The Burning of Durland's Riding Academy
Fires reported on the front page of New York newspapers routinely brought filmmakers to the scene. Such films were popular in vaudeville houses and fulfilled the cinema's mandate as a "visual newspaper." The fire at Durland's Riding Academy, on Manhattan's west side, between Sixty-first and Sixty-second streets, certainly met this criterion. The panning camera captured firemen hosing down the still smoldering remains. Since the film was only of local importance, it was renamed FIREMEN FIGHTING THE FLAMES AT PATERSON and sold as footage of a better-known event. Re-labeling films to increase their commercial potential was neither unusual nor "naïve," but consistent with the highly opportunistic business ethics of Edison and other film producers.