A Golden Age of Movie-Going in Charlotte

Longtime resident Dallas Richardson fondly recalled going to the movies during their heyday in the city. The cowboy movies that were featured at the Alhambra (later the State theater) were especially captivating to a young boy. “We went downtown . . . to see our favorite cowboys . . . the Alhambra had them . . . I always went on a Saturday morning. I’d walk two blocks to catch the streetcar, go down town to the movies, and, I think, for 25 cents I could go see that movie. That would be my streetcar fare down and back . . . and buy a 5 cent box of popcorn or some candy and see the movie, all for 25 cents.”

But of all the theaters in Charlotte, it was the Carolina Theatre that left the greatest impression. “To me there was really only one big [theater]; that was the Carolina. That was the queen of them all, the flagship.”

South Carolinian Walt Morton, who traveled up from York County to see movies at the Carolina when he was a young boy, similarly marveled at the theater’s unrivaled elegance and beauty. It was simply “one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen—I thought it was a palace.”


Jim Lewellen and Douglas Gomery, “Chronicling the Carolinas’ Theaters,” Marquee 18, no. 3 (1986): 3-6.
Dallas Richardson, “Reminiscences of Movie-Going in Charlotte, NC” Marquee 18, no. 3 (1986): 7.
Lawrence Toppman, “’Kong’ 2nd film at ‘rilly cool’ Carolina,” Charlotte Observer, August 17, 1996.