Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Edison Arms

Recently, I was reading about my area of the Bronx, and I came across an interesting historical tidbit. It turns out that Thomas Edison's largest movie studio, which was built in 1907, was located on the corner of Decatur Avenue and Oliver Place, only a few blocks from my apartment.

In 1910, the Edison company filmed the first Frankenstein movie in this studio. Later, they used it to film the first serial movie. In 1915, Raoul Barre produced some of the first animated movies there. He was later followed by Walt Disney, who filmed Steamboat Willie in the building, and the Terry brothers, who made the first full-color cartoons, "Terrytoons," on the site.

According to McNamara's Old Bronx, the studio hosted some of the most famous Broadway stars of the day, and residents of the area would often be surprised by the famous people strolling down their streets. One of Ethel Merman's earliest films was made here, and Milton Berle used to hang around the place looking for a job.

By 1972, the studio had been razed. Since then, the building that replaced it, the Gramercy Boys Club, has also been destroyed. Today, the only reference to the landmark studios that once occupied this site is the "Edison Arms" Apartment building. Here's what it looks like (the studio site is on the left):

And here's what it looked like in its heyday:

Here's the interior:

And here's Steamboat Willie:

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  • That Edison was everywhere. My kids were both born in Edison, NJ.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At December 11, 2007 at 8:12 AM  

  • The amazing, omnipotent Edison! And, of course, his famed Lighthouse recorded "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes."

    I went to Edison NJ once with my dad. He wanted to take me to see Edison's laboratory. It was closed at the time, as they'd recently discovered some carcinogens in the joint.

    By Blogger Crankster, At December 11, 2007 at 7:03 PM  

  • Carcinogens in Edison's lab. They didn't have penicillin in those days, cancer was so far down the line as a killer that I doubt they were aware of it.

    By Blogger The CEO, At December 11, 2007 at 11:01 PM  

  • Loved how those old-timeys depicted the blacks and Irish!

    By Blogger M@, At December 11, 2007 at 11:39 PM  

  • good lord, it's mortimer mouse!!

    By Blogger Claudia, At December 12, 2007 at 12:47 AM  

  • I prefer the way it looked in the old days

    By Blogger Nosjunkie, At December 12, 2007 at 2:45 AM  

  • How charming, except, as Matt says, for the ethnic sterotyping...


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At December 12, 2007 at 5:15 AM  

  • How cool was that interior shot!

    By Anonymous Franki, At December 12, 2007 at 7:01 AM  

  • You bring out the everthing!!! Hurray for you!

    By Blogger Odat, At December 13, 2007 at 11:13 AM  

  • CEO-
    Yeah, it's kind of like DDT--it's only a problem if you live long enough. Of course, you only live long enough if you don't have to worry about fleas, bedbugs, and lice. And you don't have to worry about them if you use DDT!

    And the Jews, and the Catholics...

    Just down the road in the opposite direction is Griffith's studio!

    I don't believe you just threw in an Outland reference. You rock!

    And these were the nicest pictures that I could take. It's kind of a slum.

    And the casual violence!

    It's amazing how they just churned out the movies!

    Thanks! My wife told me not to use the depressing long-distance pictures!

    By Blogger Crankster, At December 13, 2007 at 8:21 PM  

  • The reference to Terrytoons especially interested me as my mother's uncle was Manny Davis, one of the honchos there.

    We used to visit him and his family in New Rochelle, where the studio was located.

    When I was 5, he sent me a story board with all the TT characters wishing Susie a happy birthday, but I was unimpressed because I knew more about the Disney characters. I wish I had it now.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, At December 13, 2007 at 11:25 PM  

  • Hearts-
    That is so amazingly cool! Too bad about the storyboard, though.

    By Blogger Crankster, At December 15, 2007 at 3:20 PM  

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