Million Dollar Theater

Last week, I looked up as I walked past the Million Dollar Theater at 307 S. Broadway in downtown L.A.  Although I was rushing towards the Bradbury Building, where my Austrian friends Eleonore and Monika were waiting for me, I slowed down long enough to shoot the Theater’s 3rd St. facade.  It is absolutely stunning.   

In 1918, Sid Grauman built his first movie house, which became known as the Million Dollar Theater due to its lavish construction budget.  A century ago, Broadway was the center of L.A.’s nightlife, before subsequent Grauman properties such as the landmark Chinese Theater shifted the city’s entertainment district north to Hollywood.  The once-glamorous movie palaces that still stand along Broadway resemble a chorus line of showgirls past their prime, their expressions vacant yet expectant.  Efforts to revive the district are ongoing, yet the local arbiters of nostalgic fauxhemia seem stuck in the 1980’s:  acid-washed denim is ripe for a revival if window displays in neighbourhood vintage clothing shops are bellwethers of the fashion industry (and they are).

Once a year, the L.A. Conservancy hosts “Last Remaining Seats“, a classic film festival that draws audiences into these neglected cinemas.  It is an opportunity for us to appreciate downtown L.A.’s historical significance and support the conservation of these architectural gems.

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  1. June 29th, 2010

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