Start your Los Angeles area historic theatre explorations by heading to one of these major sections: Downtown | North of Downtown + East L.A. | San Fernando Valley | Glendale | Pasadena | San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier | South, South Central and Southeast | Hollywood | Westside | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | Long Beach | [more] L.A. Movie Palaces |
To see what's recently been added to the mix visit the Theatres in Movies site and the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Navigating Your Tour of Historic Los Angeles Theatres

On a Mobile Device: If you're missing the right column navigation bar or links at the top you can go to the bottom of any page and click on "View Web Version." Still can't find what you're looking for? Send me an email at counterb@gmail.com. See you at the movies! -- Bill Counter

Downtown L.A. Historic Theatres

The survey page gives a rundown on the 20 major surviving theatre buildings in the Downtown Theatre District. There are links to pages about each of them for more detail. You might also want to consult alphabetical rundowns on pages for Hill St. and farther west, the Broadway Theatres, Spring St. Theatres and Main St. and farther east. Those pages give you more detail, including discussions about all the theatres that have vanished. In addition, there's a downtown alphabetical theatre list with alternate names and a theatre list by address.

Historic Hollywood Theatres

Hollywood wasn't just about the movies. Starting in the mid 20s it was also a center for legitimate theatre and musical revues at four newly built playhouses. You'll find an alphabetical list of the theatres in the district on the Hollywood Theatres overview page that includes a bit of data on each and links to pages for more details. Down below this list there's also an alternate name directory. Also of possible interest is a separate page with a list of theatres by street address.

 Westside Theatres

The Westside started booming with retail and housing in the mid 20s and the theatres followed. Many theatres along Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills, and in other neighborhoods became prime venues for everything from small foreign films to major roadshows. It's a huge territory. The Westside Theatres overview page gives you both a list by neighborhood as well as a survey arranged alphabetically. Also see the list of Westside Theatres: by street address and the Westside Theatres: alphabetical list page which includes alternate names.

Westwood and Brentwood

Westwood Village was the third significant theatre district to evolve in Los Angeles, after Downtown and Hollywood. With the construction of the UCLA campus beginning in the late 20s there was a chance to develop a unique shopping and entertainment district for faculty and students. By the 1970's the area had evolved so that Westwood had the largest concentration of first run screens of any neighborhood in Los Angeles. The Westwood and Brentwood Theatres overview page will give you a tour of the area.

Theatres Along the Coast

Santa Monica had a vibrant theatrical life even in the days when it was a small town isolated from the rest of Los Angeles. And that's just the beginning. The Along the Coast section will give you links to discussion of theatres in Ocean Park, Venice, Hermosa Beach, San Pedro, Long Beach and other communities.

[more] L.A. Movie Palaces

This section fills in all the other areas of Los Angeles County. Hundreds of terrific theatres were being built by the studios and independents all over the L.A. area in the 20s and into the 30s.  You'll find coverage of theatres north and east of Downtown as well as in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona, Whittier, Long Beach and many other far flung locations.   Some of those listings have been upgraded and appear on this site, many other links will take you to pages on an older site hosted on Google. The index page has links to all these theatres organized by area.

Searching by theatre name

If you don't find it in the right hand column, head for the Main Alphabetical List, which also includes the various alternate names each venue has used. This list includes those pages recently updated for this site (in bold face) as well as the write ups on an older website. For a narrower focus you'll also find separate lists for Westside and Downtown. As well, there are lists by name on the 10 survey pages for more limited areas like Pasadena, North of Downtown, Long Beach, etc. that are listed on the [more] Los Angeles Movie Palaces page.

Searching by address

If you know an address or street head to either the Main Theatre List by Address, the San Fernando Valley List by Address, the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier List by Address or the Long Beach List. If what you're looking for isn't there, you should find a link to take you to a more localized list by address for Downtown, WestsideHollywood, etc. Also see the survey pages for more limited areas that are listed on the [more] Los Angeles Movie Palaces page.

Happy touring! Please contact me if you spot errors, links that don't work, etc.  

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Village Theatre - Griffith Park

5500 Riverside Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90027 

Opened: Perhaps 1947. This film house was running by at least September 1947 as they were listing their film titles in the L.A. Times that month. It was not listed in the 1945 and 1946 telephone directories. 
 

The approximate theatre location is indicated in orange. The image is a detail from a 1945 Automobile Club of Southern California map on the site Historic Pictoric

It's listed with the 5500 Riverside address in several telephone directories including the September 1947 Yellow pages and the May 1948 white pages. 5500 was on the east side of the street.

Seating capacity: Unknown.  
 
 
 
A December 1947 listing in the L.A. Times. 
 

"Winter Meeting" and "The Hunted" playing in July 1948. 
 

 "Thieves Highway" and "Within These Walls" were two of the films in November 1949.
 
 

A Times listing in July 1950.

Closed: 1950 may have been the end. 
 

A September 1950 ad. "Call Theatre for Program" might have been an indication that there wasn't one. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the ads.

Status: It's an address that no longer exists. It's under the 5 Freeway. Riverside Drive no longer extends north of Los Feliz Blvd.  
 

A 2022 Google Maps image of the area. The area where the theatre had been is indicated in orange. 

| back to top Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Downtown theatres | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

Penny Arcade / Johns & Devlin Nickelodeon

 431-433 S. Spring St. Los Angeles, CA 90013 | map |

Opening: It was the location of the Edison Phonograph Agency as early as 1902. The building was on the west side of the street in the middle of the block between 4th and 5th.
 
Later it became a penny arcade called, appropriately enough, Penny Arcade. It was operated by the San Francisco firm Johns & Devlin and appears to have transitioned into a nickelodeon by the time the 1906 Sanborn map was researched. It closed soon after that.
 

c.1895 - The building the arcade/theatre would be in hadn't yet been constructed. It would soon rise just beyond the Niles Pease building. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Yes, this is the block between 4th and 5th, despite that 334 number on the building on the right. The numbering changed around 1890 and they hadn't yet repainted.


 
c.1900 - An undated drawing of part of the south end of the 400 block. The theatre would later be in that 3-bay building that's the second in from the left. This is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. It's also indexed a second time under a different URL. Beginning on the left it's Niles Pease Furniture, U.R. Bowers & Sons, B. Wynns & Co., Wills & Sonocer, Lewis & Alderson, N. Strauss & Co., D. Whitney & Co. and, at 421 near the right, George Elliott, stationery and artists' materials.  
 
1902 - The Edison Phonograph Agency, with Peter Bacigalupi, Jr. as manager, was listed in the city directory at the 431 S. Spring address. This seems to be a return engagement for Bacigalupi. He was running an Edison agency on Spring St. in the 1890s and then turned the business over to Thomas Tally, who operated his Tally's Phonograph and Kinetoscope Parlor business at a number of Spring and Main St. locations. 
 
There were a variety of tenants upstairs at 431 1/2 including the Fidelity Wall Paper Co. and a lady advertising her services under "Baths."

1904 - The city directory this year listed the Penny Arcade at 431, operated by T.W. Johns & Co. with Thomas W. Johns and Frank J. Devlin as principals. The directory noted that in addition to the arcade they were "dealers in all sorts of amusement machines." 433 was listed as a curio shop operated by the Kakiuchi Brothers. 
 
 

An ad appearing in the 1904 city directory. 


1905 - The company had become Johns & Devlin by the time of the city directory this year. The business at 431 was listed under "Places of Amusement" and it's noted that the firm is from San Francisco. It was McKee's Cafe at 529 and a Japanese Fancy Goods store at 433, operated by Shibata Jugiro (or Jujiro, listed both ways). 435 was Benford & Levy, a men's clothing store. Upstairs at 431 1/2 were many tenants including a tailor and dyer, a physician, a photographer and a dentist. 


 
1906 - The business at 431-433 is seen indicated as "Moving Pictures" in this detail from image 7 of Volume 2 of the 1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map that's on the Library of Congress website. That designation implies that they were actually running a nickelodeon. It differs from how a peep show parlor was usually indicated: "Auto. Slot Machines."
 
Closing: Sometime in 1906 or 1907. There's no listing for anything at 431 or 433 in the 1906 city directory. By the time of the 1907 directory the Postal Telegraph and Cable Co. had taken over 431 for their offices. The directory listed 433 as a jewelry store. 
 
Status: The building the arcade/theatre was once in is long gone. The Trust Building, dating from 1928, is on the site. See a Los Angeles Conservancy page about it.  
 
 
 
c.1908 - Looking south toward 5th St. Note that the Niles-Pease Furniture Co., just beyond the theatre building, got a new four-story home sometime around 1900. On the right edge of the image it's the Angelus Hotel, a building completed in 1901. In April 1908 the Chronophone Theatre opened at 423 S. Spring, in the three-story building at the center. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. 
 

c.1908 - A detail from the Library's photo indicating the building the arcade/theatre had been in  at 429-435.  
 
 

c.1910 - A Los Angeles Public Library photo. On the right we're looking north on Spring. That's a view west on 5th on the left.   

1914 - 431 and 433 are seen here as a Postal Telegraph office. It's a detail from plate 002 of the 1914 Real Estate Survey from Historic Map Works.  The 1910 Baist Map shows similar information for this address.
 
 

1930s - Looking south after construction of the Trust Building on the site. It's the gleaming white edifice half way down the block. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. 

More information: There isn't any. You have all that's been uncovered so far. 

| back to top | Downtown: theatre district overview | Hill St. and farther west | Broadway theatres | Spring St. theatres | Main St. and farther east | downtown theatres by address | downtown theatres alphabetical list

| Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

Olympic Drive-In

12109 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064  | map |

Opened: April 4, 1945 at the northwest corner of Olympic and Bundy with Edward G. Robinson in "The Woman in the Window" along with "Lost in a Harem" starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. It was an independent operation. Later it was run by Pacific Theatres.

This was a successor location to California's first, the Pico Drive-In, a venue that opened in 1934 at Pico and Westwood Blvd. It closed there in September 1944. The screen tower got moved two miles to this new location. Thanks to Robert Juzefski for this 1973 photo of the final message on the marquee. This version of it once appeared on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page as a post from Bill Gabel.

Capacity: 775 cars, more or less.  
 

In the first listing in the Times it was just called Drive In. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating this April 3 ad. Visit his site: Movie-Theatre.org 
 
 
 
An opening ad that appeared in the Venice Evening Vanguard. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating it.
 
 

Instructions and a film listings for later in April and early May 1945. 
 
 



Inside pages of the April and May program. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating these on the site Worthpoint. 

The theatre got a remodel in 1950 that included the addition of a playground, upgraded speakers and the surfer mural painted on the screen tower.
 

A 1951 ad located by Ken McIntyre. 

Closing: October 14, 1973. Bill Gabel notes that the final show was "School Girls," "School Girls Growing" and "Swinging Wives."

Status: The Martin Cadillac dealership was on the site for over 40 years. They closed in 2019 to make way for a new mixed-use development. See Steven Sharp's Urbanize story "Martin Cadillac Makes Way for Expo Line-adjacent Offices and Apartments."
 

More photos:

1946 - A trade magazine image located by Dallas Movie Theaters for a post on Cinema Treasures. "That Night With You" was a September 1945 release.
 
 

c.1946 - An early shot with lots of undeveloped land behind the theatre. Thanks to Michael Kilgore for locating this one for a post on Cinema Treasures. He notes that it once appeared on the Classic Hollywood/Los Angeles/SFV Facebook page but the provenance is unknown. Also see: 1947 photo - Historic Aerials | later more developed view | 1962 aerial looking north - Howard D. Kelly - LAPL |
 
 

1946 - Thanks to Bill Gabel for sharing this shot he located as a post on Cinema Treasures. Michael Kilgore notes that it's from late April or early May.
 
 

1951 - The new 1950 mural on the screen tower. It's a shot presumably taken for Life magazine. Thanks to David Zornig for locating it for a post on Cinema Treasures
 
 
 
1951 - An entrance view taken by Kurt Hutton after the 1950 remodel. Thanks to Martin Turnbull for locating the image in the Getty Images collection. It originally appeared with the article "We Go To Hollywood" in the magazine Picture Post. 
 


1960s? - It's an undated view from the Fred E. Basten collection of the Santa Monica Public Library
 

1973 - A photo by John Margolies that's in the Library of Congress collection. Thanks to Sean Ault for locating it. 


 
1974 - Martin Cadillac, on the site of the Olympic. It's a photo by John Margolies in the Library of Congress collection.
 
 

2019 - An image that appeared with Steven Sharp's Urbanize story "Martin Cadillac Makes Way for Expo Line-adjacent Offices and Apartments.
 

The Olympic Drive-In in the Movies: 

Bob Hope and Lucille Ball are out on the town (but not with their own spouses) in "The Facts of Life" (United Artists, 1960). 56 minutes into the film they decide to go to the Olympic. This screenshot is from the fine page about filming locations on the site The Movie District.
 

At the entrance. It's not going to go well as a hideaway. Thanks to Chris Nichols for this screenshot -- and for the nudge to get a page up about the Olympic. He's an editor at Los Angeles magazine and is also the author of the Taschen book "Walt Disney's Disneyland."
 
 
 
Pulling into a space at the Olympic. It's idyllic for a moment until their dry cleaning man takes the next spot. When they try to leave without being recognized their horn gets stuck and then they forget to put the speaker back on the post. It's another screenshot by Chris Nichols.
 

Attempting to back out while kissing. And at the same time putting the speaker back on the post. They're trying to avoid letting the dry cleaning guy get a good view of their faces for a positive identification. On IMDb: "The Facts of Life."

Ruth Hussey and Don DeFore play the spouses of Bob and Lucy. Melvin Frank directed. The cinematography was by Charles Lang, Jr. Chris added shots of several other locations they used as comments on a Facebook post. The film shot in Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, Acapulco, Monterey and San Francisco. He notes that the full film can be seen on YouTube

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page about the Olympic Drive-In. And visit the page here on this site about the earlier location, the Pico Drive-In

Life has a fine collection of drive-in shots in their article "Let's Go to the Drive-In Movies!"

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Laemmle NoHo 7

5240 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood (Los Angeles), CA 91601 | map

Opened: December 21, 2011. It's located on the east side of the street a block north of Magnolia Blvd. Photo: Bill Counter - November 2022

Website: www.laemmle.com

Seating: 1,100 in 7 auditoria. 

Closing: The date isn't yet known as it depends on the plans of the new owners of the building. In May 2021 Laemmle sold the property to North Carolina-based developer Grubb Properties for $9.5 million. They did a lease-back deal to allow the theatre to continue to operate.

The developer plans to demolish the existing 33,000 sf. two-story building and replace it with a seven-story 128 unit apartment complex on the site that'll also have 5,000 s.f. of commercial space. Greg Laemmle noted: "We're going to operate as long as we can. We don't think it’s in anyone's best interest to have just a vacant property, but that’s going to be their decision."

The plans for the site were announced in "Show's over? Laemmle NoHo 7 theater to become multifamily," a September 13,2022 article by Trevor Bach and Christian Bautista for the real estate blog The Real Deal. Thanks to Donavan S. Moye for spotting the story. 

Laemmle did similar sale and leaseback deals with other developers during the pandemic for the Royal, Pasadena Playhouse 7 and Claremont theatres. The new owners of the Playhouse 7 have leased that complex to Landmark. The other two locations are still in operation by Laemmle. 

The site HyperAllergic had an October 2022 article about the concern of the locals about the potential closing titled "Behind the Fight to Save North Hollywood's Last Indie Cinema."
 
Status: Still operating and probably that will be the case well into 2023. 
 
 
Interior views:
 

 The view in toward the bar. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

Looking back west to the front doors. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

The south wall with the boxoffice and auditoria 1 and 2. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

Another look toward 1 and 2. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

The north wall and the corridor leading to auditoria 3-7. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

Down the corridor. Screen 4 is straight ahead, 3 off to the right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

Looking right at the intersection toward 5-6-7. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

The view back up the hall to screens 5 and 4. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

The view back toward the lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 

More exterior views: 
 

A look along the facade from the north. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

The signage at night. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

A view from the south. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022
 
 

Around the back. Photo: Bill Counter - 2022

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page about the NoHo 7.  The Cinema Tour page includes five 2013 photos by Scott Neff. 

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