Scenic USA - Florida

Duval Street Strand

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Duval Street Strand - Key West, Florida

Photos by Duane Bender
Dakota Cowboy Photography

     The Mark brothers, Mitchell and Moe, are credited for starting the world's first permanent Buffalo based movie theater in 1896. By 1914, these creative New Yorkers took a gamble and spent a million dollars on the Mark Strand Palace Theater in Times Square. In just a few years the Strand name was protected by the New York Supreme Court and a chain of theaters spread throughout the United States and Canada. While there are more than a 100 old theaters found in Duval Street Strand - Key West, Florida New York, a few dozen are thinly sprinkled over the Florida map.
     In the heart of Key West on Duval Street, the Strand's front facade has been carefully restored; and is now the unusual store front of a neighborhood Walgreens. Almost a century ago, this Strand Theater sat 800 people, offering southern Floridians a look at silent films and the latest talking pictures of the day. Here on Duval Street, named after the first territorial governor and home to a string of famous restaurants and bars, the Strand Theatre operated into the 80's, losing out to home theaters and movies complexes. After a few businesses tried the location, Walgreens bought the property in early 2002, restoring the marquee and retaining the interior balcony. It's a novel store front and the exception for a chain of 7000 cookie-cutter drugstores that operate in every state of America.

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