Movie Magic: L.A. County's Historic Theatres
Movie Magic: L.A. County's Historic Theatres
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Los Angeles is known worldwide as the home of the movie industry.

The Los Angeles Conservancy's film series, Last Remaining Seats, began in 1987 as a way to draw attention to the spectacular yet overlooked and underused historic theatres of Los Angeles. The film series has since become a summer tradition, drawing thousands of people from the region, the nation, and outside the U.S. Each theatre on this tour has been host to one or more screenings of Last Remaining Seats.

In approximately 1910, nickelodeons and vaudeville theatres began to appear on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. By 1931, Broadway contained twelve major theatres with a combined audience capacity of 17,000. This was one of the largest concentrations of movie palaces in the world at the time, comparable to the legitimate/movie theatre district around Broadway and Times Square in New York City.

Construction of the Chinese, Egyptian, El Capitan, and Pantages theatres on Hollywood Boulevard in the 1920s marked the beginning of a new Los Angeles theatre district.

Concurrent with the growing dominance of Hollywood and Westwood as the top movie-going destinations in the 1960s, many of the Broadway theatres switched to Spanish language films and programming. Several of the theatres became famous for appearances by the top stars of Mexican cinema and entertainment.

By the 1980s, suburban development and cinema multiplexes further drained moviegoers from downtown. The Broadway theatres began to close as movie venues.

In 2008, the Conservancy joined with the City and downtown property owners in announcing Bringing Back Broadway, an effort to harness the momentum of downtown’s ongoing revitalization into the long-awaited renaissance of the historic Broadway theatre district.

Broadway, between Third and Ninth Streets, is the first and largest Historic Theatre District to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district received this designation in 1979 because it contains a variety of theatre types – vaudeville houses, legitimate theatres, and movie palaces – illustrating the evolution of popular entertainment during the first third of the 20th century.

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Los Angeles Conservancy
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Credits: Architect(s) and Year Constructed; S. Charles Lee, 1931, William Lee Woollett and Albert C. Martin, Sr., 1918, G. Albert Lansburgh, 1926, G. Albert Lansburgh, 1911, Walker and Eisen, and C. Howard Crane, 1927, Dodd & Richards, 1927, B. Marucs Priteca, 1931, Lindley & Selkirk, 1925, Ricard D. Bates, 1926, G. Albert Lansburgh, 1928; Photos Courtesy of; Bob Brennan, Douglas Hill, Gary Leonard, and Spencer Lowell
Jun 3, 2020
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