First film of Kansas City - George Curtiss and his Camera

Photographer and filmmaker at the turn of the 20th Century

Mr. and Mrs. George Curtiss (1922) by unknownKansas City Museum

George Curtiss moved to Kansas City with his family in 1881 and opened his photography studio in the Ridge Building in 1885. In this photo, an older George can be seen posing next to his wife.

Film - The Junction (1897-05-15/1897-07-03) by George CurtissKansas City Museum

In 1897 George ordered and received an "animatograph" a machine that could record and project motion pictures. This is the earliest film George Curtiss did in KC of "The Junction" in May 1897.

This is what "The Junction" looks like today. The "Muse of the Missouri" fountain can be seen in center left, marking the original location of the Junction Building.

Film - Memorial Day Parade (1897-05-31) by George CurtissKansas City Museum

In this film done in May 1897, George Hale and his award-winning firemen can be seen at 11th and Grand Streets, marching in formation during a Memorial Day Parade

11th and Grand streets today.

Film - "Cannonball" mule line (1897-07-07) by George CurtissKansas City Museum

The "Cannonball" mule street car ran along Broadway. This line was the last to operate with mules and would be electrified just a few months later in September 1897

Film - train arriving at Fairmount Park (1897-05-15/1897-07-03) by George CurtissKansas City Museum

The "Airline" train ran from Independence to Kansas City and stopped at Fairmount Park, an amusement park on the east side of the city. Members of a marching band can be seen exiting the train.

Film - "Kansas City Dancer" (1897-06-28) by George CurtissKansas City Museum

In a short film done for Fairmount Park, the Kansas City Dancer is Merri Osborne. Her style and dress were considered offensive by some and a group of church women called for her arrest.

Film - promotion for "Mickey" (1919-03-16/1919-04-05) by George CurtissKansas City Museum

By 1919 George was managing The Doric, a motion picture theater at 908 Walnut in KC. This film was a promo for a feature film playing at the theater, "Mickey"

The location of the Doric Theater at 908 Walnut today.

Howard Curtiss (circa 1920) by unknownKansas City Museum

George instilled his love for photography in his son Howard. Howard continued filming and photographing after his fathers death in 1936. Howard can be seen here atop a "trolley" automobile.

Film - rail platform at Union Station (1925) by George CurtissKansas City Museum

Film shot (by Howard) on a car moving along tracks, showing another car moving along track with a person filming, sort of a "film of a film". Taken as the car enters the head house of Union Station.

Film - trench digging (1930-03-13) by Howard CurtissKansas City Museum

One of the latest Curtiss films in the collection, this shows a trench for a natural gas line being dug on Linwood Boulevard in KC - a woman can be seen coming out on the porch to watch the progress.

Credits: Story

The Kansas City Museum would like to thank Laurie Kelliher, for the generous donation of the Curtiss collection.

We can all experience KC over one hundred years ago thanks to this gift.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Kansas City: Smoke Rings and the Finer Things
From murals to the Monarchs, and from bebop to burnt ends
View theme
Google apps