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Downtown: Hill Street and theatres farther west

The DTLA survey pages: 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 |

Downtown Los Angeles theatres west of Broadway weren't numerous enough to give Hill Street or streets farther west the feeling of a concentrated theatrical district like on Broadway or, earlier, on Main Street. But envision the area around Pershing Square (and a bit farther south) when the Biltmore, Philharmonic Auditorium, Metropolitan/Paramount, Town, Warner and RKO Hillstreet were all operating.  

Hill St. still has three great buildings that have survived: the Warner Bros. Downtown (former Pantages), the Mayan and the Belasco. Also still around are the Trinity Auditorium on Grand and the Variety Arts on Figueroa. This list covers the survivors, those that have vanished, and some newcomers. It's alphabetical but if you want to see how the theatres were arrayed down each street, go to the downtown theatres by address page. Have fun exploring!   -- Bill Counter 

135 N. Grand Ave.  | map |

This 2,133 seat two-balcony house opened in 1967, a design by Welton Becket. It's the Music Center house that gets the Broadway musicals and occasionally a straight play, sometimes with upper sections draped off for a bit more intimacy. Like its neighbor the Mark Taper Forum, it's operated by Center Theatre Group. See the page on the Ahmanson Theatre for more data and photos.

Alamo Drafthouse
750 W. 7th St.  | map |

Expect an opening in mid to late 2019. The 11 screen complex on the 2nd and 3rd floors of The Bloc at 7th and Flower will seat a total of about 560. Food and drink will be available while watching the films. See the page about the Alamo Drafthouse for more information. 

Alhambra Theatre
731 S. Hill St. | map |

This 878 seat house opened in 1913, a design by the firm of Hunt and Burns. Fred Miller had it for a while calling it Miller's Hill St. but soon it was back to the Alhambra name. The 1921 "Queen of Sheba" photo was a find by Elmorovivo for Cinema Treasures. The house was running into the early 30s then became a parking lot with an entrance through the former lobby. For more information see the page about the Alhambra.  

Bandbox Theatre
608 S. Hill St.  | map |

This 250 seat house opened in 1911 as the Butler Theatre. The photo is a detail from one in the USC collection. Later it was known as the Shamrock and the Bandbox Theatre. From the mid-20s, William Fox was running it. The end came sometime around 1929. The building it was in was demolished for the William Fox Building, located right behind the Los Angeles Theatre. For more information see the page about the Bandbox

Beaux Arts Theatre
1709 W. 8th St. | map |

This cute 559 seat legit house opened in 1927, a design of  Stanton, Reed & Hibbard, who also did the Hotel Figueroa. This building erected by Charles Forve was billed as the "Carnegie Hall of the West." In addition to the theatre, there were 220 soundproof music studios. It's now senior housing. The theatre has been repurposed as a dining area and social center for the residents. For more information see the page on the Beaux Arts Theatre.

Belasco Theatre
1050 S. Hill St. | map |

This theatre, a design of Morgan, Walls & Clements, opened in 1926 as a home for legitimate drama. Seating capacity was originally 1,061. It closed in 1950 and was later used as a church.
After decades of sporadic use, it got a multi-million dollar makeover in 2011. It's now alive again as a club and special events venue. For more information see the Belasco Theatre pages: history | early exterior views | recent exterior views | ticket lobby | lobbies - lounges - ballroom | early auditorium views | recent auditorium views | backstage | basement support areas |

Biltmore Theatre
520 W. 5th St. | map |

Designed by Schultze & Weaver, the same architects who did the hotel, the 1,652 seat two-balcony legit house opened March 3, 1924 with the Ziegfeld production of the musical "Sally." Operated by the Erlanger circuit, this was the premier venue in L.A. for touring Broadway shows for 40 years. The 1924 Mott Studios photo is from the California State Library. The theatre was demolished in 1964 and the site remained a parking lot for 20 years. See the page about the Biltmore Theatre for more information. 

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
135 N. Grand Ave. | map |

This first theatre on the Music Center campus opened in 1964. The 3,197 seat house was designed by Welton Becket. It's currently home to the L.A. Opera, the Glorya Kaufman Dance series and other events. For more information see the page about the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

W. Pico Blvd. & Georgia | map |

About all that is known is that it was running in 1923. It's been demolished. This area is now all part of the Convention Center. See the page on the Cinematour for more information -- but there isn't much.

College Theatre
449 S. Hill St. | map |

This 600 seat house opened in December 1910, a project of Arthur Hyman. Some of the decor inside consisted of banners in various school colors. Later it was operated by Lou Bard as Bard's College Theatre. The 1928 photo is a detail from one in the USC collection. The building, now gone, operated as a theatre until about 1929 and then was used for retail and restaurant space. For more information see the page about the College Theatre

Criterion Theatre
642 S. Grand Ave. | map |

This 1,856 seat house, a design of William J. Dodd, opened in 1917 as the Kinema. Initially operated by a San Francisco firm, it soon was operated by Thomas Tally and he had it at the end of its life in 1941 as well. In between it was run by the Gore Bros. and Sol Lesser, whose assets got rolled into West Coast Theatres. Later it was the Fox Criterion after William Fox took over the circuit. For more information see the page about the Criterion Theatre.

Disney Hall
111 S. Grand Ave.  | map |

The 2,265 seat home of the L.A. Philharmonic opened in 2003. It's a design by Frank Gehry. For more information and many photos see the page on Disney Hall.

Ebell Club
1719 S. Figueroa St. | map |

After two earlier locations downtown, the organization opened this club building and auditorium around 1905. The c.1909 postcard is based on a C.C. Pierce photo in the USC collection. In 1927 after the club moved to a new building on Wilshire this was leased to a community theatre organization. Demolition date is unknown. For more information see the page on the Ebell Club.

Gamut Auditorium
1044 S. Hope St.  | map |

It opened in 1904 as an exclusively male musical society. Soon the Gamut Club broadened its focus to other types of artists as well as local people of "artistic tastes." The 668 seat auditorium was the scene of a great variety of musical performances. This 1926 view of the building is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. See the page about the Gamut Auditorium for more details.

Georgia Theatre
1002 W. 9th St. | map |

It opened possibly as early as 1914. It's in the 1914 city directory as Gore's Theatre (with the address listed wrongly as 102 W. 9th). It was the Georgia from at least 1929 through 1936. In 1939 it's listed as the Capitol. The name Georgia comes from its location just west of Georgia St. The 385 seat theatre has been demolished. For more information see the page on the Georgia Theatre.

Granada Theatre
1044 W. Temple St. | map |

This 520 seat house opened in 1913 as the Owl Theatre. It got the Granada name in the 30s. The 1963 photo is from footage taken by the Community Redevelopment Agency as part of their documentation of conditions before the Temple Urban Renewal Project started. For more information see the page on the Granada Theatre

Grand Theatre
730 S. Grand Ave. | map |

Opened in 1908 as the Walker Theatre, this 900 seat venue went through many names as both a legitimate playhouse and movie house including Neilson Theatre, Clune's, Mozart, Brooks, Orange Grove, Fine Arts and Actor's Studio. It finished up in 1946 as a foreign film house managed by Herb Rosener. The photo is a detail from a Los Angeles Public Library photo taken shortly before demolition. See the page on the Grand Theatre for more information.

Hazard's Pavilion
W. 5th St. at Olive  | map |

The 4,000 capacity three-story wood structure opened in 1887, a project of Henry T. Hazard and George S. Pike. It hosted everything from political rallies, citrus shows and banquets to opera -- including the American premiere of "La Boheme." The building also had a restaurant and art gallery. The c.1899 photo by Martin Behrman is in the California State Library collection. Demolition was in 1905 for construction of the Philharmonic Auditorium. For more information and photos see the page about Hazard's Pavilion

Laemmle's Grande
345 S. Figueroa St. | map |

This 800 seat four screen complex opened in the early 80s under what was then called the Marriot, now the L.A. Hotel. After 2000 it was the only full time movie theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Laemmle closed it in late 2009 when the Regal at L.A. Live appeared on the scene. The theatres are still there, now used as classrooms. See the page about Laemmle's Grande for some photos. 

Lux Theatre
827 W. 3rd St. | map |

It opened as the Bear Theatre in 1914 or earlier and was later known as the Rose, the Rex, and the Anita. The 500 seat house was a design by Train and Williams. It came down in the 60s, a victim of Bunker Hill redevelopment. The c.1957 photo by Leonard Nadel is in the Getty Research Institute collection. For more photos and data see the page about the Lux Theatre.

Mayan Theatre
1038 S. Hill St. | map |

Morgan, Walls & Clements designed this 1927 vintage theatre, opened as a home for musical comedies.  The seating capacity was originally 1,491. In 1948 it became a Spanish-language house. It closed in 1989, its last years as a porno venue. For over 25 years now it has been thriving as a nightclub. For more information visit the Mayan Theatre pages: history | vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | ticket lobby | main lobby | balcony lobby | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | booth and attic | stage | basement |

Metropolitan/Paramount Theatre
323 W. 6th St., 536 S. Hill St. and 553 S. Broadway  | map |

This 3,600 seat monster, the largest movie house in Los Angeles, opened January 26, 1923 as Grauman's Metropolitan. After Sid decided to focus on Hollywood his partner, Famous Players-Lasky, (soon to become Paramount) took it over. In 1929 it was rebranded as the Paramount. The building was designed by George Edwin Bergstrom with the strange and wonderful theatre a work by William Lee Woollett. It closed in 1960 and was demolished in 1962. Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for the early postcard. For more information about this great building here are the pages: history | exterior views | Broadway entrance | lobby areas | auditorium | stage | projection booth |

Musart Theatre
1320 S. Figueroa St. | map |

This 334 seat legit venue opened in 1913, a design by Morgan, Walls & Morgan. Later it was known as the Egan Theatre and in 1933 got the Musart name. In the mid 30s it was home to many Federal Theatre Project shows. The 1949 photo is from the Saxon Sitka collection. In 1950 it was running as the Teatro Fine Arts. The building was around at least until 1979. See the page on the Musart Theatre for more information.

Olympic Theatre
313 W. 8th St. | map |

It opened in 1927 as Bard's 8th St. Theatre. In the early 1930s it also had an additional entrance at 757 S. Broadway through the Merritt Bldg. The architect for the 600 seat house was Lewis A. Smith, doing a remodel of a 1917 building that was previously a restaurant. Charles O. Matcham did a remodel in 1942. It closed as a theatre around 1997 and has been used storage and retail since then. In 2017 what was left of the theatre interior was gutted in a remodel for a store for the upscale clothing brand COS. For more information and photos see the Olympic Theatre pages: history + exterior views | interior views

Palace Theatre
318 W. 7th St. | map |

The Palace, a conversion of a building dating from 1910, opened in 1916 and ran until 1921. The 633 seat house was a new location for a venture known as the Palace of Pictures that had been on Broadway since 1910. The c.1920 photo is a detail from one in the USC Digital Library. When the lease expired in 1921 the space was occupied by retail tenants, a use it retains today. For more information see the page on the Palace Theatre.

Pico Theatre
736 W. Pico Blvd. | map

This 525 seat theatre opened around 1912. The location was just west of Figueroa on the south side of the street. It's listed in the city directories as the Navarro Theatre from 1914 through 1918. By 1922 it had become the Pico Theatre. In 1925 it was listed as the New West Pico Theatre. In 1926 it's the New Pico Theatre. Then it's back to being the Pico Theatre. It's still listed in the 1936 directory. The closing date is unknown. Now demolished. The site is now part of the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more information see the listing for the Pico Theatre.

Philharmonic Auditorium
527 W. 5th St. and Olive near 5th  | map |

This 2,670 seat theatre opened in November 1906 as the Temple Auditorium, the largest theatre at the time west of Chicago. It was a design by Charles Whittesley, Otto Neher and E.R. Harris. It had a fling as a movie palace beginning in 1914 as Clune's Auditorium, also billed as Clune's Theatre Beautiful. The L.A. Phil took over in 1920 and renamed it Philharmonic Auditorium. The beginning of the end came in 1964 with the opening of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Demolition was in 1985. See the page about the Philharmonic Auditorium for many photos.

631 W. 2nd St.  | map |

The Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theatre opened in November 2003. It's at 2nd and Hope, nestled under the southwest corner of Disney Hall. It's a flexible theatre space and gallery designed along with Disney Hall by Frank Gehry. Seating capacity is 200 to 270 depending on the configuration. See the page on the Redcat for more information.

Regal Cinemas
1000 W. Olympic Blvd.  | map |

The 14 screen complex at L.A. Live opened in 2009. Seating capacity in the 14 auditoria is 3,772. The largest, the Premiere Theatre, seats 806. For more information see the page about the Regal Cinemas.

RKO Hillstreet
801 S. Hill St. | map |

This "Junior Orpheum" house opened in 1922 with a budget policy of continuous vaudeville and films throughout the day. With 2,916 seats, the Hillstreet was the second largest movie house in town.  The architect was G. Albert Lansburgh, who did many projects for the circuit including the 1911 and 1926 Orpheums on Broadway. The image is from process footage shot for the 1947 film "Down to Earth." Demolition was in 1965. See the page on the RKO Hillstreet for more information.

Simpson's Auditorium
730 S. Hope St. | map |

The original building from 1899 used for many musical performances was a church called Simpson's Tabernacle. A later addition produced a separate Simpson's Auditorium, seen off to the right in this 1970 Palmer Connor photo from the Huntington Digital Library. There's still a small building on the site but the larger structures were demolished following earthquake damage in 1971. See the page on Simpson's Auditorium for more information. 

Star Theatre 
827 W. 6th St. | map |

It's listed in the in 1914 & 1916 city directories. Actual opening and closing dates are unknown. It was mid-block on the north side of the street between Flower and Figueroa. The building was demolished long ago. The City National Bank towers are now on the site. The page about the Star Theatre doesn't have any additional information other than a recent photo of the site.

Mark Taper Forum 
135 N. Grand Ave. | map |

This 739 seat thrust-style house, part of the L.A. County Music Center, opened in 1967. It's a design by Welton Becket. Along with the nearby Ahmanson Theatre, it's operated by the Center Theatre Group. For more information see the page about the Mark Taper Forum.

Teragram Ballroom / Playhouse Theatre
1234 W. 7th St. | map |

Possibly the theatre opened as early as 1913. In the 30s it was McKinney's Playhouse. The 490 seat theatre is known to have been operating as late as 1939, listed usually as just The Playhouse. It had a long spell as a violin store (among other things) in front with a church in the auditorium. The venue was back in business in 2015 as the Teragram Ballroom, the west coast outpost of people previously involved with New York's famed Bowery Ballroom. For more information see the page on the Teragram Ballroom/Playhouse Theatre.

Town / Pussycat Theatre 
444 S. Hill St. | map |

This 430 seat house opened in 1920 as Bard's Hill Street Theatre. It was a remodel of an existing one story building by Albert C. Martin. In the 30s it was renamed the Town Theatre. The 1965 photo is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. In March 1966 it became the Pussycat, the first theatre in the chain. It closed in 1985 and was later demolished. See the page on the Town Theatre for more information and photos.

Trinity Auditorium 
855 S. Grand Ave. | map |

The building opened in 1914 and has been used as a hotel, office building, college housing and church. The architects were Thornton Fitzhugh, Frank Krucker and Harry Deckbar. The 1,600 seat auditorium, while being used much for of its life as a church, has also been a theatre space. It has also been known as the Embassy Auditorium. The building was going to reopen a number of times but the deals between the owners, the Chetrit Group, and various operators all fell apart. The latest was a proposed late 2018 opening by Journal Hotels. The hope is that the auditorium will be revived as a performance space. We'll see. For more information see the page on the Trinity Auditorium.

Tunnel Theatre
712 W. 3rd St. | map |

This short-lived venue just west of the 3rd St. tunnel wasn't around for long. It was open in 1914 and by 1921 the building had been converted into a garage, surviving until the redevelopment of Bunker Hill. For more information see the page on the Tunnel Theatre.

Turnverein Hall
1345 Figueroa St. | map |

This two story wood frame building opened in September 1872. Inasmuch as the acoustics were better than at the Merced Theatre, it was the site of many early musical performances. It was on the west side of the street just south of Pico Blvd. The building was later moved for use as a hotel and the organization went on to several other buildings. The site is now part of the L.A. Convention center. The postcard is from the University of Indiana collection. See the page on the Turnverein Hall for more information.

Variety Arts Theatre
940 S. Figueroa St. | map |

The theatre opened in 1924 as the Playhouse in the Friday Morning Club, a social and political group for women. The main theatre seats 1,100 and a smaller theatre seats 250. The building, designed by the firm of Allison and Allison, also has a ballroom, lounges and many other public spaces. It became the Variety Arts in 1977 and later went through a succession of owners trying to figure out what to do with it. It was sold in 2012 to Robhana Management, Inc. In late 2015 a church group signed a long term lease on the building. They will move into the building in 2019, after a long renovation process. For more information see the Variety Arts Theatre pages: history + exterior views | interior views |

Warner Downtown Theatre
401 W. 7th St. | map |

It opened in 1920 as the Pantages, a move by the vaudeville circuit from an earlier home on Broadway. Seattle-based B. Marcus Priteca was the designer. The original capacity was listed as 2,200. It became the Warner in 1929 and was later known as the Warrens. It closed in 1975, had a brief interlude as a church, and the main floor is now a jewelry mart. Most of the decor is intact. For more information see the Warner Downtown pages:  history | vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | interior views |   

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

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