Welcome to our photographic tour of the old Los Angeles theater district on Broadway. Click the description to view or download larger files. We have included both medium and large size jpg files for you to view or download. The medium size jpg files in this tour average around 30K in size and show a full-frame view of the theater facade. The large size jpg's average about 100K and have been included so that you might enjoy the detail and texture of these fine old buildings and their surrounding street scene. Photographs are copyrighted and may not be used for commercial purposes.
Many thanks to the Los Angeles Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of these, and many other fine old buildings in Los Angeles. For a closer look at the Broadway theaters and other historical sites in downtown Los Angeles, call them at 213-623-2489 and arrange to take a free downtown walking tour.
Click one of the links below to take one of our other photo tours.
Clicking on the Marquee image downloads the larger JPG.
Hollywood Studio Tour
Portraits of Los Angeles Tour, Sunset and La Brea
Portraits of Los Angeles Tour, Wilshire and La Cienega
Taking a walk down Broadway in Los Angeles today is like taking a walk down a busy commercial street in Mexico City. Stores, street vendors, shoppers and moviegoers are primarily Hispanic, and Spanish seems to be the native tongue. But Broadway in the early part of the century was a far different place, and was the place to go see a vaudeville show, or one of those newfangled movies at a nickelodeon. When Sid Grauman opened his first Los Angeles movie palace there in 1918 - The Million Dollar Theater - the Broadway theater district had arrived. The area would be the center for movieland's World Premieres for the next decade. Grauman can also bear some of the blame for the decline of the area. Filmdom's emphasis shifted to Hollywood when he built the Egyptian (1922) and the Chinese (1927) Theaters on Hollywood Boulevard. After all, it was much easier to get there from Los Feliz, Beverly Hills, or Hancock Park - home to film's aristocrats. Our Theater Tour is a look at the Broadway of another day.
These exterior shots of the Broadway theater marquees only give hints of their luxurious and extravagant interiors. We hope to feature interior shots in a future Broadway theater tour update.
131K JPG file - 40K JPG file Renamed "The Palace" in 1926 when the Orpheum vaudeville company built itself a grander home up the street, this building opened June 6, 1911 and has the distinction of being the oldest remaining Orpheum theater in the United States. 630 South Broadway. Still operating.
106K JPG file - 22K JPG file The Million Dollar Theater was built by legendary showman Sid Grauman as a film theater and not as a vaudeville venue. The theater opened on February 1, 1918. The marquee that day advertised cowboy William S. Hart starring in The Silent Man. During the 1950's, the theatre was leased to Latino businessman Frank Fouce. It became a premier latino venue and showed top spanish language films and and hosted latino musicians and dancers in vaudeville-like shows called "variedades". Lines ran all the way to Hill Street (about 4 blocks) for some of the top performers. The theatre, in sore need of repair, was leased to a hispanic evangelical church ,Iglesia Universal, in 1993. The Church moved to the State Theatre, also on Broadway, in 1998. The theatre has been taken over by the Metropolitan Theatre Co. and renovated. It reopened on April 9, 1999, again featuring "variedades". The headline performer that night was ranchero balladeer Juan Valentin who sand "corridas" ballads to a cheering crowd. Hooray for the Million Dollar! 307 South Broadway.
93K JPG file - 18K JPG file The Tower Theater opened October, 1927 with the silent film The Gingham Girl . This was the first Broadway theater equipped to show talking pictures, and as such, was the site for the World Premiere of the first "all-talking" picture, Warner's 1927 The Jazz Singer. 802 South Broadway. Closed and unoccupied.
104K JPG file - 40K JPG fileBuilt in 1926, the Orpheum theater was owned and operated by the Orpheum vaudeville circuit and featured performers such as Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers. Jack Benny reputedly met and courted his beloved "Mary" while he was working here. Mary Livingston was a lingerie salesperson across the street at the May Company. Special movie events are still held here, many featuring silent films accompanied by the completely restored Wurlitzer organ. The volunteer organization, Friends of the Orpheum, assists in maintaining this historic location and can be reached at 213-239- 0949. 842 South Broadway. Still operating.
127K JPG file - 39K JPG fileBuilt in 1917 this theater was built for motion picture projection and called "Quinn's Rialto". Originally it sported a Greek revival pedimented facade, but this was torn down in the 30's to make way for what is now Broadway's longest marquee. 812 South Broadway. Converted to retail shops.
142K JPG file - 22K JPG fileThe United Artists theater was built in 1927 as the crown jewel of the United Artists Theater Circuit. United Artists had formed in 1919 when D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks joined forces to wrest creative and financial control from their former studio employers. 933 South Broadway. Home to Gene Scott's Los Angeles University Cathedral. Who has his own Home Page at www.drgenescott.org .
140K JPG file - 21K JPG fileThe Los Angeles Theater was a latecomer to the Broadway theater district. It's January 30, 1931 opening featured Charlie Chaplin in City Lights. Although the theater was built in the early years of the Great Depression the baroque facade and interiors recall the majesty of the Sun King, Louis XIV. 615 South Broadway. Closed and unoccupied.
83K JPG file - 16K JPG file The Roxie Theater was built in 1932 on the site of the razed Quinn's Superba Theater. The Roxie was the last of the great movie palaces to be built because the Los Angeles movie audience developed a preference for Hollywood Blvd. venues like Grauman's Chinese and the Egyptian theaters. 518 South Broadway. Converted to retail shops.
113K JPG file 38K JPG file Loew's State theater was built in 1921 by Marcus Loew, one of the film industry's earliest moguls. Three years later Loew would merge his production arm, Metro Pictures, with Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions to form MGM. The theater originally dominated the lower floors of the building and had entrances both on Broadway and on Seventh Street. 703 South Broadway. Still operating.
80K JPG file 22K JPG file The Arcade Theater opened in 1910 with a vaudeville program produced by the famous Pantages vaudeville circuit. The Pantages leased the building for many years and their decision to perform here provided much of the early impetus that was to transform Broadway into Los Angeles' premier theater district during the 1910's and 20's. 534 South Broadway. Converted to retail shops.
101K JPG file 28K JPG file The Globe theater opened in January, 1913 with the west coast premier of The Fortune Hunter, a play by Winchell Smith. The building was built for theatrical producer Oliver Morosco and was called the Morosco Theater at that time. In the 1930's the theater was converted to motion picture projection and specialized in newsreel footage. A swapmeet is the current occupant with retail spaces sharing the space with the original marble staircases, balconies, and wall bas-relief. 744 South Broadway
91K JPG file 22K JPG file The Cameo theater was built in 1910 by impresario and early filmmaker William H. "Billy" Clune. Clune produced his own films and distributed them to his theater chain. His production facility, Clune Studios, is still located on Melrose Avenue although it has since gone through a series of name changes and is now called Raleigh Studios. Converted to retail shops. There is a photo of Raleigh Studios in our Hollywood Studio Tour. 528 South Broadway
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