270 E. Seaside Way Long Beach, CA 90802 | map |
Opened: It was completed in late 1931 and had an official opening March 8, 1932. It was a replacement for the 1905 Auditorium building located a bit farther west at Pine and Seaside. This second Auditorium building extended 500 feet out into the Pacific.
It had a concert hall in the rounded end of the building facing the
ocean. The rest of the building was an exhibition hall with a flat main floor and a
balcony wrapping around three sides.
This card was published by Longshaw Card. Co., Los Angeles. Their copy on the back: "Sheltered from the ocean by the 3,800 foot semi-circular Rainbow Pier, this giant structure, the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium, is the scene of many important athletic, civic and social events." Other postcard views from this angle are on Card Cow: version 1 | version 2 |
Architect: J. Harold McDowell with William Horace Austin as associate. The ceiling mural in the Concert Hall was by Martin Sybertson.
The mosaic on the facade was assembled in 1937. It was done under the
direction of Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Albert Henry King from a
design by Henry Allen Nord. It was meant to be seen from miles away
because of its huge proportions and the location at the end of American
Way (Route 6). American was later renamed Long Beach Blvd. The mosaic
from the facade was removed when the building was demolished and is now
at 3rd and Locust.
Stage: The stages of the two spaces were back to back. The rigging system T-wall and the lighting controls were on the east end of the stage. That would be off-right with reference to the Exhibition Hall proscenium.
Proscenium: 60' wide x 29' high on the Exhibition Hall side. This information as well as some of the data below comes from the 1949 edition of the
"ATPAM Theatre, Arena and Auditorium Guide." It's on Bob Foreman's terrific Vintage Theatre Catalogs site.
While some of this ATPAM information has been useful, several items were erroneous such as the discussion of flyfloors and the listing of the rigging as a hemp system. FTS = footlights. TPS = traps.
Grid height: 65 ft.
Rigging: It was a counterweight system by the Hollinger Co. with what looks like 50 linesets. The index striplight notes that it was the "Hollinger Improved Wall-Track Counterweight System manufactured and installed by Fabric Studios 4030 Whiteside Ave Los Angeles." In addition, they noted you could "Phone AN-4016 day or night."
Stage wall-to-wall: 85 ft. according to the ATPAM Guide.
Curtain line to footlights: 2 ft.
Curtain to back wall: 35 ft., according to the ATPAM guide.
Dressing rooms: 1 at stage level, 12 upstairs, 1 in the basement.
Dimmer system: A Westinghouse 10 preset electronic system using thyratron tubes to control saturable reactor dimmers. A similar system was installed at the Los Angeles Theatre. See that page for more information on this type of system.
Seating: 8,000 in the Exhibition Hall. When set up for legit
theatre use, the capacity was 2,843. That number comes from the 1949 ATPAM Guide. The capacity of the Concert
Hall was 1,377.
The building got an Arena added behind it in 1964.
Status: It was demolished in 1975 for construction of the Terrace Theatre and Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.
Concert Hall interior views:
There were 5 borderlights, numbered starting with Border 1, the concert border for the Exhibition Hall. Borders 2, 3 and 4 were continuous strips, fed from a junction box in the center of each. Borders 1 and 5 were referred to as concert borders with #5 (closest to us in the photo) listed on the dimmer board as "Border No. 5 Cyclorama." The two concert borders were individual 3-lamp units, each cord-and-plug connected to a raceway above. The borders were manufactured by the Los Angeles firm C.W. Cole, now located in South El Monte.
Looking across to stage left. We're using that designation with reference to the proscenium of the Exhibition Hall, out to the right. On the left it's the back of the Concert Hall's asbestos. Above are borderlights 2, 3 and 4. There's also a concert border for each house. It's a 1932 Inman Co. photo from the Ronald W. Mahan Collection.
The view to stage right with the Expo Hall off to the left. It's a 1932 Inman Co. photo from the Ronald W. Mahan Collection.
A closer look at the main control board of the Westinghouse thyratron/saturable reactor dimmer system and the Hollinger counterweight system T-wall. It's a 1932 Inman Co. photo from the Ronald W. Mahan Collection.
A detail of the index striplight from the previous photos. There were 45 numbered sets plus 5 for the electrics. What are you going to do with the numbering with two proscenia? Well they started at the Expo Hall proscenium (on the left) did 1 to 23 and then 22 down to 1 toward the Concert Hall proscenium. Here's the whole scheme:
Expo Hall proscenium >> 1 | 2 | Concert Border Light | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | Border Light No. 2 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 * | 22 | gap for doorway | Border Light No. 3 | 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | Border No. 4 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | Concert Border Light ** | 2 | 1 | >> Concert Hall proscenium
* It's not known if the numbers were all in the right places at the time of the photo but there seems to be no number up for Expo Hall set 21.
** The set on the Concert Hall side labeled here as "Concert Border Light" is seen on the dimmer board as "Border No. 5 Cyclorama."
A fine view to the loading bridge. It's a 1932 Inman Co. photo from the Ronald W. Mahan Collection.
Stage manager Joe Brown at the Westinghouse "Thermionic Control" board. It's a 1932 Inman Co. photo in the Ronald W. Mahan Collection. The system used thyratron tubes to control saturable reactor dimmers that were located in the basement. This was a 10 preset installation with stage circuits on the main board in the foreground and house circuits on the angled wing where Joe was standing. We're offstage right with respect to the proscenium of the Exhibition Hall.
Another Inman Co. photo offering a better view of that wing on the right, used for house lights. Note that both sections were on wheels. Photo: Ronald W. Mahan Collection
A detail of the left end of the board taken from the previous photo. Down the right hand side are the Color Master faders for the white, red and blue rows of dimmer controls. Above each master is a switch to select whether this master operates independently or is controlled by the Stage Master.
On the upper left panel: The meter below the clock shows the voltage from the generator that powers the control system. The lamp above it is labeled "Generator Pilot Lamp." On the right are the two rows of 11 push buttons and associated indicator lamps to select which of 10 presets (or BO for blackout) is currently active and which will be faded to next. The meter below shows the progress of the fade. Here it appears, with the meter pointing left, that whatever was selected on the left row of buttons is active.
On the center left panel: The fader on the left is labeled House Master, the one on the far right is the Stage Master. In the middle it's a house telephone and some miscellaneous switches.
On the lower left panel: The grand master wheel to fade between presets.
Another detail showing all the controls on the main board. The three rows are to control dimmers assigned to white, red and blue circuits. To the right of the color masters each row has 17 sections. 15 are dimmer controls and two have switches to select certain sub-groups assigned to some of the floor pocket dimmers. From the left on each row:
Color Master | Footlights* | Foot Baby Spots | Ante Proscenium Spots | Ante Proscenium Floods | Concert Border Baby Spots Left | Concert Border Baby Spots Right | Border No. 1 Concert ** | Border No. 2 | Border No. 3 | Border No. 4 | Border No. 5 Cyclorama | Pockets No. 1 & 2 Left | 2 switches: Pockets No. 1 Left, Pockets No. 2 Left | Pockets No. 3 & 4 Left | Pockets No. 1 & 2 Right | 2 switches: Pockets No. 1 Right, Pockets No. 2 Right | Pockets No. 1 & 2 Right |
* Both the Concert Hall and Exhibition Hall had footlights. There was switching somewhere to determine which set you wanted to use.
** The borders were numbered starting with the proscenium of the Exhibition Hall. What we see here labeled as "Border No. 5 Cyclorama" also served as Border 1 for the Concert Hall and on the rigging system index strip it's labeled as "Concert Border Light."
A detail of the controls for two stage dimmer groups. A dimmer would feed multiple circuits, each protected by a branch circuit fuse elsewhere.
At the top: a 3 position switch, presumably to select operation via the preset controls, use of the rehearsal fader in independent mode, or use of the rehearsal fader assigned to the appropriate color master. | An indicator light showing intensity of the particular dimmer. | Another 3 position switch, perhaps in this case to offer a bump/test option, normal operation in the center, and an off mode in the bottom position. | 10 small sliders to select the intensity levels for the 10 presets. Here they're all up at maximum. | The large fader at the bottom would be for rehearsal use or manual control of a particular dimmer if you didn't select preset operation.
Note: On the Westinghouse board of a year earlier at the Los Angeles Theatre there were also two selector switches. A two position switch at the top selected between preset or rehearsal mode. A three position switch below selected independent | off | assigned to color master.
A detail showing the smaller section of the board used for house lights. The vertical row of 14 lights on the left was the dressing room call system.
The same board shoved back into the corner up against the proscenium wall. That appears to be the house light section of the board on the left edge of the image. Photo: Inman Co., Ronald W. Mahan Collection
The main section of the board at the same location seen in the photo above but here with stage manager Joe Brown at the controls. Photo: Inman Co., Ronald W. Mahan Collection. Many thanks to Ron for sharing these terrific shots.
Brown's hand is on one of the color masters. To the left of that note the two rows of 11 indicator lamps and push button switches to select which of the 10 presets (or blackout) was currently active and which was to be faded to next.
A November 1951 L.A. Examiner photo of 17 year old Jo Barbara Brown, winner of a Little Miss Universe contest having something to do with a Rose Parade float. The photo appears on the USC Digital Library
website. Thanks to Ron Mahan for locating it in the collection.
Exhibition Hall interior views:
A Winstead photo from the Ronald W. Mahan Collection.
A choral event in progress. Thanks to the Ronald W. Mahan Collection for the photo.
More exterior views:
- A lovely shot down American Ave. (later renamed Long Beach Blvd.) toward
the new Auditorium, then under construction. On the far right
are the old Auditorium and the Jergins Trust Building with the State Theatre
. The uncredited
photo from the California Historical Society appears on the USC Digital Library
- A view from the California Historical Society appearing on the USC Digital Library
1932 - An Inman Co. photo. Thanks to the Ronald W. Mahan Collection for sharing this. Ron comments: "This is a new scan of a photo that has never been published before. It's from an 8 x10 negative in my collection."
c.1932 - Thanks to the Ronald W. Mahan Collection for sharing this photo.
- The Capitol Theatre, soon to become the Tracy
, can be seen where the walkway around the Auditorium intersects with Seaside Way. In the upper center we get a view of the West Coast Theatre
. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library
- The signage for the Capitol Theatre is visible on the far left of this fine
view east toward the new Auditorium. This side of the Capitol
we also get half of the sign for the Pike Theatre, later to become the
. The Padilla Studios photo from the California Historical Society
collection appears on the USC Digital Library
- A similar view as a Frasher Foto Card. It's in the collection of the Pomona Public Library
where they give it a 1940 date. Again we see a bit of the signage for the Capitol Theatre on the left, indicating that it's 1934 or earlier.
- A view of the west side of the building from Card Cow
- A view of the Concert Hall end of the building from Card Cow
. Note that the left end of the walkway heads directly for the Tracy Theatre.
- An interesting view from the southeast. It's another from the site Card Cow
- Up in the air from the northeast. It's a card from Card Cow
- A look up Seaside toward the Cinderella Ballroom, the Robinson Apartments and the Villa Riviera Apartments. The Auditorium is on
the right in this photo attributed to William Horace Austin, the project's
associate architect. It's in the California State Library
collection, their #001384186.
- A bit of the Jergins Trust / State Theatre building is visible to the right of the Auditorium in this Los Angeles Public Library
photo. On the right it's the Breakers Hotel.
- A view down American Ave., now called Long Beach Blvd. It's a Works Progress Administration photo in the Los Angeles Public Library
- Two sailors inspecting the mosaic. It's a Federal Writers Project / Works Progress Administration photo in the Los Angeles Public Library
- A Works Progress Administration photo in the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library
. The Library's caption notes: "The mosaic was assembled in 1937 by artists working under the direction of Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Albert Henry King from an original design by Henry Allen Nord..."
- A card from the California State Library
collection, their item # 001393246. It's unknown how the Library arrived at the date.
- A view from the California Historical Society appearing on the USC Digital Library
- A view across toward the Municipal Auditorium. That's a bit of the
Ocean Center Building on the far left with the Jergins Trust Building
beyond. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for locating this one on eBay. This
copy has a 1953 postmark. Card Cow
also has a version of the card.
- A card showing off the wonders of Long Beach including, of course,
the Municipal Auditorium. This one appeared as a post on the Photos of
Los Angeles Facebook page but has vanished from that platform.
- An October slide from the collection of David Smith that he shared on the private Facebook group Growing Up In Long Beach
. Thanks, David!
- A nice shot of the Auditorium. Look down and you're viewing
the roof of the Tracy Theatre. It's a photo by Loomis Dean for Life
appearing on Life Images/Google
1956 - More high wire action several years later. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the photo from the Corbis agency.
- A card located by Kevin Fleming for a post on the private Facebook group Southern California Nostalgia
. He notes that the Cyclone Racer can be seen on the right.
- A forlorn look east on Seaside Way from Pine St. that's in the
Automobile Club of Southern California collection. It appears on the USC Digital Library
website. The Tracy is in the center of the image.
- Construction beginning on the Long Beach Arena. It's a January photo by Harry Merrick that's in the Long Beach Public Library
c.1962 - The Auditorium and its new circular neighbor. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for sharing this card from her collection.
- The demolition was complete except for parts of the stagehouse. Footing and foundation work was underway for the new buildings on the site. It's a photo by Harry Merrick in the Long Beach Public Library
- After the Auditorium's demolition. On the left are the remnants of The Pike, the Ocean Center Building,
the Jergins Trust Building and the Breakers Hotel. Farther east, in the
upper center, the West Coast Theatre is still on Ocean Blvd. In the
center there are views of the Convention Center, the Terrace Theatre, and
the Long Beach Arena. Thanks to Rick Warren for sharing his photo on
Flickr. It's included in his great "L.B. Pix From The 80s
c.2010 - A photo of the facade's mosaic that was posted on a page of the now-dead site New Deal Network.
east toward what had been the northeast corner of 3rd and Locust, site of the Tabernacle
, Long Beach's first performing arts center. That's the mosaic that was once on the Municipal Auditorium. Photo: Google Maps
- The replacement building, the Terrace Theatre
, opened in 1978. On the left it's a view south on Hart Place. Over to the right we're looking west on Seaside Way. Photo: Google Maps.
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