Metropolitan / Paramount Theatre

323 W. 6th St., 536 S. Hill Street  and 553 S. Broadway 

Los Angeles, CA 90014       | map |

Opened: January 26, 1923 as Grauman's Metropolitan. On the screen was "American Wife" with Gloria Swanson. The theatre was advertised as "The Showplace of the World." On the great stage were Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians and other acts.

Architect: William Lee Woollett, who had previously designed the Million Dollar for Sid Grauman, designed the theatre. Edwin Bergstrom was responsible for the building.

The Metropolitan opened with an air conditioning system -- one of the Carrier Corporation's first big commercial jobs.

Seating: 3,600 -- the largest movie theatre in Los Angeles.

History: In July 1924 Grauman sold his downtown holdings to Paramount Publix. Like other west coast Publix theatres, the Metropolitan was actually operated by Fox West Coast for Paramount. Publix continued to use the Grauman name in advertising although he no longer participated in the theatre's operation.

A wonderful 1927 ad from Cezar Del Valle's Theatre Talks
collection. It's a Fox West Coast ad noting that they are operating
the Metropolitan "In association with Publix Theatres." 
full size view

A look at the cover of the Fox West Coast
"Now" magazine for July 15, 1927.  It's from the
Cezar Del Valle Theatre Talks collection.
full size view

The Metropolitan name came off the building in 1928 and the theatre became the Paramount.  Publix was on a similar branding spree up the coast where their theatres called Seattle and Portland both became Paramounts as well.

The Paramount's  orchestra leader Rube Wolf
backstage in a 1933 photo by George Mann from the
George Mann Archive
. It's on the site's "famous" page.
larger view

The Motion Picture News issue of October 20, 1928 reported that the government wasn't happy with Fox having the west coast Publix houses and forcefully suggested that they be divested from Fox control.

The Paramount was also known as the Paramount Downtown to distinguish it from the Hollywood Paramount (which is now back to its original name: El Capitan). Both theatres were managed in the late 30s and beyond by Fanchon and Marco.

A nice 1935 poster for a big show at the
Paramount. Ken McIntyre found it for his
 Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
slightly larger view

A 1938 ad on Photos of Los Angeles for the Paramount
running "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" -- and Roy Rogers
 in the Fanchon and Marco idea "Discoveries of 1938"
full size view

A 1941 ad for "Sullivan's Travels" at the
 Fanchon & Marco operated Metropolitan. It's on
Photos of Los Angeles, a find of Ken McIntyre.
full size view

A 1953 ad for a 24 hour premiere for Warner's "House of Wax"
 in 3-D and stereo sound. It also played the Hollywood Paramount
(now once again called the El Capitan).  The ad appears on the
Wide Screen Documentation page of 3-D Film Archive,
a delightful site curated by Bob Furmanek. 
full size view | on FB/LATheatres

Status:  Closed in 1960. Demolished in 1961. The site was vacant for years but now is the location of the high-rise International Jewelry Center.

More Information:  See Cinema Treasures  for an informative discussion about the history of the Metropolitan.  The page has over 25 photos.

Cruising the Past has a nice spread on the Metropolitan illustrated largely with Los Angeles Public Library photos.

See the delightful Noirish Los Angeles post "Pershing Square Over The Years"  by Kevin W. for lots of great photos from different archives.

     B'hend and Kaufmann Archives

A detail of the mural over the 6th St. entrance
doors. The photo came to the B'hend and
Kaufmann Collection from Terry Helgesen.
 full size view  | on FB/LAtheatres

The Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection
is part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collection.

A stunning shot of the proscenium and fire
curtain. It's evidently a pre-opening photo --
 there don't appear to be any seats yet.
full size view  |  on FB/LAtheatres

     Cezar Del Valle - Theatre Talks |

A glorious postcard of the Metropolitan from
Cezar's collection -- perhaps the only postcard
view of the Met there is.
full size view

The card also appears, uncredited,
 on Photos of Los Angeles.

The Metropolitan ("One of the most beautiful theatres
 in America...") got a full page ad in the June 30, 1923
Exhibitors Trade Review from the Crane Co. extolling the
 virtues of its drinking fountains, toilets and steam valves.

Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian with a
fondness for the theatres of Los Angeles.
Thanks, Cezar!

     Huntington Digital Library

An October 1960 Palmer Connor photo looking at
 the Hill St. side of the building. On the left is a Boos
Brothers cafeteria getting dismantled.
 full size view

We're looking at the backstage wall above the
cafeteria. A bit of the theatre's Hill St. marquee can
be seen at the right edge of the picture.

An October 1960 look across Pershing Square at
the Metropolitan. It's a Palmer Connor photo.

A June 1961 shot looking north on Hill St.
It's a Palmer Connor photo.

     Los Angeles Public Library

This building was huge. Here we have a view looking
at the 6th and Hill St. corner of the structure. Note
the entrances on both 6th and Hill Streets.   
full size view

A 1928 view of the theatre still as the Metropolitan.
Playing is "Manhattan Cocktail."
  full size view

William Lee Woollett (in the suit) and his crew
working on one of the Metropolitan's murals in 1922.
 full size view

A lobby chandelier photo from 1923.

A view of the rear of the auditorium in
1923 from
the Library collection.
full size view

Another 1923 look toward the
rear of the 3600 seat auditorium.
full size view

A view of the proscenium.
   full size view  |  same in State Library collection

The remodeled "modern look"
of the proscenium c. 1952.
full size view

A view of the mezzanine promenade
from the Library's collection. 
full size view  | in the NYPL collection

The standee area at the
 back of the main floor.
 full size view

A view of the Broadway entrance which was in use
only until the early 30s. Here we're looking up the stairs
to the mezzanine level where you walked across a bridge
to the theatre proper on the other side of the alley. 
full size view

The chandelier seen in the photo above was moved
to the auditorium of the Million Dollar Theatre in 1929.

A 1961 look at the proscenium during
demolition with Rube Wolf, former orchestra
leader at the theatre, onstage.
full size view

More interior views from the Library collection:
 |  mural detail  |  diana usherettes  |
 |  throne chair  |

A 20's view looking south on Broadway toward
6th St. with the Metropolitan's entrance on the
right.  Down the block on the left we see the that
the Orpheum has been renamed the Palace.
 full size view  

A view looking south from 5th St. on Broadway
in 1926. That's Walker's Department Store on
the corner. Note the Metropolitan vertical
down near the end of the block. 
full size view

Also see a less cropped view of the
photo above on Photos of Los Angeles.

A 1932 view of the Broadway vertical (with
"Paramount" lettering) from the Library collection. 

We're looking North on Broadway with the
Los Angeles Theatre in the foreground and the
 Paramount sign down in the next block. 

Also note that you can see a bit of the Palace
on the right hand side of the full size image.   
full size view

A detail from the image above showing the Paramount
vertical sign. The building that was the Broadway
entrance for the theatre still survives.

More Broadway
views from the Library:

| c.1910 view - looking south at the 500 block  |
Broadway entrance - 1925  |
| 20s looking south | 1932 looking south |

The vista west on 6th St. from Broadway toward the
Metropolitan Theatre's vertical -- here with the revamped
 signage saying Paramount. Beyond is Hill St. and Pershing
Square. The photo, evidently from the 30s, is uncredited.
full size view

An interesting view c.1937 toward the Metropolitan
across Pershing Square. It's taken from the top of the
Pacific Mutual Building, 523 W. 6th St. 
full size view

A 1939 look at the signage during the
run of "Gulliver's Travels" plus a Fanchon
and Marco stage show! 
full size view

A 1942 look east across Pershing Square with a
beauty pageant in process. Beyond is the Hill St. facade
of the Metropolitan Theatre with 6th St. over
on the right. It's a Ralph Morris photo.
full size view

A 1944 view giving us a vista of both the
Hill St. (on the left) and 6th St. entrances.
  full size view

"Bwana Devil" in 3-D on the Paramount's
spiffy new marquee in 1952. We're looking at
the 6th St. side of the building.
full size view

More Hill St. and 6th St.
photos from the Library collection:
|   Hill St. facade - 1926  |  from across Pershing Square - 1926  |
 | Hill Street facade -- and Pershing Sq. excavation  |  another Hill St. view |
| east on 6th - 1937 |  marquee view - 1938 - as the Paramount | 
| B-25 in Pershing Square - 1942 |  Hill St. side of the building - 1950  | 
 |  end view of the marquee 1950 - "My Friend Irma Goes West" |
 |  marquee concept drawing  -1952  |
marquee drawing - 1952 - William B. David & Associates  |
| east on 6th- 50s? |
  |  demolition -- into the house from parking lot |

A wonderful 1958 view looking east
on 6th toward Broadway.

photo:  Richard Wojcik collection

The photo originally appeared on
Vintage Los Angeles. Thanks, Richard!

Looking north on Hill St. toward 6th
 and the Paramount Theatre in 1956.

photo: Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press

Pershing Square is off to the right. The Paramount (until 1928 known as
the Metropolitan) is running "Giant" with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson
 and James Dean. There was also an entrance off to the right on 6th St.

Thanks, Sean! You'll find more items from
 Sean's collection lower in this column.

[ click on these photos for a larger view ]

Demolition of the Metropolitan in 1961 -- a major loss
for downtown Los Angeles.
The Metropolitan was the
 largest of the city's movie palaces.

photo: Richard Wojcik collection

This faded sign for the Paramount
is still a presence
on Broadway.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

Here  it's directing patrons back to the 6th St.
location but the Paramount itself is long gone.

Originally there was an additional entrance to
the Metropolitan at 553 S. Broadway, through
the building above. 

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

A view of the rear of the 551-553
 S. Broadway building.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

In the center of the photo above is where the bridge came across
the alley at mezzanine level from the Broadway entrance.

 about photos from other
websites that appear on this page...

We've tried to give appropriate credit. Please
contact us if there are incorrect attributions, links that
no longer work or other issues. A link near each image will
direct you to a full size version on the website hosting it.
Assume that all the images are subject to copyright
restrictions.  Contact the webmaster of the site in
question concerning reproduction or other use.

     Architectural Digest    

A look at the building in an ad for L.A. Pressed Brick Co.,
terracotta suppliers for the Metropolitan. It's in the magazine's
1922 survey issue of noteworthy southern California buildings.
 It's from the Stanford Library and on Google Books.

 full size view

     Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press    

The view through the trees of Pershing Square toward
 the Paramount. The Hill St. marquee is over on the right.
 full size view

A 50s look north on Hill St. toward the Paramount
 in a photo from Sean Ault's collection.
full size view

New construction rising on
the site of the Paramount.
full size view

Sean Ault is a noted L.A. transit historian with
 an amazing photo collection. You can see many more
 items from his Osiris Press archive on YouTube.

     California State Library

The mezzanine promenade at the Metropolitan.
It's a Merge Studios photo.  The openings with
the drapes look out onto the main floor lobby area.
full size view

A look down toward the house right
 end of the promenade.  The ceiling above
is the underside of the balcony risers.
 full size view

A Merge Studios look toward the stairs at the
house left end of the mezzanine promenade.
full size view

A terrific look toward the rear of the
auditorium from Merge Studios.
full size view

An amazing view off toward house right.
Look at that strange piece of sculpture dangling
 down within the proscenium. 
full size view

Another look toward house right with
brighter lighting -- and a view of
some of the stage drapes.
 full size view

A detail of the urn downstage of
the proscenium house right.
full size view

Also in the State Library's collection:
house left urn detail  |  another house left urn detail  |
 |  proscenium from the balcony --  same as in LAPL collection  |

     Los Angeles Times - Framework

A view of the corner of the building in 1931.  The chaser
 is the Times-Richfield Electric Newspaper scrolling across
 the 6th and Hill St. sides of the building in 4' high letters.
The photo comes with an article on the Times
 photography blog Framework.

The photo also appears on Photos of Los Angeles
and in Fred H.'s Noirish Los Angeles post # 21027.

     Ken McIntyre on Photobucket

Tireless researcher Ken McIntyre has unearthed

some great pictures of the Metropolitan. Here we're
looking across the main floor at the side of
this quite unique proscenium.
full size view

Also discovered by Ken is this view of the marquee in
 the 20s after the Paramount name change.  Playing is
Maurice Chevalier in "Innocents of Paris." a 1929 release.
full size view

An earlier view with the Grauman's
 name still on the building. 

full size view

Also on Ken's pages:
 |  sign remaining at 6th & Broadway  |   

     Metro Transportation Archive

A c.1950 look north on Hill St. toward
5th St. and the Paramount.
full size view

Thanks to Michelle Gerdes of the LAHTF for
 figuring out the provenance of this one. It was on
 Photos of Los Angeles plus a re-post without attribution.

     Motion Picture News

Charmaine Zoe has this 1930 marquee photo in her
 "Theatres: Stage and Movie" set on Flickr where she's
assembled over 700 photos of theatres around the country
that appeared in various issues of Motion Picture News.
full size view | on FB/LATheatres


The Moviemice Western Electric page gives us this lovely
view of the Metropolitan's booth showing off their Western
Electric Vitaphone installation. These are WE 1-A bases which
included both sound-on-film and sound-on-disc capability.

Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for finding this one!

     New York Public Library

A great undated view of the side of the proscenium

in the New York Public Library collection.
full size view

A view of the mezzanine level promenade
from the NYPL collection.
 full size view  |  in the LAPL collection

Note the beast on the stairs through the first arch. You get
a better view of him (her?) in the main floor lobby view below.

Another stunning photo of the house left
side of the lobby - here on the main floor.
full size view

See the USC view of other end of the lobby
in 1939 with the "modernized" decor

     Brad Smith on Flickr

A dazzling look at the great marquee of the Metropolitan
(now renamed the Paramount) in 1933. We're running "Three
Cornered Moon" with Claudette Colbert -- plus we get the
Sunkist Beauties on stage and more! 
full size view

The photo was taken by George Mann of the comedy
dance team Barto and Mann. Note Mr. Mann's name on
the marquee.  It's in Brad's great theatre marquees set.

Mr. Mann was Brad Smith's father. Mr. Smith's wife, Dianne
Woods, has taken on the task of preserving and organizing the Mann
 photos in the George Mann Archive. Don't miss a chance to browse
the archive for a wonderful look at a lost theatrical world.

Thanks to Michael Hudson-Medina for locating
the source of this one. The photo also appears
 on Ken McIntyre's Photos of Los Angeles.

     Photos of Los Angeles

A 1927 look at the Broadway entrance to the
 Metropolitan. Ken McIntyre found it while
exploring old books at the Library. 
full size view

A look at 6th & Hill in 1929 with the new Paramount
signage. The theatre is running "The Canary Murder
 Case" with William Powell and Louise Brooks. 
full size view  | a re-post

A 30s view looking east across Olive on 6th
toward the Paramount. It was added to the Photos
of Los Angeles collection by Douglas Rudd. 
full size view  |  a re-post

A rare 1952 look at the lobby of the lobby after the
 "modernization." It was located by the amazing Ken
McIntyre.  In the display case is a poster for "Lydia
Bailey," a 1952 release with Anne Francis.
 full size view

A 1966 look east across Pershing Square added by
Bill Gabel. That's 5th St over on the left. At the far
right is the parking lot where the north end of the
 Metropolitan Theatre building once was.

Also see:
  |  Hill St. streetcar  - 1946 - "Kitty" |
 |  east on 6th - 1963  |

     USC Archives

A c. 1925-27 view of the Broadway entrance of
 the Metropolitan from the USC Archives. 
full size view

A 1928 view looking north on Broadway with the
Metropolitan vertical on the left. Note that you can
see a bit of the Cameo signage across the street. 
It's a photo from the California Historical Society.
full size view

A detail from the USC photo above.

A 1939 Dick Whittington Studio view of the house right
end of the lobby. The auditorium is off to the left.
Note that the decor has been "modernized."
 full size view

USC identifies this view above as "Inside lobby of the Paramount
Theatre in Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd."  But a look at the layout
(and that big beast crouching near the stairs) tells you that this
could only be the Paramount downtown.

A great Dick Whittington Studio view of the
 Metropolitan Theatre lobby at mezzanine level.
 full size view

Another Dick Whittington photo -- looking at
the rear of the immense auditorium of the
 Metropolitan Theatre. 
full size view

A 1951 look down on the 6th St. side of the Metropolitan.
It looks like a big opening for "Here comes The Groom" with
Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman. It's a view that's part of a
set of 9 from the Herald-Examiner collection.
full size view

A view from street level after some hydrant
 trouble erupted across the street.
full size view

If you move toward the street and turn around
180 degrees, you get a look at the alley on the north
view of the Los Angeles Theatre.  

Also in the set:
| view from above -- with water  |

An amazing Herald Examiner shot of the 6th
and Hill St. facades in 1960.  Note that the
marquees are advertising an auction of the
contents of the building prior to demolition.  
full size view

Also in the USC Archives:

  |  northeast east across the square  - c.1926 |
 looking south along Hill St. -- 30s? -- note
"Paramount Building" signage on the left |
  |   in the booth - 1960  |   at the auction - 1960  |