Start your Los Angeles area historic theatre explorations by heading to one of these major sections:
Downtown | Hollywood | Along Wilshire | [more] L.A. Movie Palaces | Theatres In Movies
To see what's recently been added to the mix visit the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Theatre History Resources

I was in the process of working on this but got derailed by other aspects of the project. There's currently some information here but you might also want to check in on the following pages until the material gets moved over to this site:

On the Hollywood Theatres site: Movie Links and Hollywood History Resources

On the Wilshire Theatres site: Wilshire History Resources

On the [more] L.A. Movie Palaces site: L.A. Theatre History Resources

Also: Other L.A. History Resources

Archives To Browse:

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

California State Library Photo Collection

Calisphere -- a searchable aggregator from UCLA that displays photos from many collections 

Getty Research Institute Photo Collection 

Hollywood Historic Photos -- several thousand photos to browse from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives.

Huntington Digital Library

Internet Archive -- many vintage theatre trade publications are included in the vast collection

Los Angeles County Natural History Museum  Photo Collection  -- despite the name of the organization, their Seaver Center for Western History Research photo collection includes many Los Angeles street views and a few theatre interior shots as well. 

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

The Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection

UCLA Los Angeles Times Photo Collection
| on the UCLA Library website | on Calisphere | 

UCLA S. Charles Lee papers Collection
| on the UCLA Library website | on Calisphere | 

USC Archives Digital Collections

Books Of Interest: 

David Naylor's wonderful book "American Picture Palaces, The Architecture of Fantasy" is not to be missed. It's a lush tour through the country's movie palaces with many stunning photos that don't appear elsewhere. Many Los Angeles theatres are represented. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company New York, 1981. It's available on Amazon.

"American Theatres Of Today" by R.W. Sexton and B. F. Betts is a huge compendium of plans and photos of the most interesting theatre architecture of the 20s -- including many Los Angeles theatres. The two volumes of the book were published in 1927 and 1930 by the Architectural Book Publishing Co., New York. It was reprinted in one volume in 1977 and 1985 by the Vestal Press, New York. Theatre Historical Society also did a reprint in 2009.

"Movie Palaces: Survivors of an Elegant Era" by Ave Pildas (photos) and Lucinda Smith (text.) Foreword by King Vidor. Clarkston N. Potter, New York, 1980. A fine book with photos of many Los Angeles area theatres. It's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

  "Spectacular Illumination: Neon Los Angeles 1925-1965" by Tom Zimmerman with J. Eric Lynxwiler has hundreds of photos of Los Angeles signage, including views of many theatres. Chris Nichols discussed the book and included some Hollywood views with his August 2016 Los Angeles magazine article "These Photos Will Transport You to a Neon-Soaked 1930s Hollywood."

Check out the great 2008 Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres In Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker. Most of the photos in the book are from Mr. Wanamaker's Bison Archives. There's a preview you can browse on Google Books.

Anne Conser and Robert Berger's great 1992 book "The Last Remaining Seats: Movie Palaces of Tinseltown" is available on Amazon. Visit Robert Berger's website for a portfolio of 16 photos from the book.

City Directories:

The Los Angeles Public Library has a number of searchable city directories posted online.

| 1909 - "moving pictures and machines" | 1909 - "theatres" |

Ken McIntyre has posted photos of several city directories in his Photobucket album.
| 1908 - "theatres" | 1914 - "motion picture theatres" - part 1 | 1914 - part 2 | 1942 "theatres" |

Google has an interesting list of Los Angeles County directories online, listing holdings in a number of different libraries.

Downtown History Resources:  

Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council -- The organization's Historic Resources - Buildings List is a fine compendium of essential information about historic buildings downtown, arranged by address.

Facebook pages of interest:

After The Final Curtain - Matt Lambros

Bay Area Historic Theatres

Historic Theatre Photographs - Mike Hume

Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation -- group page

Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation -- official page

Mid Century Modern Los Angeles

Photos of Los Angeles

So Cal Historic Architecture

Theatre Architecture

Vintage Los Angeles

Hollywood History Resources:

"Hollywood 1900-1950 in Vintage Postcards" by Tommy Dangcil in the Arcadia Publishing Postcard History Series has a good selection of early Hollywood views. It's on Amazon  and there's also a preview on Google Books for you to browse.

"Hollywood, The First 100 Years" by Bruce Torrence.  A great book with many rare photos from Mr. Torrence's collection. Many of his photos are also available for viewing and purchase at

Torrence is the grandson of legendary Hollywood developer C.E. Toberman, who built the El Capitan, Egyptian and Chinese theatres, along with many other landmark buildings. The book was published by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1979 and is available on Amazon.

Hollywood Historic Photos has several thousand photos to browse from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives. 

"The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History" by Gregory Paul Williams is a wonderful history with hundreds of rare photos not seen elsewhere. It's available on Amazon and there's a preview to browse on Google Books.

The amazing Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection has over 9,000 photos to browse indexed by topic and type of building.

The Water and Power Associates Museum six page section Early Views of Hollywood has a terrific selection of photos they've grabbed from a wide variety of sources.

Los Angeles history resources:

Transportation and the City: Past and Present - Tom Wetzel's Uncanny site documents l.A. transit history

Newspaper searches: 

The California Digital Newspaper Collection is a searchable newspaper archive dating from 1846 to the present.

Photo sets:

Mike Hume's Historic Theatre Photographyon Facebook

Movie Theatres USA - Ken Roe on Flickr

Preservation Organizations:

Hollywood Heritage | Hollywood Heritage Museum on Facebook

Los Angeles Conservancy | on Facebook

Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation | group Facebook page | official Facebook page |

Theatre Historical Society of America | annual conclave info | THS  on Facebook

League of Historic American Theatres | national conference info

Theatre history websites and blogs:   

American Widescreen Museum - Martin Hart

Cinema Treasures -- See the site's Los Angeles list for doing an alphabetical search. Or if you want a handy list for any particular city, Cinema Treasures is the way to go.If you're looking for a list of theatres in a particular community note that Cinema Treasures lists all these small neighborhoods separately. Start with the California page and note the selection bar just to the right of the "California" -- you can scroll down to find any town in the state.

Cinema Tour -- This site has a nice spread with cities arranged alphabetically and thumbnail photos of many of the theatres. The Long Beach - Los Angeles page is a good place to start. You can use the directory at the top of the page to select where you want to go. Or enter the name of the theatre in the search box on any Cinema Tour page to see what the site has.

From Script To DVD -- 70mm in Los Angeles | 70mm Equipped Theatre List and Photo Gallery |

Grauman's Chinese - Kurt Wahlner

In Cinerama - Roland Lataille

Mike Rivest's Ultimate List of Movie Theatres is an illustrated list of 1530 or so theatres in the Los Angeles area.

Noirish Los Angeles -- an enticing discussion forum on Skyscraper page -- now up to 2000 pages.

Theatre Talks - Cezar DelValle


The ZIMAS tool from the City of Los Angeles Planning Department allows you to determine the legal address of a piece of property and look at a report on it. The reports have all sorts of information such as size of the building, date of construction and last date of sale.


Cinema Treasures researcher Jeff Bridges (aka Vokoban) has discovered several interesting ads listing many theatres. | 1914 - "moving picture theaters"  |  1923 - Paramount directory ad  |

No comments:

Post a Comment