Entertainment—a movie or a live show—has always been important to the people of Des Moines. It’s hard to believe that at one time they could feed their appetite for the arts for just a quarter, but that’s exactly how much an evening show at the Majestic Theatre cost in the early 1900s. Many people would grab a few coins and attend a live act or feature there before the space was transformed into the Garrick, a burlesque house, and then the President, a live theater, before it was torn down in 1938.
If none of the acts at the Majestic Theatre sounded appealing, Des Moines residents could watch a play at the Princess Theatre. If they were lucky, they might have witnessed several vaudeville, stage, and movie stars on that stage well before their big breaks into show biz.
At the end of the vaudeville era, the Empress Theatre was converted from a stage for live acts into the Galaxy Cinema for moving pictures, which just goes to show how Des Moines has evolved to keep up with entertainment trends.
Clockwise from top: Majestic Theatre • The Empress • The Princess