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old film row history


KC's Film Row

Hollywood has always had a connection to the Heartland. It gets its name from a retired Topeka, Kan., couple who bought property in the foothills west of Los Angeles and, in 1887, established the City of Hollywood. When moving pictures made the move from East to West Coast, filmmakers from around the world flocked to Hollywood. The actors soon followed. And many of Hollywood’s brightest stars came from Kansas City including Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Ginger Rogers, and Ed Asner.

Needing more centralized distribution points to ship their features nationwide, Hollywood chose Kansas City as one of its largest and Kansas City’s Film Row was born. The industrial enclave occupied nearly twenty buildings in a four square block area of the Crossroads District near downtown. Film Row counted as tenants such major studios as MGM, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and United Artists. It also housed peripheral suppliers to the industry, most notably the Manley Popcorn Company the makers of those wonderful popcorn poppers that made popcorn the “must eat” snack of moviegoers everywhere.

The roots of Hollywood animation reach to Walt Disney’s Laugh-O-Gram studios in Kansas City, where he started making animated films in 1922. The character Mickey Mouse is said to have been inspired by a pet he kept at the studio … a loveable little local rodent.

Generations of talented and experienced directors, producers and support crews honed their skills in Kansas City, including native son Robert Altman.   Altman returned to shoot “Kansas City” in 1995, and hastened the renovation of Union Station, now a Kansas City centerpiece.

Altman is far from alone in choosing Kansas City and its surroundings as their backlot. There’s Joshua Logan’s “Picnic” … Richard Brooks’ Truman Capote classic “In Cold Blood” … James Ivory’s “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge” … Howard Deutch’s “Article 99″ … Ang Lee’s “Ride With The Devil” … and ABC-TV’s “The Day After,” which is still considered to be the most-watched and highest-rated TV event in the history of television.

Advisory Committee Logo

This location was identified by the Advisory Committee as the "heart" of Old Film Row.



Old Film Row Building



Old Film Row Street



Old Film Row and the larger Crossroads Community is a diverse area. It’s mix of office, commercial, residential, art studios and galleries, and light industrial comprises a dynamic urban environment.

Between 1920 and 1960, Film Row was the area in the Crossroads Art District. The area that was between 17th and 19th streets on Central, and between Wyandotte and Broadway on 18th Street, was called Film Row, and for a good reason. At one time, not all that long ago, this row was hopping as it was the Midwest’s connection to Hollywood and film distribution.

Every major Hollywood Studio had distribution offices on Film Row. There was Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Allied Artists, MGM, Universal Pictures, United Artists, and Walt Disney. Each office facilitated the distribution of motion pictures to the Midwest’s theater screens.

The tall building at the Southwest corner of 18th and Wyandotte was the national headquarters to the largest distributor of movie advertising accessories around and was called the National Screen Service. It not only shipped trailers, posters, and ad materials to theaters around here, but it shipped the accessories nationwide.

The Crossroads Art District is dipped in historical significance for Kansas City. This is why we chose it to be our location for Silver Screen Salon. We want to be associated with that historical vibe of the Old Hollywood. We want you to get an amazing hairstyle with all the glitz and glamour that radiates off of the Crossroads Art District history. Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart may not be our clients, but we can make you feel like you’re a star of their magnitude for a day!


Kansas City’s Old Film Row represents an important under-recognized historical testimony to Hollywood's film distribution industry and a significant part of Kansas City's heritage. Old Film Row is unique because most of the original structures built by the motion picture studios have survived, and they are concentrated within a four-block area. It represents the only known ‘Film Row’ still intact in the country.

Although the film distribution industry is now part of Kansas City’s history, the buildings have survived and stand as a ‘bridge’ between the past, present, and future.

Old Film Row Building



Old Film Row Building
Old Film Row Building



Old Film Row Building

old film row buildings


1. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
2. Columbia Pictures
3. 20th Century Fox

4. Universal Pictures

5. Orion Pictures/Film Delivery

6. Warner Bros.

7. Monogram Pictures

8. Walt Disney Co.

9. National Screen Service

10. Screenland Cafe’

11. Stuben Theatre Supply

12. Paramount Pictures

13. Commonwealth Theaters/Republican Pictures

14. Midwest Theatrical Sign Co.

15. United Artists Corporation

16. Fox Film Corporation

17. Berkowitz Envelope Co./Manley Popcorn

18. Durwood Theaters







Old Film Production



Old Film Production

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