Movie Pictorial (March 1915)

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18 MOVIE PICTORIAL UNIVERSAL CITY People pour through the main gates every morning In busses automobiles, and on motorcycles. Every night, the same crowds pass through the gates again HE golden land and glorious climate of California has been the home of many wonders since those days of discovery when the flood of hardy Argonauts poured westward. Many cities have risen miraculously about her mines and then vanished with the lost leads of gold, and their inhabitants passed on leaving them a mere memory that the touch of time soon obliterated. The charm of sunshine and picturesque environ- ment have made southern California the very land of heart’s desire for the habitat of the moving picture. Millions of dollars have been invested in motographic plants, and vast numbers of people concerned with the making of moving pictures, have located in that section to serve the demands of the new art form. The latest and most elaborate social, artistic and practical settlement in this direction is a wonder creation known as Universal City. From March the first up to the fifteenth there will be an increase in travel from east to west, and indeed, from north to south, for on that self-same fifteenth, Universal City will have its grand open- ing, and I who know how the heads of the big “U” can conduct such a ceremonial, promise that it will be an event, or rather a series of events which will never be effaced from the memory of all who are fortunate enough to be able to attend. Dear, Oh dear! it does not seem possible that the wonder city could have been attained in so short a period. I came to Los Angeles on March the first, 1912, and applied at the Nestor studios for a job and got it—I needed it too. At that time the Nestor concern boasted of two companies and occupied a plot of ground which is opposite the Hollywood studios and which is now rented by “Features Ideal.” An old roadhouse had been converted into offices, and there was a small stage. As the months went on the roadhouse was added to and the stage en- larged and small laboratories were built and operated. Then came the amalgamation of several Independent companies into the organization known as the Universal, and buildings sprang up in all directions, and one company after another was added, so that everyone was treading on everyone else’s toes. A full block was taken opposite the old studios with an amazing number of buildings, laboratories, dressing rooms, and with the largest stage in the universe. In addition there was a ranch of hundreds of acres with more stages and buildings. The need of concentration became absolute and the germ of the Wonder City came into being, and the active brain of Isadore Bernstein, the western general manager, found work to his liking, and if ever a man had cause to be proud of his labors, surely he is that man for he has labored night and day on plans and specifications and his multi- farious duties at the studios have been added to, for he has overseen everything and his finger has been in every pie. Result—Universal City, the biggest thing of its kind in the world, a sort of seventh wonder, a colossal industry of a most interesting nature. Universal City is located some four miles from Hollywood on the high road to Lanltershim, to Santa Barbara and San Francisco. After passing Cahuenga Pass there is a sharp turn in the road, and the main buildings of Universal City appear glistening in their white dresses in the sun. T O GIVE an idea of the real importance of this concern I would point out that Universal City is the only incorporated town which is devoted ex- clusively to the Motion Picture Industry; it has its own local government, its own police and fire-de- partments, a huge menagerie, sixteen miles of sewage, its own water supply from artesian wells furnishing 300,000 gallons per diem, an electric lighting system, a lake and many other novel and picturesque features. One of the most interesting things about this place is that all of the buildings are so constructed that they can be changed almost at will for the re- quirements of picture making; they can be altered over night and then resume their normal aspect when the scenes are taken. It is the same with the bridges and with everything else which has been erected aside from the stages. Here, today, you Vastly Inter- esting are the dressing rooms of the artists, con- venience and comfort has been studied, every room has hot and cold water and other conveniences can walk across a Japanese arch bridge, a Roman paved or Cantilever bridge, a Venetian bridge, an American trestle, and an English causeway, or Japanese pontoon bridge; tomorrow, all this could be turned around, changed as by the magic of leger- demain, and in the same place, you would find your footsteps leading you through and over other con- structed wonders. TT HAS been called a “Chameleon City,” for it can -*• be changed in three days to conform to any style of architecture of any nation in the world. The twenty producers can remodel Universal City almost in the twinkling of an eye to resemble any of the metro- politan cities of America or Europe. Its interior can be transformed into an Athens, a Rome, a Paris, a London, or a New York, with their various char- acteristics, in so short a time it will take your breath away and cause you to gasp in astonishment. Visitors on the fifteenth will see sixteen com- panies at work in different parts of the seven hundred and fifty acres which comprise the domain of the company. They will see a great war picture and an exciting wild animal photoplay being made among other things, and will rub shoulders with some of the greatest actors and actresses in the business. Every convenience will be provided for the visitor. How often has the patron of a moving picture theater, seated in the shadow watching the portrayal on the screen and marvelling at the action as it passed in quiet, unhurried, yet ever-steady, forward procession, felt the impulse of a desire to see the moving picture in its making—to satisfy an oft repeated conjecture as to the marvelous manner in which it must be created? And again surprise and innovation meet us in the heralding of this Wonder City. “Welcome”