The proverbial “digital divide” creates a chasm between those with access to technology and those without, but another discourse flies under radar: the digital divide also demolishes connections to history. Over the past decade, many elements of the Golden Era of Hollywood have been outmoded by advanced technology; cameras no longer require celluloid film and movie theaters converted to digital projectors. The precursor to this technological dominance actually began in the 1970s and 1980s due an industrial shift. As a result of this industrial shift, one of the most well-remembered movie palaces of the Texas Panhandle, The Paramount Theater, fell victim to the introduction of multiplexes and mall cinemas. In 1975, the Paramount Theater closed its doors while the community shut its eyes to a relic of the booming Amarillo township. Before its decline, the Paramount Theater served as the metaphorical heart of Amarillo, and without its working presence, the vitality and sense of community dissipated. Amarillo, as a whole, no longer functioned as a collective family of moviegoers, but rather a divided city separated by class.
Movie palaces began popping up in the early 1910s in order to accommodate feature film productions too prolonged for nickelodeons or vaudeville houses. In turn, moviegoing became an experience of escapism and leisure as audiences followed more complex and lengthy narratives. Palace aesthetics operated specifically to “provide its patrons with a sense of individuality”, regardless of their social and economic class; elaborate African, Oriental, and later Art Deco designs of the palaces were meant to provide a feeling of upper class for the lower class audiences. Exterior “iconographic features” such as box offices, marquees, and lit blade signs extending from the side of the building were constructed to impress upon moviegoers an interior presence. Charlotte Herzog’s article “The Movie Palace and Theatrical Sources of Its Architectural Style” claims “the marquee and the sidewalk below formed parenthetic arms that enveloped and funneled [customers] into the theater”. These parenthetical arms captured any and every demographic gathered beneath them and immersed patrons in the “safety, comfort, and luxury of its interior”.