Essanay Niles Silent Film Museum
Old Town Niles District, Fremont, CA
Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” character first appeared on the streets of Niles. Bronco Billy Anderson, the first cowboy movie star, produced many early westerns in Niles Canyon and on Nile’s main street. Gloria Swanson and Tom Mix are other famous silent movie stars who performed for Essanay Studios here in Niles before it moved to Hollywood.
The old Edison Theater building, an authentic nicklelodeon (this term was originally used to describe a small 5-cent theater), now houses one of the most important silent film museums in the world. Established in 1913 during Nile’s silent film glory days, this museum is still around. You’ll find it small but fantastic for silent movie buffs. Otherwise a quick run through may suffice.
Every year the town celebrates its silent film heyday with a Charlie Chaplin Days event.
phone: (510) 494-1411
hours: Run by volunteers, the museum is open 12-4 pm weekends only.
filmings: On weekend evenings there are also a variety of silent movie showings ($7) accompanied by live piano playing just the was it was back in 1913.
links: website, yelp