous events of 1895, moving pictures, the pleasure use of automobiles, and the radio were to become by every criterion the principal amusements of the great majority of American people.

Their popularity was a result of the changing social and economic scene. A century earlier it would not have been possible. The increased leisure and generally higher standard of living

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America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xv
  • Chapter I - In Detestation of Idleness 3
  • Chapter II - Husking-Bees and Tavern Sports 22
  • Chapter III - The Colonial Aristocracy 44
  • Chapter IV - The Frontier 67
  • Chapter V - A Changing Society 84
  • Chapter VI - The Theatre Comes of Age 100
  • Chapter VII - Mr. Barnum Shows the Way 122
  • Chapter VIII - The Beginning of Spectator Sports 136
  • Chapter IX - Mid-Century 148
  • Chapter X - Cow-Towns and Mining-Camps 168
  • Chapter XI - The Rise of Sports 182
  • Chapter XII - The New Order 201
  • Chapter XIII - Metropolis 211
  • Chapter XIV - World of Fashion 230
  • Chapter XV - Main Street 248
  • Chapter XVI - Farm and Countryside 271
  • Chapter XVII - The Growth of the Movies 287
  • Chapter XVIII - A Nation on Wheels 308
  • Chapter XIX - On the Air 320
  • Chapter XX - The Great American Band-Wagon 332
  • Chapter XXI - Sports for All 347
  • Chapter XXII - The New Leisure 365
  • Bibliography 375
  • Notes 391
  • Index 425
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