Movies Way Back When: The First SB Movie?

By Betsy J. Green

It’s always hard to pin down something that’s said to be the first, but here goes. In 1904, our local paper reported:

“This morning at 10 o’clock the local fire department will be photographed by a moving picture camera while it makes a dash from the city hall down State Street as far as Cota.” – Morning Press, December 22, 1904

Then, a few weeks later:

“At the opera house [the old Lobero Theater] . . . Don’t fail to see the Santa Barbara fire department run, taken by the Bioscope [see image] company, the first and only moving picture ever taken here.” – Morning Press, January 23, 1905

Betsy’s Way Back When book — 1919 — is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.

Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

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