The Broadway Theatre District of Downtown Los Angeles

Last Saturday my husband and I continued our project of viewing Downtown Los Angeles through the eyes of a tourist. Having already explored the arts district we next set our sights on the Broadway Theatre District, home to the largest surviving group of old style movie palaces in the country.

Once again we began our journey by hoping on the MetroRail Expo line in Culver City and taking it into Downtown Los Angeles and the 7th Street Metro Station. We then began our walk to Broadway to begin our tour.

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It was perfect weather in Downtown LA that afternoon. It was a tiny bit cool in the shade but nice and warm in the sun. Since the train dropped us off at 7th Street we decided to begin our tour on the South end of the Broadway Theatre District and 9th and Broadway.

The first theatre we saw was the United Artist theatre.

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I really liked this one. It has a very large marquee and signage which makes it stand out.

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If you look carefully you can see how beautifully designed and decorated the inside is. I was thrilled to read that the interior was designed in a gothic style inspired by a city north of Madrid in Spain called Segovia, which is one of my favorite places in all of Spain.

We did not got into any of the theatres last week but there is one theatre that I been inside in the past and that was our next stop, the Orpheum Theatre. I had the chance to go inside of this amazing theatre in 2002 when I volunteered for a film festival called Outfest. I can speak from experience that the inside of this theatre is very nice and it’s a shame that the other theaters have not been kept up the same way this one has.

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The South end of the Broadway Theatre District is on the edge of some of the massive gentrification that his changing the face of Downtown Los Angeles. However, as you head further north you get into an area that is far from gentrification.

The next theatre we saw was the Rialto. The space that the Rialto theatre occupied has been turned into an Urban Outfitters store, so technically we could have gone into this space but we choose not to.

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The Tower Theatre was one of my favorite theatres from the outside. It has an impressive “modified French Renaissance” design. I can only imagine what it would have been like to go to movie in that impressive space seventy or eighty years ago.

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Very little of the Globe Theatre still exists, which is quite sad.

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Loew’s State theatre was next up on our tour. This space is now a Spanish Language church.

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That was followed by the Palace, where I was able to get a so-so picture of the entrance area.

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The Los Angeles has a great exterior. It feels like it belongs in either a different time or a different place.

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By this time we were in the truly wretched part of the Broadway Theatre District. However, we surprised to see a cute little French Restaurant nestled in between some of the nastiness.

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We ended up having an early dinner, but more on that latter.

The Arcade Theatre has been reduced to an electronics store.

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But it was cool to see that the Pantages sign still rests above.

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If you blink it would be easy to miss the Cameo theatre.

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While the Roxie has enough intact that you could see that it would have been nice long ago.

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The last theatre is a couple of blocks north of the other ones and once you get to it you begin to sense the gentrification of the Bunker Hill Area. The last theatre is the Million Dollar Theatre.

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This theatre is currently being used for location filming. It makes me happy to know that someday I might watch a TV show or a movie that will show the inside of this beautiful theatre.

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I really enjoyed seeing all of these theaters but it made me really sad. People like to give Los Angeles a lot of shit for not having culture. However, the history that has come out of Los Angeles over the last hundred years has helped shape the world. That history, of course, is film history. I’m glad that these theatres structures survive but it really makes me sad that our IMAX 3-D culture has allowed these structures to sit empty. I would love to travel back in time and see some of the films of Hollywood’s Golden age in the beautiful movie palaces. I’d take that over stadium seating any day.

After our walking tour was over we were hungry. We considered eating at Grand Central Market, home of a place called Egg Slut.

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But we decided to leave that for another Downtown visit.

t speak highly enough about this place. As expected the dinner menu was expensive but we were lucky. We happened to walk in there for happy hour. We ordered five dishes for just over thirty dollars and just as good as the atmosphere of the restaurant.

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The inside really feels like you’re in France. The outside is has chairs set up for people watching, just like they are in Paris. As we were leaving I took two croissants to go.

On our walk back to the train we stumbled across a really cool place called, St. Vincent’s Court.

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There were a lot of cute looks places that must only be open during the week.

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We’ll have return sometime during the week.

I really enjoyed our time in the Broadway Theatre district. Maybe it’s because I was a film major in college and maybe it was the great French Food but I liked the Broadway Theatre district more than the Arts District. I will definitely return. There apparently is a tour on Saturday mornings that allows people to go into one of the theatres. I would like to do that at some points and I will return in a heartbeat for happy hour at “Los Noces Du Figaro”(if you’re downtown you should check it out too http://www.figarobistrot.com/noces/index.html)

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