Golden Gate Theatre

5176 Whittier Boulevard,
East Los Angeles, CA 90022

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Showing 151 - 171 of 171 comments

William on August 16, 2004 at 7:52 am

Thanks JohnF
That’s how we find out about many of these wonderful theatres. From people who just stumble across this site. Thanks for your shared memories of this theatre.


johnf on August 15, 2004 at 10:07 pm

In 1960-61 I lived on Luis Place just a couple of blocks from the Golden Gate Theater. I was 13 at the time and I remember going to see movies there at least once a week. I have spent many a night there. This was, indeed, a truly magnificent theater! Around 1961-62 we moved to Montebello, but I still continued to frequent the Golden Gate. I now live in Santa Barbara, but just before the Whittier earthquate, (my timing may be off here) my wife and a friend of ours happened to be back in East LA and the theater was already shut down. However, the main entrace was open and we simply walked in. I wouldn’t normally do this, but it was too tempting. Once inside, we were met by some attendant who took pity on us and let us roam the theatre on our own. We went all over. the curtain to the procenium was open, leaving the screen fully exposed and I remember noticing not only how large the screen was, but how it’s size was so appropriate in relation to the dimentions of the house. It was a wonderful experience and a bit sad to see the this great movie house abandoned. My only regret was not having a camera with me!

The first movie I ever saw there was “The Rat Race,” followed by movies like “Psycho,” “Elmer Gantry,” “Birdman of Alkataraz,” a reissue of “On the Waterfront,” and “The Wild One” and so many more. Funny that I don’t recall the last film I ever saw there.
Apologies for going on and on, but stumbling on to this site compelled me to write this.

castanedapi on August 5, 2004 at 6:53 pm

It’s great to hear from others who can share the East Los Angeles, Belvedere experiance. Before our society became mall crazy there was the Boulevard, were the finest mens, womens and childrens, variety, furniture stores in the L.A. area which extended from Whittier & Ford to Atantic & Whittier Blvd.

Another bit of local history includes the former Los Angeles County East Los Angeles Sheriffs station located on Ford Blvd and Whittier Blvd. This facility had both a juvenile/adult temporary detention facility. There was a coroners office and possibly a court house. This non assuming building was last used as a church.

What predates the Golden Gate, Whittier Blvd and the Calvary Cematary is the El Camino Real which stretched from Guatemala to beyond San Francisco. I always wondered what that green colored bell hanging on that steel bell holder was as a kid.

DaveG on August 5, 2004 at 11:54 am


Yes, I remember the Pontiac Dealer. I used to walk up from where I lived at 1234 ½ S. Clela to catch the bus at Whittier and Clela. I also remember Stan’s drive-in. Just down the stree fro the Golden Gate there was a barber shop where I’d go to get a haircut, where I had my first “hot foam” trimming of the sideburns. It was next to the bowling alley. I took my first swimming lessons at the “plunge” across from St. Alphonse’s Catholic church on Atlantic. Yeah, it is an area that I fondly remember, including the Christmas decorations each year on Whittier Blvd. Do you remember El Metate restaurant on Atlantic?

We also would take the bus and streetcar to downtown and eat at Cliftons. What a magical place for a kid!

ppops70s on July 23, 2004 at 9:01 am


I really enjoyed reading your comments.

I was born in ELA in 1970, I was born at the Los Angeles Community Hospital. We lived on Eastman and Whittier Blvd. I remember my grandmother telling me about the Chicano riots, I remember the cruising on Whittier Boulevard in the 70s and 80s. I remember the stores on Whittier Blvd; Stones Furniture, Western Auto, Wenger (still exists) and so on.

I grew up going to the Boulevard and Golden Gate theatres. I heard there use to be a theatre around Fetterly and Whittier.

In regards to Downtown, my grandfather was a pachuco.

castanedapi on July 23, 2004 at 2:18 am

I was born and raised in Belvedere, East Los Angeles, in 1953 at the Santa Marta Hospital, formerly located on Humphreys Ave near Brooklyn Ave (now Cesar Chavez Blvd).

I remember going to the Golden Gate Theater to see the first James Bond movie,Gold Finger. There was something special about the Golden Gate Theater that clearly set it apart from either the Center or Boulevard Theaters.I also clearly remember Stan’s Drive Inn Restaurant, kitty corner to the Golden Gate where the waitresses would come to the window of your car to take you order, what service. The Greyhound Bus Station was just across the street on Atlantic Blvd.

Other great memories include riding the Ford & Kern Bus for just ten cents and riding the “R Car” street car that ran from downtown Los Angeles to Whittier Blvd across from the Calvary Cementary. The “P Car” traveled on First Street over the L.A. River to downtown onto Broadway & First out to Pico Blvd. When we were downtown no self respecting person would be caught wearing a tee shirt and jeans. You wouldn’t be caught dead downtown L.A. or any other large city in the U.S. without wearing your best clothes.

You couldn’t visit downtown L.A. without stopping at either Clifton’s Cafeteria, the Grand Central Market, Angel’s Flight, the L.A. City Hall(formerly one of the highest building in L.A.) as well as Olvera Street, China Town & Philippe Restaraunt for a great French dip sandwich.

Talking about old Theaters my mom and grandparents use to catch movies at the Strand Theater which was adjacent to the “R Car” street car turn around. Now sadly enough a converted garment factory.

My mom worked on Whittier Boulevard at W.T. Grants, the Kress Store as well as a fine womens clothing store called Dotty Dean’s close to the See’s Candy store. Some of the finest clothing stores could be found just down the street from the Golden Gate Theater up till the late 1960’s.

The Moon Light sales & the Christmas decorations on the Boulevard were really something special for everyone in the community. Does anyone remember the Pontiac dealership in the area of Whittier Blvd & Clela.

Yes I remember the Golden Gate and so much more

Please excuse any and all typos.


zyzzyx15 on June 13, 2004 at 10:54 pm

Paul must be referring to the Los Angeles Conservancy – the largest ‘local’ historic preservation group in the United States. A very powerful group in LA that can on many occasions make or break big development schemes based on its own endorsements or objections.

ronpolsc on June 7, 2004 at 8:09 pm

It is quiet sad to know that one of the last remaining historical
monuments in East Los Angeles is going to be used for a walgreens.
I think what should happen is like many other cities have done through community economic development is to fully restore buildings that have community value in order for the community to embrace thier community history. Im curious to know what the name of the conservancy is ? Personally I never got to experince the beauty of the theatre but the many stories shared by my family exemplify the personal value that it has on the community. If someone knows the name of the group working to restore the theatre it would be great.

ppops70s on April 28, 2004 at 9:56 am

The 1927 Golden Gate Theatre, one of Los Angeles' most significant neighborhood movie palaces, is in escrow for purchase by a private development firm. The new owner, the Charles Company, intends to remove most of the theater’s interior features to accommodate retail use, most likely a Walgreens Drug Store. The 1,454-seat theater, at the prime corner of Whittier and Atlantic Boulevards in unincorporated East Los Angeles, has sat vacant for over a decade and has been repeatedly threatened with demolition. The theater, in the Spanish Churrigueresque style, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The theater was built by developer Peter Snyder, known as the “Father of the East Side” and its architects were William and Clifford Balch, who were also involved in the design of the El Rey Theatre on Wilshire Blvd. and the Fox Theatre in Pomona. The Vega Building, the historic retail building that once wrapped around the theater, suffered damage from the Whittier Earthquake and was demolished in the early 1990s. The Conservancy will be working with the new buyer, as well as County Supervisor Gloria Molina’s office, to seek retention of the theater’s historic interior features, such as the proscenium, lobby, clamshell-shaped concession stand, and mezzanine level, while encouraging a positive reuse of this long-vacant historic property.

DaveG on April 16, 2004 at 2:09 pm

Growing up, I lived near Atlantic and Olympic and have many wonderful memories of days at the Golden Gate. What a classic, beautiful theater!! I would often just go and watch whatever was playing. I remember one afternoon when my mother gave me some money for the movies and I went there by miself and, as a 10 year-old, watched “Psycho”!! I also loved the set-up, where you would purchase the ticket at the booth at the sidewalk on Whittier Blvd., then walk down the covered courtyard, past the shops before entering the theater. On hot summer afternoons, there was no better place to be. Too bad it has not been restored. I would also love to see other photos of the place in its glory days.

Manwithnoname on March 16, 2004 at 4:30 pm

Two years after my earlier post, the theater still sits. It’s still up for sale.

William on January 9, 2004 at 11:20 am

The design of this theatre is similar to the Fox Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. Both combine a courtyard entrance with what amounts to a small shopping center. Both are Spanish Colonial Revival, but the Golden Gate Theatre is Churrigueresque in its sources. The The building turns the corner via and an eight sided tower surmounted by a lantern. The entrance to the theatre was one of the finest examples of the Churrigueresque to be found in Southern California. The Golden Gate Theatre seated 1345 people.

GaryLee64 on January 1, 2004 at 8:18 am

I lived In East LA and my families business was there. In the last 40’s 50’s and early 60’s I lived in that theatre. I worked there and I loved it. It had beautiful lighting. The consession bar was a hugh clam shell. The first film I ever saw there was “So Dear To My Heart” and the last was “A Raisen in the Sun” In front of the theater in the courtyard was a wonderful drug store and apartments on top. My friends lived there. The Center was down the street along with the United Artist and Boulevard but the Golden Gate was the one we wanted to go to. I went back recently to see it. Just the theatre was there and not the Courtyard. It was sad but it brought back wonderful memories.

William on October 20, 2003 at 6:43 pm

The address of the Golden Gate Theatre was 5176 Whittier Blvd.

William on October 20, 2003 at 6:41 pm

When the Golden Gate Theatre opened it had a Wurlitzer Theatre organ (opus#1873)style 210, in was installed on 4/26/1928.

JustOldBob on October 22, 2002 at 1:32 pm

I was just looking at another theatre I frequented before finding the Golden Gate. That theatre is the Fox Florence Theatre on Florence Avenue just east of Hooper Avenue. While reading the description it hit me how much the Fox Florence and the Golden Gate had in common. The front, then the courtyard, balcony, etc. I wonder if it was the same ARCHITECT, or at least using the same design. The Fox Florence Architect was S. Charles Lee, according to the description. Those of you who actually went to the Golden Gate and or Fox Florence, go to their listings and compare that with your memories. I think they were VERY much alike.

JustOldBob on September 14, 2002 at 5:08 pm

As the others know, but others may not, this theatre was located on the south/west corner of Atlantic Avenue and Whittier Boulevard. To the right of the marque is an opening, and inside of that was a very nice foyer, when I went there, there was a red carpet on each side of the foyer, and running north/south, under canopies. Truly a very nice theatre.

eliperales on May 31, 2002 at 12:05 am

The person who had the Golden Gate built was Harry M. Sugarman.It was built approx in 1925-26. Mr.Sugarman was an actor in Hollywood in the early twenties.He owned a chain of movie theaters under the name West Coast Junior Theatres. He also attended Los Angeles High School in 1916. It’s sad to see its present condition. As a kid in the early 70’s the Golden Gate was my movie theatre.It was beautiful inside and out and it had a wonderful balcony.

Manwithnoname on March 1, 2002 at 5:54 am

There is a for sale sign on the property. Looks like mega bucks would be needed to make this a usable venue again.

William on February 20, 2002 at 12:46 pm

This theatre maybe returning as a Performing Arts Center Theatre. More news to follow soon.

Manwithnoname on February 20, 2002 at 5:24 am

The area between the main theater building and the street was recently paved and turned into a parking lot. It is a Christmas tree lot every year. Yet, the main theater building still stands, boarded up. Does this have protected status?