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Looking For Traces of 42 Movie Theatres on Main Street

I took a big walk up and down Main St. several months ago looking for traces of the 42 (at my last count) movie theatre locations in the 14 blocks from Republic St. (a couple of blocks north of the 101) down south as far as 9th St.

Main St. was the location of the first commercial exhibition of films in Los Angeles. It was in 1896 at the Grand Opera House (110 S. Main -- long vanished).

And Main St. is now the location of one of the newest theatres downtown, the Downtown Independent (251 S. Main) which has the honor of being the only venue downtown besides the Regal at L.A. Live to currently screen films on a regular basis.

Other than the Independent, the only thing on the street that still looks like a theatre is the Regent (448 S. Main) -- seen in the photo above in a 2010 view looking south toward 5th St. Those are the Rosslyn Hotel buildings on the right.

It's a street with a long theatrical history but few buildings left to show for it. At 3rd St. on the east side of Main there is this curious building with an angled facade. It's what is left of the Liberty Theatre (266 S. Main St.). The building got sheared off when 3rd St. was pushed through Main. 3rd used to dead end facing the Liberty.

Also surviving is the building that housed the Main Theatre (438 S. Main) just north of the Regent.

The count of 42 theatres on my Main Street Theatres page doesn't include several early legit venues that never saw the coming of the movies. Nor does it include some theatres on the side streets.

Of course not all 42 were operating at once. But even as late as 1929, if we include a couple of theatres that were also running burlesque shows along with films, there were something like 23 theatres operating on a 14 block stretch of Main St.

Just south of the Regent is the still-standing building that once housed the Banner Theatre (456 S. Main). The glorious Banner is now offices for a social services agency.

The only other remaining building with a past as a movie theatre on Main St. is the building that housed the Galway (514 S. Main), shown here in the photo below.

You can click on any of these photos to enlarge.

Take a stroll and see if you can find anything I've missed. Or check out our Main Street Theatres page for what I've uncovered so far. As always, corrections and comments are appreciated.

It feels tame now but there was a time when Main St. was the great white way of Los Angeles. It was hopping long before things got seriously started on Broadway. And many of its buildings survived an amazingly long time after the more elite trade left the street.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Culver Plaza Theatres, I can't wait to see Scar there on the 8th.