Golden Gate Theatre

5176 Whittier Boulevard,
East Los Angeles, CA 90022

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kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm

The Vega building that fronted the theater was demolished in 1992, following the 1987 Whittier earthquake, according to this LA Times excerpt from May 1993:

The county Regional Planning Commission recently approved plans for renovating the old Golden Gate Theater, clearing the way for contractors to draw up architectural plans for a restaurant and offices on the lot. El Gallo Giro will build a restaurant at Whittier and Atlantic boulevards, where the old Vega Building once stood. The building will have a tower resembling the one that highlighted the Vega Building, as well as skylights.

Work is expected to begin in late May or early June, said Michael Rose, project manager and director of construction for El Gallo Giro Corp., which has a 45-year lease on the site. He expects renovations and construction on the $2-million project to be complete by Christmas. “We hired an architect who was involved in the City Hall (renovation) to preserve the historical integrity of the project, which are the facade and a number of interior aspects,” Rose said. “We sat down with community leaders because we were interested in community input, especially with this site.”

The Vega Building served as an arcade to the theater until the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake rendered it uninhabitable. The building was demolished in December to make way for construction. The vaulted floor of the theater, which has an ornate gold-leaf interior and was built in 1927, will be leveled to allow for community use such as meetings, weddings and quinceaneras celebrations, Rose said.

The company will also restore the courtyard between the two buildings and convert the theater lobby into offices, which will become El Gallo Giro’s corporate headquarters, Rose said. Carrie Sutkin, planning deputy for Supervisor Gloria Molina, said residents were especially concerned about improving the appearance of that lot, which was boarded up since the earthquake.

“Everyone wanted to save the theater and they wanted to restore Whittier Boulevard because it’s been so blighted,” Sutkin said.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 10, 2009 at 11:03 am

Here is a 1983 photo showing the two marquees:
http://tinyurl.com/cwgdwg

Irene225
Irene225 on June 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm

What great memories reading this site. I was born in ELA in 1941 and lived on McBride Avenue at 3rd Street until 1951 when we moved to Whittier. I went to St. Alphonsus from first to 5th grades, starting out at Humphries Elementary School. I used to walk to the Strand, the Boulevard, the Center, the Royal, the United Artist and of course the beautiful Golden Gate where I loved Mighty Mouse cartoons and the serials (Red Ryder with Bobby Blake playing Little Beaver). It used to cost 9 cents to get into most of the theaters. The Center used to have contests for kids on Saturdays on the stage before the movie. We used to always shop on Whittier Blvd. I used to go to the Unique on 1st Street, too. My dad went to Garfield High School and after the war (WWII) worked at Royal Tire (now The Ciadel Outlets) before he started work at Fred C. Nelles in Whittier. I love to reminisce and if any of my old school buddies at St. Alphonsus are still around, please write.

WhittierBlvd1970
WhittierBlvd1970 on May 12, 2008 at 8:17 pm

I am a local historian and former resident of the E.L.A.,Whittier Boulevard neighborhood.
I am planning a multi-media historical compilation on this famous street for possible future public presentation and publication. The approximate area of focus is Whittier Blvd. from Evergreen Cemetery to Atlantic Boulevard and the adjoining neighborhoods.
I am currently compiling first hand accounts, narratives, anecdotes and memories related to experiences from individuals who have lived, worked or visited this area from as early an era as possible, up until no later than 1980s. Also, anyone having possession or access to photographs, film, recordings or any media related to this strip of Whittier Blvd. from this time period, is also sought for this project. Any amount of input is helpful.
All information and assistance will be greatly appreciated. Please contact.
Al Guerrero
P.O. Box 29697
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 666-2377

May 2008

lisacerda
lisacerda on April 23, 2008 at 10:44 am

Wow! I’m 40 years old now, and reading all these lovely memories has made more nostalgic for my childhood than ever before. I loved Anthony’s discription, and yes, I did get to go to Clifton’s. My mom worked in a restaurant in downtown and she’d take me there to eat instead. This is when I used to be able to take a bus from Duncan and Whittier Blvd. at 7 years old all the way to downtown without a fear in my body. sigh We lived at the Hotel Ashmun right on the corner of Duncan and Whittier Blvd., right around 1974 or 1975, my mom worked at the ticket booth for The Boulevard, and I used to sit at the window of the hotel just watching all the “cruising” in those days, mesmerized by how sharp all the ladies looked, and how the men (or boys) would be so calm and cool and collected trying to win their girl. The Golden Gate theatre became my favorite later in the late in early 80’s, when my friends and I could go in the balcony and giggle without bothering anyone. The very last movie I saw there (with my friends who attended my slumber party) was Friday the 13th. This was a nice memory. Thank you for this everyone!
Lisa

William
William on February 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm

“The Toy Tiger” was released around July 1956. So the picture might date around July-Aug of that year.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 14, 2008 at 2:13 pm

The B film is “The Toy Tiger”.

William
William on February 14, 2008 at 2:06 pm

The “A” feature of the bill was “D Day 6th of June”. (opened May 29th. 1956)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Here is a 1956 photo from the LA Library:
http://tinyurl.com/3248mk

vokoban
vokoban on November 12, 2007 at 7:37 pm

Maybe this mess will be a warning for people who have no concern or thought for buildings that were built when beauty mattered, not just utilitarian nonsense. I, for one, see examples every day of success stories that deal with compromise and intelligent reuse of buildings. If it weren’t for the Conservancy we wouldn’t have the Central Library, Bullocks Wilshire, Vibiana’s Cathedral…the list goes on and on. Anyone can take a look around and see that there are acres upon acres of empty flat parking lots around Los Angeles just waiting for new construction. Of course, some people are going to get burned but people die eventually and hopefully buildings don’t have to all the time. Future generations deserve to see what we see now.

kngsmama
kngsmama on November 12, 2007 at 6:54 pm

You got me I can’t spell. Conservancy. It’s just frustrating to think that someone can’t do what they want with their own personal property. It happens over and over again and we live in America. It makes one leery to invest in real estate in LA. This property was registered historical without the owner permission in 1982 then in 1987 the quake condemned it and now here it sits. The owner had to sale it for nothing because they couldn’t afford to keep it due to the bureaucratic BS.

vokoban
vokoban on November 12, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Anyone is free to their opinion on this site. I didn’t read anyone saying they had a ‘right’ to choose what ultimately happens with this property. They are simply stating their opinion, just like you, which they do have every right. By the way, what’s the conservatory….a green house or a music school?

kngsmama
kngsmama on November 12, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Who are you all to think you should choose what should or shouldn’t go into to a property that you have nothing to do with. Someone has invested a lot of money into a piece of real estate that has been an eye sore for 20 years since it was condemned after the 1987 quake. It’s been sitting there because everyone thinks they should have a say in what it should be. At one time with the Vega building it was a historical beauty, but without it it’s a eye sore. I grew up in that theater and ate at Jim’s weekly, but when someone’s lively hood was determined by the conservatory, it’s a shame. Take out what you think should be preserved, put it into a museum and make the building into something the community can use and enjoy looking at.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 26, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Here is a 1965 ad from the Valley News:
http://tinyurl.com/2kalje

William
William on August 17, 2007 at 1:42 pm

It all depends on how they handle the warehouse part of the building. The ones that I’ve seen in NYC / NJ are not very good towards featuring the theatre. But when you look at how the Studio City or the Loma theatres as book stores they have come out nice for a store. The former Fox Pasadena theatre (Gap store) across from the old UA plex in Pasadena. The only way you knew it was a theatre before other than living in Pasadena for a long time, was the rear sign on the building. By saying the GG was too big for a drug store, I’m saying the GG is the perfect size for one of those conversions. I just hope they use the theatre’s interior features then false ceilings that I have seen in the conversions.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 17, 2007 at 1:30 pm

How could I be right or wrong? I was surmising, not asserting that the GG was too big for a drug store. I object.

William
William on August 17, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Lost, Your right you finished your post while I was still typing mine. My post was for ken mc the one you were posting also for.

William
William on August 17, 2007 at 1:26 pm

The former RKO Capitol Theatre in Union City, New Jersey was converted into a Rite Aid drug store. It seated 2129 people with balcony.

William
William on August 17, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Your wrong there. They use the front half of the theatre for warehouse storage for the store. And they wall off from there and use and re-configure the rest of the lobby areas. A 1500 seat or so size is the right size for a Walgreen/CVS/Thifty type of drug. The upper parts of the auditorium is covered over with false ceiling tiles. The old Warner Lincoln Theatre in Union City, New Jersey is retail now and only former theatres in NY.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 17, 2007 at 1:03 pm

It seems kind of large for a drug store, though.

William
William on August 17, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Well in some conversions to Walgreen type stores. They put false ceilings in and use some of the auditorium area from their warehouse use. There are many former theatres that have been turned into this type of use here in New York and New Jersey. Most of the times the interior features are just covered over.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 17, 2007 at 11:52 am

I guess a Walgreens is a “positive re-use”, depending on how much is left after the renovation. Better than demolition, anyway.

vokoban
vokoban on August 5, 2007 at 7:30 pm

The Conservancy does extend to East LA….here’s a link about it, but I don’t know how current it is:

View link