Boyd Theatre

1908-18 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Unfavorite 38 people favorited this theater

Showing 101 - 125 of 484 comments

HowardBHaas on January 29, 2009 at 1:01 am

I saw movies regularly here. The balcony was indeed closed off. The orchestra had long ago been reseated, so rows were permanently gone, rather than “missing.” 40% sounds too high for seats roped off.

AdoraKiaOra on January 29, 2009 at 12:53 am

When I saw a movie here in the mid/late 90s I couldn’t believe I was sitting in a theatre in such a terrible state of disrepair. Obviously the balcony was closed off but I would say that at least 40% of the orchestra seating was blocked off too. Many rows were missing altogether and it took me 3 seats to find one not broken. It was a fabulous experience seeing such a stunning theatre still open and showing movies. I had a good look around and it was certainly still showing signs of its once wonderful past. I cant remember what movie I saw but it was just me and six others there that evening.
Good luck to any project that saves this gem of a theatre.

alps on December 13, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Let me be first to say, HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY BOYD THEATRE!!!!!
Hope to see you soon.

bruceanthony on October 2, 2008 at 8:19 pm

I hope this plan happens its a win win for everyone.Live Nation will be able to sell the property but still book the theatre with 60 acts a year. The Hotel will make the theatre more vaible and at the same time revive the area the Boyd is in. The Boyd will get the restoration it deserves and the Academy of Music and the Kimmell Center are still able to book Broadway shows.brucec

LuisV on September 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Nevermind Al……..Here is a summary of the news item.

PHILADELPHIA, PA â€" A local developer says he has a deal in place to buy the [url/theater/1209/] Boyd Theatre[/url] and plans to make it the centerpiece of a $95 million hotel and entertainment complex. Hal Wheeler of ARCWheeler expects to close the deal with current owner Live Nation by November 25, and intends to build a 30-story, 250-room hotel to the west of the theater.

Live Nation would book live entertainment into the theater about 60 nights a year, leaving it available for other events the rest of the time. Broadway-type plays would not be part of the plan, as the hotel would be built on land that was to be the site of a stage house for the Boyd under a previous proposal.

Wheeler’s development proposal, like Live Nation’s earlier plan to turn the Boyd into a Broadway roadhouse, would restore the theater to its original art deco glamour. But the project’s scope is far more ambitious, and aims to transform the 1900 block of Chestnut Street from a retail backwater into a Center City nightlife destination.

LuisV on September 10, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Al…What news? Please share. Thanks!

alps on September 10, 2008 at 2:42 am

Good news today in the newspaper about the Boyd Theater. I hope the deal works out, I would at least liken it to the Tower Theater, only with places to eat and nearby clubs, will make it “the” Chestnut St. happening. I pray the new owners will not back out on the film part, like the Prince did. Until then, thank you, Howard, you have put up with nonscence by some on this site and you’ve handled it with class. Why should Ambler have all the fun?

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on August 11, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Yes — our add-a-photo feature is currently offline, but we look forward to adding this capability in the near future. Users routinely post images on flickr or other sites and link them to theater pages and/or find other images and post links to them here.

Rogue on August 11, 2008 at 5:20 pm

I can’t believe no one has submitted a photo of this theatre.

uptownjen on August 8, 2008 at 10:59 pm

congrats to you, friends of the boyd!

HowardBHaas on August 8, 2008 at 6:04 pm

This morning, the Philadelphia Historical Commission unanimously voted to add the Boyd Theatre to the PHILADELPHIA REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES!

Designation of the Boyd means that the building’s exterior is legally protected from demolition or alteration. Today’s decision was a landmark reversal of the 2002 denial. Today’s action means that the City of Philadelphia has done the right thing in taking this step! It does not mean the plywood on the facade comes down and the Boyd magically reopens, with its ornate Art Deco exterior and interior restored for public entertainment.
There’s more work to do!

HowardBHaas on August 7, 2008 at 12:38 pm

(1) Cover story on Philadelphia theaters in today’s City Paper, including the Boyd. This you can read online:
View link

(2) new Arcadia book, Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, also features the Boyd on one page.
View link

kencmcintyre on August 5, 2008 at 2:32 am

I took this place for granted when I lived in Philly. I had my pick of theaters, though, with the Goldman, the houses at 16th and Chestnut, the Midtown over by Broad Street, and even the Fox, which disappeared soon after I moved to town. Them was the days.

HowardBHaas on August 5, 2008 at 2:17 am

Friends of the Boyd have had several hundred people show up to support our cause many times, including various film fundraisers at International House, and at one particular tour. We’ve received tons of letters, emails, and other communications in support, and have a mailing list in the thousands. There’s no question that the public overwhelmingly supports our cause.

dennisczimmerman on August 5, 2008 at 2:13 am

Many many comments ago I mentioned it would be nice if someone put together a book of the Boyd Theatre. Detailing the history of the theatre and including as many pictures as possible. I know it would not raise enough money to restore the theatre, but I would certainly think there is enough interest in this theatre that the book would sell and at least help raise funds. I have bought enough “books” from the Theatre Historical organization which, in size comparison, would be similar to the souvenier programs that were sold during the roadshow film days. I am so glad I took the pictures I took back in the 1960’s of the Philadelphia theatres. However, I only have exterior pictures. It would be nice to have some history of the interiors as well. Since the Boyd is the only one left standing, this an opportunity worth pursuing. I am also still amazed at the number of people who attend rallies, meetings, etc. With the population of Philadelphia, you would certainly think more than a handful to a hundred would participate. I know the wheels of progress turn slow, but I keep thinking if the citizens of Philadelphia really cared, there would be an outpouring of support to save this masterpiece. There have been other theatres in a lot worse condition that have been brought back to life across this country. Do you suppose by the time the “touring revival of ‘The Lion King’ travels the country the Boyd could be one of its stops??

LuisV on August 4, 2008 at 4:21 pm

What’s very funny to me is that when I was young, I didn’t truly appreciate the palaces either, probably because there were so many of them. Marcus Loew famously said, “I don’t sell tickets to movies, I sell tickets to theaters!” While I was always happy to see a film at my favorite palace, The Valencia, I picked a theater based on what was playing and how close it was to my house (which was usually the crappier theaters). I only grew to truly appreciate them once I wasn’t able to see a movie in a movie palace anymore and now I realize what was truly lost. I’m not old enough to remember the heyday of moviegoing, but I can only imagine what it was like.

Many of us may also remember the Grand Banking Halls of our youth, with the huge Corinthian Columns and Chandeliers and Marble Floors and Brass finishes. They were spectacular! But today, they don’t make any sense financially and so very few of them remain and fewer still remain as actual banks. Most were torn down since they usually sat on prime land and had a lot of unuse air rights, but in New York a few incredible examples survive as party/event spaces. Some of the best examples are 2 Bowery Savings Bank buildings (one on The Bowery and the other on 42nd Street), The Old Citibank at 55 Wall Street and The Greenwich Savings Bank on 6th Avenue. The Williamsburg Savings Bank in Brooklyn is being turned into retail but will be beautifully restored as well. They survive because of a combination of strong Landmark and Zoning Laws and the ability to find an adaptive resuse of the property now that the old one no longer worked financially.

The point is that these buildings were quite beautiful but were built for a different age and a different economy. They survive today becaue they have found alternate uses.

The Boyd will not survive based on movies alone. It must be geared toward live theater and concerts and corporate events. it would be wonderful if it could still show movies as well, but that can’t be its primary purpose if it is to survive.

bruceanthony on August 4, 2008 at 3:41 pm

The Boyd’s role should be Broadway shows and live concerts that is why Live Nation bought the theatre in the first place. Live Nation sold its theatres across the nation to focus on the music business. Its not a reflection on the Boyd that Live Nation has the theatre for sale. The Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center don’t want to loose there Broadway shows but that is what should be done just as they took away shows from the Forrest and Merrium theatres which are to small to host the larger Broadway productions such as “Wicked”. Philidelphia is one of the largest markets for touring Broadway shows that doesn’t have a suitable theatre such as the Boyd with its 2400 seats. The Boyd should be allowed to present concert acts despite Live Nation’s clause which would not allow another owner to stage concert acts. A films series should be part of the programming of the Boyd when the theatre is dark. The Boyd is very lucky that is has Howard rooting for its survival.brucec

HowardBHaas on August 4, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Friends of the Boyd have long advocated that movie premieres, a film classic series, and film festivals be hosted at the Boyd. To operate in the black, the Boyd will need to host live shows. 1st run movies will play at 1st run movie theaters- which is no longer the Boyd’s role. Huge, ornate movie palaces in most US cities primarily host live shows, and sometimes a film series.

TheaterBuff1 on August 4, 2008 at 6:13 am

When movie theater going was at its height, it would not have been unusual for movie palaces such as the Boyd to run at full capacity daily. But that shouldn’t be the expected norm at any time. For if it’s looked upon that way it’s the worst possible way to try to run a theater, and accounts for why so many Philadelphia theaters folded. For that’s a terrible — and might I add extremely arrogant — pressure to put on the public; to expect them to pack the movie palace every day, and if they don’t, shame on them, blame the public for the theater’s failure and all that. It’s great if a theater can run at full capacity daily, but a theater should not be budgeted at if it automatically will. Rather, a much more down to earth expectation, and how the theater operational budget should be geared, is for a fairly good turnout on weekends and holidays, but just a small smattering of dedicated theater-goers all other times. And any theater attendance beyond that should be treated as unexpected windfall only. There are many things theaters can and should do to increase theater attendance. But putting a guilt trip on the public for not coming as often as the theater operator thinks it should should not be one of them.

To be a great theater operator you have to love people, and by that I mean love them for what they really are, not what you want them to be. If you can’t do that you don’t belong in the theater business, period. And to love people for what they really are in this instance means that any turnout, whether it’s a huge one or small, should be seen as a great turnout. Furthermore, a theater’s operational budget should be based on the annual take, not the daily one. We should not be thinking how much this theater can make per day but how much per year, and base every budget projection on that alone. A theater should be set up so that it operates daily, but not with the expectations that it will get a good turn out daily. For that’s the best way to kill a theater I know of.

finkysteet on August 4, 2008 at 12:31 am

And a live show at the Boyd trumps a-hole-in-the-ground-where-the-Boyd-once-stood scenario. Still, my heart yearns for a taste of yesteryear.

HowardBHaas on August 3, 2008 at 11:41 pm

As LuisV knows so well, most movie palaces nationwide don’t show daily movies anymore. Gorgeous movie palaces, like the Boyd, are restored & reopened primarily for live shows.

finkysteet on August 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm

I also meant to add that the sale of such items wouldn’t exactly cover the entire cost of restoration, but I felt it would raise more awareness of the importance of preserving it to those who may not know about it at all.

My family and I were discussing the entire moviegoing experience today, and sadly many of our youth just don’t care (or even know) what Art Deco is. “But who really cares? It’s just a movie theater,” my eldest daughter said. “It looks real nice on the inside but is all that (decor) really necessary these days when we just want to see the picture?” I told her that in the case of multiplexes, the answer is an emphatic NO, especially given how bad the economy is these days. And, truthfully, most patrons wouldn’t care one iota about how the place looked. But since the beautiful Boyd is in a precarious situation, it should be held in a higher esteem and viewed as a true work of art, rather than just another movie house. We also owe it to all the architects who designed and built it to ensure that their work wasn’t in vain. How happy would Mr. Boyd be to know his ‘baby’ was still standing and in operation? Ditto for all of us.

HowardBHaas on August 3, 2008 at 10:30 pm

Friends of the Boyd, Inc did print up some T shirts this year. We offered some for sale to our supporters. Considering the printing costs, we’d need sell 10 million T shirts in order to restore the Boyd! So, City & state funding and major donors, really is needed.

I’ve long wanted to place one or more image of the Boyd on a poster. I’m not aware of any movie palace that’s on a poster.

finkysteet on August 3, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Hey, how about T-shirts? How about taking a few photos from the friendsoftheboyd site, putting them on t-shirts, and selling them with proceeds going to actually saving the Boyd? Count me in – I’d buy several for sure! Some of my coworkers are equally interested in what the future holds and when I pointed them to the old website (savethesameric), it was like a trip back in time for them. And for those who may not have a computer, wouldn’t it be a nice keepsake to have a shirt honoring this ‘grand lady’ of Chestnut Street?

And what about other paraphernalia trumpeting this cause: posters, coffee mugs, baseball caps, etc.? Why not set up a table and sell these items right in front of the theater?

Don’t know if this idea will actually float, but it’s just something that popped into my head. Your thoughts?

LuisV on August 3, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Thanks Howard and Theterbuff1 for your comments. Regarding Condos on the Jersey Shore, once again, it is all about zoning and landmarks laws, of which New York is strong on both. That is why we have a relative wealth of our old palaces remaining. Yes, we cry about all of the ones that we lost (as we should): The Roxy, The Center, The Capitol, The Rivoli, The State, The Paramount, The original Ziegfeld, etc…

But we still have many with us: Radio City, The Hollywood, The Paradise, Loew’s 175th Street, The Valencia, The Brooklyn Paramount, The New Amsterdam, The Elmwood, The St. George, The Metropolitan, The Paris, The Beacon, The RKO Keiths Richmond Hill, and sitting in the middle of Brooklyn waiting for its restoration…..The Kings! In addition many of the old Broasdway theater houses remain.

New York’s theater district salvation, arguably, was started by the construction of the Marriott Marquis on the site of 3 demolished old Broadway houses. They were sacrificed to bring business back to Times Square which at the time was a cesspool of crime and filth. While it was painful to lose those theaters, I choose to look at it from the standpont that it started the ball in motion of saving Times Square and by ectension, saving the remaining Broadway houses. Eventually, it led to the 42nd Street Redvelopment Corporation and the plan to build 4 huge office towers in Times Sqaure while at the same time restoring many of the old theaters on 42nd street, but not before getting rid of all of the x rated businesses, prostituion and crime that the street was long known for.

Today, 42nd Street is home to 39 screens in two huge multiplexes, a wax museum, many restaurants, a jazz club, several “Broadway” houses, dance studios, a Childrens Theater and lots of other retail.

Many years ago, Pennsylvania Station was torn down in New York which for many people was the worst architectual crime in the history of the city – worse than the Roxy’s destruction which I believe occured a little earlier. The loss of Penn Station roused the people albeit too late to save it. But because of the outcry, it led to the Landmarks Laws that prevail in New York today. It is why New York still has Grand Central Station, The TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport, and many of the theaters that we still have today. Without landmark protection AND zoning laws, New York today would be more like Houston. (No offense meant toward Houston, but they don’t seem to have an appreciation for historic architecture and its preservtion).

Philadelphia had some of the most beutiful movie palaces in the country and lost almost all of them. They have one chance to retain a single theater – The Boyd! I mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. If there is any city that should protect, relish and promote its history, it should be Philadelphia! I am dumbfounded by the apparent indifference of not just the city govenment but the local business community and civic groups to fight for projects like the saving of The Boyd. Maybe this will be a turning point.