Welcome to the Downtown Theatre Tour!


Downtown's

Historic Movie Palaces

and

Legitimate Theatres


Downtown Los Angeles has one of the most amazing collection of historic movie and legitimate theatres in the country. 

These theatres constitute the largest theater district (and first to be so listed) on the National Register.

It's a wonderfully diverse collection ranging from some of the finest Los Angeles movie palaces to cozy nickelodeons largely unchanged from 1910.

Mayan facade detail >>
[ click to enlarge ]        

The district is unique in both in terms of the number of surviving structures, their state of preservation and the amazing variety of architectural styles.

As the money and business left downtown for Hollywood and other suburban areas in the 20s and 30s, there was little incentive to modernize the downtown theatres. Many of the auditoria are quite unchanged from when they opened.

Sure, we've got retail stores in the lobbies of many of the theatres but beyond that it's an architectural wonderland.

I've wandered around and taken a few pictures and done a bit of research. I hope to point you in the direction of more investigations of Los Angeles theatres using the sources we've detailed in our listings.

This page has a brief rundown of the surviving theatres in the Broadway corridor.  The links with each theater's description will take you to more information.

Have fun exploring!

-- Bill Counter


     on this site...    

    Downtown Theatres by location   

[the theatres we've lost as
well as the survivors]

Main Street Theatres
An exploration of over 50 theaters on what
used to be the Los Angeles theater row.

 Spring Street  Theatres
Interesting tales of theatres just east of Broadway.

Broadway Theatres
Los Angeles movie palaces, grindhouses
and more on the big street. 

Theatres West of Broadway
A tour of theaters on Hill Street,
Olive, Grand and Figueroa.  

Downtown Theatre Directory
A listing of alternate names for the theatres
and a criss-cross directory listing
downtown theatres  street by street

 

    Downtown Survivors   

[indexed from north to south]



Merced Theatre
420 N. Main St.

Million Dollar Theatre
307 S. Broadway

Regent Theatre
448 S. Main St. 

Roxie Theatre
518 S. Broadway

Cameo Theatre
528 S. Broadway

Arcade Theatre
534 S. Broadway

Los Angeles Theatre
615 S. Broadway

Palace Theatre
630 S. Broadway

Warner Bros/Pantages
401 W. 7th St. @ Hill

Loew's State Theatre
703 S. Broadway

Globe Theatre
744 S. Broadway

Olympic Theatre
313 W. 8th St.

Tower Theatre
802 S. Broadway

Rialto Theatre
812 S. Broadway

Orpheum Theatre
842 S. Broadway

Trinity Auditorium
855 S. Grand Ave.

United Artists Theatre / Ace Hotel
933 S. Broadway

Variety Arts Theatre
940 S.Figueroa St.

 Mayan Theatre
1038 S. Hill St.

Belasco Theatre
1050 S. Hill St.

 

    The Vanished    

[our picks for the
   most interesting]


Biltmore Theatre
520 W. 5th St.

Broadway Theatre
428 S. Broadway

Burbank Theatre
548 S. Main

California Theatre
810  S. Main St.

 Criterion / Kinema Theatre
642 S. Grand 

 Follies / Belasco Theatre
337 S. Main

Grand Opera House
110  S. Main St.

Lyceum Theatre
227  S. Spring St.

Majestic Theatre
845  S. Broadway

Mason Theatre
127  S. Broadway

Metropolitan / Paramount Theatre
323 W. 6th St.

 Philharmonic Auditorium
427 W. 5th St.

RKO Hillstreet Theatre
801 S. Hill St.


 

     downtown info...    


    Old Theatres Running Movies    


 The LA Historic Theatre Foundation,
Cinespia and the
LA Conservancy
  sometimes
offer special screenings.


The Conservancy's "Last Remaining Seats"
series of films in historic theatres
runs in May and June.




   New Theatres Running Movies   


Downtown Independent

Regal Cinemas @ L.A. Live

coming soon (maybe):
Alamo Drafthouse
An 8 screen complex at 4th & Main



    Concerts / Special Events    




    Historic Theatres as Clubs    

[ reopening soon ]


    Newer Theatres: music & legit    


Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Disney Hall,
Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, Redcat

Several performance spaces in an
old bank building on Spring St.


    First Film Exhibition    


Grand Opera House - 1896


Tally's Phonograph & Vitascope Parlor - 1896

Tally's Electric Theatre - 1902
Considered to be the first purpose-built
 theatre for film exhibition in Los Angeles.



    Pre-1900 Los Angeles Theatres    


Teatro Alarcon (1848)
[ address not known ]

Union Theatre (1852)
[ address not known ]


Stearns's Hall (1858)
300 block N. Main St.

Temple Theatre (1859)
156 N. Spring St.

Merced Theatre (1871)

548 S. Main St.

Turnverein Hall (1872)
1345 S. Figueroa St.

Woods Opera House (1876)
4th & N. Main St.

Child's / Grand Opera House (1884)
110 S. Main St.

Mott's Hall (1886)
131 S. Main St.


Hazard's Pavilion (1887)
W. 5th and Olive Sts.


Turnverein / Lyceum Hall (1887 ?)
229 S. Spring St.


L.A. / Orpheum / Lyceum Theatre (1888)
227 S. Spring St.

Simpson's Auditorium (1889)
730 S. Hope St.

Tivoli / Cineograph Theatre  (1890)
114 Court St.

Burbank Theatre (1893)
548 S. Main St.

Turn Halle / Regal Theatre (1894)
323 S. Main St.

Blanchard Music Hall (1899)
233 S. Broadway



See our Theatre History Resources page on
the Los Angeles Movie Palaces site.




    Events and Tours    


 LA Historic Theatre Foundation offers "all-about"
tours of historic theatres as well as logistical support
for other events in various venues.

Information about upcoming tours appears on the LAHTF
website. Also keep up to date with the LAHTF Facebook page.

The
Los Angeles Conservancy offers walking tours
of the Broadway theatre district every Saturday morning. 

The Conservancy's
"Last Remaining Seats" series of screenings
in historic theatres offers another chance to see the buildings.
There are occasionally special screenings and other events.

 Also keep an eye on the City's
"Bringing Back Broadway "
initiative
-- a bold program to breathe new life into the
theatre district via a joint
public/private partnership. 

The organization has an e-mail newsletter as well as the
BBB Facebook page for current news about the program.


Above is a vintage view of the

Roxie and Cameo
theatres from the
Bringing Back Broadway
website.   
larger view

Sometimes there are theatre tours in
conjunction with the 2nd Thursday
Downtown Artwalks.



    More Stuff    


hollywood movie palaces

  wilshire corridor theatres

 
more LA movie palaces




 







The Roxie, Cameo and Arcade
theatres on South Broadway.

An early morning view. 


 [ click  to enlarge any of the
photos on this page -- all
are from 2007 unless noted ]

 

    The Downtown Survivors A to W   


Arcade Theatre

534 S. Broadway      |
map |

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Opened: September 26,1910 as the Pantages

Architect: Morgan & Walls

Seating: 1,400

Status:  Closed since 1992. The lobby is now used for retail.

See our Arcade Theatre pages for lots more information and photos:
arcade main page  |  recent exterior views  |
auditorium  |  boxes  |
  stage  |  theatre basement  |
booth  |  lobby  |  lobby basement  |  attic  |  roof  |
office building  |  systems overview
  |


Belasco Theatre

1050 S. Hill St.     |
map |

Los Angeles, CA  90015

Opened: 1926. It was named for noted producer David Belasco.

Architects: Morgan, Walls & Clements.

Seating: 1,601

Status: Closed in 1952. Later used as a church. After decades of sporadic use, it got a multi-million dollar makeover in 2011. It's now alive again as a club and special events venue.

More Information: See our Belasco Theatre pages for information and photos:
main belasco page  |  recent exterior views  |  lobby areas  |
dance studio  |  auditorium  | 
stage  |  basement  |

 

Cameo Theatre

528 S. Broadway
    |
map | 

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Architect: Alfred F. Rosenheim

Opened: October 1910 as Clune's Broadway.

Seating: 900 originally, then 775. It ended up with about 600 in later years. No balcony.

Status:  Closed 1991. Currently retail in the lobby. The 1910 auditorium decor is pretty much intact. The auditorium is currently used for storage.

More Information: See our Cameo Theatre page for more information and photos.


Globe Theatre

744 S. Broadway   
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Architect: Morgan, Walls & Morgan did the Garland Bldg, Alfred Rosenheim designed the theatre.

Opened: January 1913 as the Morosco Theatre  for legit producer Oliver Morosco.

Seating: 1,300

Status:  After a $5 million refurbishment, new operator Erik Chol will reopen the venue in 2014 as a multipurpose space again to be called the Globe Theatre. It closed as a theatre in 1986. The floor was then leveled for an aborted swapmeet project and for decades it had retail in the lobby.  Until 2011 the auditorium and stage areas were being used as a nightclub with an entrance in the alley.

More information: See our pages on the Globe for more information:
main globe theatre page  | 
recent exterior views  |
|
  interior - construction - 2014
lobby areas - earlier views |
auditorium  - earlier views 
attic stage & stage basement  |
|
other basement areas  |  garland building  |

Loew's State Theatre

703 S. Broadway   | map |
  + a 2nd entrance until 1936 at 306 W. 7th St.

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Architects: Weeks and Day

Opened: 1921

Seating: 2,404

Status:  Currently it's being used as a church. Note the added stained glass in the organ grille area in this 2007 photo.

More Information: See our Loew's State Theatre pages for more data:
main state theatre page  |  recent exterior views  |
lobby areas  |  auditorium  |
backstagebasement  |      

Los Angeles Theatre

615 S. Broadway     
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Architect: S. Charles Lee with S. Tilden Norton

Opened: Jan. 30, 1931

Seating: 2,190

Status:  Closed except for film shoots, tours and special events including occasional film screenings.

More Information: See our Los Angeles Theatre pages:
main los angeles theatre page  |
  recent exterior views  |
entrance  |  grand lobby  |  inner lobby - main floor  |
lobby - 1st balcony level  |  basement - intermediate  |
basement - main lounge  |  ladies room and nursery  |
men's room  |  auditorium  |  stage  |  booth 
|
retail and support areas  |


Mayan Theatre

1038 S. Hill St.    
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90015 

Architect: Morgan, Walls & Clements

Opened: 1927 as a legit theatre but was running movies as early as 1929.

Seating: 1,491

Status:  Closed for movies in 1990 and now thriving as a nightclub.

More information: Visit our Mayan Theatre pages for more details and photos:
main mayan page  |  recent exterior views  |  lobby  |  lounges  |
balcony lobby  |  auditorium  | 
stage  |  more  |


Merced Theatre

420  N. Main St.     | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Opened: January 30, 1871.  The Merced is the oldest surviving theatre in Los Angeles. The building had shops on the ground floor, the theatre on the second and living space for the owners on the top floor.

It was also known as the Teatro Merced and Mercedes Theatre.

Architect: Ezra F. Kysor

Seating: 400

Status: Closed as a theatrical venue in 1876. The facade was restored in the 60s and interior work was done in the 80s. It's currently owned by the City of Los Angeles and after years of sitting vacant will soon become the home for the city's public access television channel.

More Information: See our page on the Merced Theatre.


Million Dollar Theatre

307 S. Broadway  
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Architect: Albert C. Martin did the building, William Woollett was the theatre architect.

Opened: 1918 as Grauman's Million Dollar.

Seating: 2,345

Status: Currently closed except for occasional special events and awaiting a new operator to arrive on the scene.

More Information: See our pages on the Million Dollar Theatre:
main million dollar page  |  recent exterior views  |
boxoffice area 
|  lobby areas  |  auditorium  |  booth  |
backstage  |  stage basement  |  orchestra pit  |
auditorium & building basement  |


Olympic Theatre

313 W. 8th St.  
| map |
    +
in the early 30s an entrance at  757 S. Broadway

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Opened: 1927 as Bard's 8th St.

Architect: Lewis A. Smith. Charles O. Matcham did a remodel in 1942.

Seating: 600

Status: Closed around 1997 and has mostly been storage and retail  since then. It's currently for lease.

More Information: See our Olympic Theatre pages for more
information and photos:
main olympic page  |  recent exterior views  |  interior  |


Orpheum Theatre

842 S. Broadway 
| map |

Los Angeles, CA   90014  

Opened: 1926

Architect: G. Albert Lansburgh 

Seating:  2,190

Status: Alive and in great shape as the home of concerts, film shoots and occasional film screenings. 

More Information: See our pages on the Orpheum Theatre for more information:
| main orpheum page  | recent exterior views  | lobby  |  lounges  | 
| auditorium  |  booth  | 
 stage  |  basement  |  lofts  |


Palace Theatre

630 S. Broadway   | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Opened: 1911 as the Orpheum

Architects: G. Albert Lansburgh and Robert Brown Young

Seating: 2,200 originally

Status:  The theatre unveiled a $1 million restoration to celebrate its 100th birthday on June 26, 2011. The Palace is currently is being booked for theatrical productions, concerts, film shoots, and special events.

More Information: See our Palace Theatre pages for more information:
main palace page  |  recent exterior views  |  ticket lobby  |
lobby areas  |  lounges  |  auditorium  |  booth  | 
stage  |
|
  stage basement  |  other basement areas  |  office building  |

Regent Theatre

448 S. Main St.   
| map |

 Los Angeles, CA 90013

Opened: The current building is the second theatre on the site, opening as the National in February 1914. 

It replaced an earlier theatre, also called the National, that had opened in 1911. Both were operated by Bert Lustig.

Later the current building was called Gore's National and by 1917 it was the Regent.

Status: Closed in 2000 after decades as a grindhouse and (at the end) an adult venue.  The floor is still sloped and the proscenium and most of the original gothic inspired ceiling is intact.  This is the last remaining historic movie theatre on Main St. Soon to reopen as a music venue and restaurant.

More Information: See our Regent Theatre  page.

Rialto Theatre

https://sites.google.com/site/theatresla/home/Rialto_Theatre.JPG
812 S. Broadway   
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014 

Opened: 1917. Also known as Grauman's Rialto and Quinn's Rialto.

Architect: Oliver P. Dennis

Seating: 1,000 originally. 840 in later years. 

Status:  The space reopened in December 2013 as an Urban Outfitters store with a wonderful restoration of the marquee. It had closed as a theatre in 1987 with the lobby then used for retail.

More Information: See our Rialto Theatre page for more information and photos.

Roxie Theatre

518 S. Broadway    
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90013 

Opened: November 25, 1931. The Roxie was the last of the Broadway theaters to open -- and was the only one in the art deco style.

Architect: John M. Cooper 

Seating:  Estimates vary from 1,335 to 1,637

Status: Closed since 1989. Retail is currently in the lobby.

More Information: See our Roxie Theatre pages:
main roxie page recent exterior views  |  interior views  | 

Tower Theatre

802 S. Broadway   
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014 

Opened: 1927 

Architect: S. Charles Lee 

Seating: 906

Status: Available for special events.

More information: See our Tower Theatre pages for lots of photos and details:
main tower page  |  recent exterior views  |  lobby  |
lounges and basement  |  auditorium  | 
booth level  |
attic  |  organ chambers  |  roof  |  tower  |

Trinity Auditorium

855 S. Grand Ave.   | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90017

Opened: 1914

Architects: Thornton Fitzhugh, Frank Krucker and  Harry Deckbar.  It's also been known as the Embassy Auditorium.

Seating: 1,600

Status: Soon to be a hotel with the auditorium revived as a performance space.

More Information: See our page on the Trinity Auditorium.


United Artists Theatre

933 S. Broadway   
| map |

Los Angeles, CA 90015 

Opened: 1927

Architect: C. Howard Crane did the theatre, Walker and Eisen the rest of the building.

Seating: 2,214

Status: The renovated theatre reopened in early 2014 accompanied by an Ace Hotel in the former office spaces of the building.

More Information: See our United Artists Theatre pages
for more information and photos:
main united artists page  |  recent exterior views  |
outer lobby  |  inner lobby  |  loungesupper lobby areas
|
auditorium main floor
mezzanine  |  balcony  |
|
  projection  |  backstage  |   other basement areas  |
ace hotel  |  roof  |

Variety Arts Theatre

940 S. Figueroa St.   | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90015

Opened: 1924 as the Playhouse in the  Friday Morning Club, a social and political group for women.

Architects: Allison and Allison

Seating: The main theatre seats 1,100 and a smaller theatre seats 250.  The building also has a ballroom, lounges and many other public spaces.

Status: Sold in 2012 to Robhana Management, Inc. Future plans for the building are unknown. It's still available for filming or special events.

The photo here shows the Variety Arts Theatre in a c.1925 view in the collection of the California State Library. Click on it for a larger view.

More Information: See our Variety Arts Theatre page.


Warner Bros. Downtown Theatre

401 W. 7th St.   
| map |

Los Angeles, CA  90014 

Opened: 1920 as the Pantages

Architect: B. Marcus Priteca

Seating: 1,757 -- original capacity listed as 2,200.

Status: Closed in 1975. The main floor is in use as the Jewelry Mart. Most of the decor is intact. 

More Information:  See our Warner Downtown pages for more information and photos:
main warner page  |  recent exterior views  |  interior  |