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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Paramount Film Exchange

Once used to screen films for theater owners to rent, this historic building is now a start up hub. 

The imposing brick building at 1725 Boulevard of the Allies was once part of a whole district of places where theater managers would come to view and rent films for their businesses, directly from the studios themselves. But today, it is one of the last relics of a bygone business. 

Built in the 1920s, the old Paramount Film Exchange was just one of a series of such screening centers where theater owners would come to view films before renting them for showing in their establishments. The area was known as “Film Row” since, in addition to the Paramount Film Exchange, there was also a nearby establishment run by 20th Century Fox, and another run by Warner Brothers. The exchanges had both screening rooms and vaults where the prints could be held.

The exchanges operated until the 1980s when VHS tapes made screening the films much simpler, eliminating the need for print screening rooms. Most of the other exchanges were converted or converted after they were no longer needed. However the Paramount Exchange was simply abandoned and left standing for almost 20 years.

Thanks to the efforts of locals in recent years, the film exchange was marked as a historic building and saved from demolition. Now most of the space is home to a cutting edge co-working space. On the outside of the building, the old terra cotta Paramount logo can still be seen harkening back to the days when film row was actually about film.