Finish Your Dinner, We’re Going to See a Show!


The images found in the Department of City Transit record group are about so much more than simply recording the construction of subways and trolley lines. This photo, taken in 1919 around 10th and Arch Streets is a prime example. Yes, a trolley car and tracks can be seen in the picture, but we also see examples of World War I propaganda and other forms of period advertising, as well as the historic Trocadero Theatre.

The theatre, seen here on the right hand side, was first built in 1870. It was damaged by several fires in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The theatre became known as the Trocadero in 1896, at which time it opened as a burlesque theatre. It remains the oldest burlesque house in Philadelphia. At the time this photo was taken, the acts being advertised included one called The Grown Up Babies. The venue continued operations as a burlesque theatre until sometime after World War II. Then the Trocadero, or “the Troc,” led a few short lives as a pornographic theatre and as a Chinese cinema. It was renovated back to its nineteenth-century appearance in the late 1970s. Its owners again transformed it in 1986, this time into a concert venue.