Boyd Theatre

1908-18 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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bruceanthony on November 13, 2007 at 10:45 am

The City of Pittsburg has restored three of there Downtown movie palaces the Stanley,Penn and Fulton all under other names now. Live Nation meant well but they decided to get out of owning theatres and concentrate on them music business which was bad timing for the Boyd. The city of Philidelphia should realize the potential of the Boyd since Live Nation wanted to present Broadway shows like they did with the Opera House in Boston. The Boyd is the perfect size theatre for Broadway road productions, not to small and not to big. The City should take it from Live Nation if they can’t find a suitable buyer at this time and hold it in trust until a suitable buyer can be found. The Nederlanders and the Shuberts both own theatres that are a little to small for touring shows that are presented for a few weeks. Theatres on the road need to seat at least 2000 to mazimize the gross on the large touring musicals such as “The Lion King”,“Wicked”, “Phantom Of the Opera” snd many others. The Nederlanders just bought out Live Nation’s intersts in Broadway in Chicago and maybe could be interested in the Boyd as there primary house for touring Brodway shows. In San Francisco the Curran for decades was the primary house for Broadway shows until economics forced them to make the larger Orpheum and the ugly Golden Gate the primary Broadway Theatres. The smaller Curran is now used for plays and long run of musicals such as “Jersey Boys”. Philadelphia is not a market for long runs like Chicago,Los Angeles,Boston and San Francisco. Maybe the Shuberts and the Nederlaners should get together and form a Broadway in Philadelphia and use both there theatres along with the larger Boyd.brucec

TheaterBuff1 on October 22, 2007 at 11:18 pm

And the number one way to do that is to bring it to the attention of the best possible buyer with its continuing to be up for sale. In the right hands, the potential of this movie palace is tremendous and easily worth whatever the asking price happens to be. It is at a choice location to serve as a prominent east coast destination theater with its convenient closeness to Philadelphia’s Amtrak Station, not to mention its being near to the University of Pennsylvania. And there’s no question it is totally ripe for partaking in Center City Philadelphia’s invigorating renaissance which is now fast oversweeping that part of downtown Philadelphia where the Boyd Theatre stands. A beautifully restored Boyd Theatre is the one thing glaringly missing from that renaissance right now.

LuisV on October 22, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Virtually every American City has managed to keep and restore at least one of their movie palaces. It would be an utter disaster if Philadelphia, one of our greatest cities and whose downtown is enjoying a renaissance, was unable to restore and reopen the Boyd. Theaters like these will NEVER be built again. It is important to future generations that they have a place to connect to how people went to the movies in the past and how the experience was so very different to the movie going experience today.

I live in New York where we are always lamenting the loss of theaters, the latest being the “Playpen” (not the original name, but its latest incarnation). The reality though is that New York still has Radio City, The Hollywood, The Paradise, The 175th Street, The Valenica, The St. George, The Beacon, The Ziegfeld and still others that have the potential to be restored to their former glories, chief among them the Kings and The Brooklyn Paramount. Compared to Philadelphia, this is an embarassment of riches. Nonetheless, it is still painful to lose even one theater because they will never be built like these again.

If this is Philadelphia’s last palace remaining it is important that everyone who loves Philadelphia and believes in its future work hard to save The Boyd! I wish you luck!

HowardBHaas on October 22, 2007 at 11:09 am

Today’s Weekly Update of Friends of the Boyd:


Built in 1928, the Boyd Theatre is the last surviving motion picture palace of downtown Philadelphia. Acclaimed as an Art Deco masterpiece, the Boyd was an early example in the US of a movie palace in the Art Deco style. The Boyd was designed by Hoffman-Henon, architects who designed many of the other movie palaces. The theater’s exterior included a towering vertical sign that advertised the theater a mile away, a public retail arcade and a huge etched glass window with Art Deco motifs. View link

The Boyd has one of Philadelphia’s grandest Art Deco lobbies View link

plus foyers and lounges with dazzling colorful mirrors, marble fountains, and elaborate plasterwork View link

and a 2450 seat auditorium with perfect sightlines View link

The theme of the Boyd is the triumph of the modern woman, seen in the Proscenium Mural by acclaimed artist Alfred Tulk and by artistic figures of women from around the world including the modern American.

Movie palaces including the Boyd were places where the ordinary man could enjoy entertainment in a regal environment. On opening in 1928, for a mere 35 cents, an ordinary Joe could enjoy Walt Disney’s debut of Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie and Interference, Paramount’s 1st talking picture.

Equipped for the change in movies from silents to talkies, the Boyd drew patrons from throughout the Philadelphia area for films such as “Gone with The Wind,”epic 70mm films such as “Ben Hur” and “Doctor Zhivago,”and blockbuster movies like “Star Wars.” Customers traveled from a hundred miles away as the Boyd was the only local theater equipped mid-century to show Cinerama films. Hollywood style premieres were public spectacles, including the 1993 World Premiere of “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington appearing.

Too many movie palaces nationwide have been demolished, but almost every US city has restored and reopened at least one movie palace to serve as a showplace of entertainment and so future generations will know how movies were experienced in the 20th Century.

Help us find more people who can join our cause at

Howard B. Haas

TheaterBuff1 on October 1, 2007 at 11:48 pm

The Boyd Theatre in its ongoing closed-down state, along with many other once-great things that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania once showcased, is reflective of Philadelphia’s current extremely screwed up reward structure. It’s a reward system that elevates the city’s most worthless, unimaginative, uncreative, and untalented elements to the highest level of social stratification, while treating anyone who’s the total opposite — what few if any are still left — as if they are “worthless pieces of trash.” It’s why we no longer see great people coming out of Philadelphia anymore the way we used to, and why we haven’t for many many many years now. As for the reward structure itself, why it functions the way it does is very understandable. For not a single penny used in it is legitimate. A great deal of it is simply laundered money — the proceeds of illegal arms dealing (Philadelphia still ranks number one in this), illegal drug trafficking, fraudulently bilking the taxpayers in the rest of the state and the U.S. for constant bailouts of Septa (our public transit system), etc., medical malpractice and fraud, human trafficking, routine auto theft and, indeed, just about every other vice you can think of. And it is doesn’t help that Pennsylvania’s current governor, formerly the mayor of Philadelphia, can far more be likened to a dictator than a legitimate political leader. There’s absolutely no such thing as democracy when it comes to Pennsylvania’s current Governor Ed Rendell.

And right now with his leading the charge, Philadelphia is about to explode into a gambling mecca with its citizens — whether they be good or bad — having absolutely no say over it.

So against all that backdrop it would indeed require a miracle to bring the Boyd Theatre up to what it’s supposed to be. Short of an all-out revolution, war or purely an act of God there’s no way that I could see it. But with those things taking place I could see the Boyd Theatre being very instrumental in helping turn this city around for the better. Right now, however, it’s “Welcome to Myanmar”…

HowardBHaas on October 1, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Dreams are great. Reality is that nowhere in the USA is there a movie palace that was built to seat more than two thousand people and still open for daily movies ! There are many movie palaces hosting live performances and some have a film series. Clear Channel believed, and Friends of the Boyd agree, that the Boyd is a viable theater. New owner Live Nation is changing its focus on Rock N'Roll rather than Touring Broadway Musicals, so the Boyd project is stalled.

Advocacy as a daily movie palace, with one screen, would be useless. Bloggers kept suggesting such for New York City’s DeMille, /theaters/501/ and that space is being gutted! There just aren’t enough fans who would keep any theater built this big in the black, not in New York City, and not in Philadelphia.

Friends of the Boyd follow the path that has saved countless former movie palaces nationwide, which is mixed use. Live events will pay the bills and bring many people to the Boyd to enjoy first class entertainment there. A film series of classics, festivals, and premieres, will enable people to also experience the Boyd for film. Restored to its original Art Deco glamour, the Boyd will once again be a showplace and entertain future generations.

dennisczimmerman on September 29, 2007 at 1:54 pm

To add to “My Dream” by Fever Dog on Sept. 9th – I would reopen the Boyd Theatre with the Cinerama screen used in the 60’s,70’s. The ushers and usherettes would wear the style of uniforms back then – red blazers, white shirts, and gray slacks/skirts. I would show only the Cinerama and 70mm epics of days past – “HTWWW”, “2001”, “Lawrence”, “Indy Series”, “Ben Hur”, “MFL”, “SOM”, etc, etc. There was something lacking when the Boyd became the Sameric and that large curved screen was replaced with a still large flat screen. And movie presentations of today are totally lacking the magic and charm of the movie palaces of yesterday. You were transported even before the movie started. As I have mentioned on this thread many times, growing up we drove regulary the 60 miles to see the big screen epics at the Boyd. And I think people would do it again. Give the true movie lover/goer a reason to skip the shoe box megaplexes of today, and they will in a heartbeat.

HowardBHaas on September 29, 2007 at 12:47 pm

That beautiful photo is from Opening Day 1928 and belongs to the Irvin R. Glazer Collection of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia. It shows the original Art Deco vertical sign, marquee, and ticket booth.

kencmcintyre on September 29, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Here is an undated photo of the Boyd:

JohnMLauter on September 29, 2007 at 7:27 am

re: the list above in Howard B. Haas' post—I would add the Masonic auditorium to the Detroit list, it seats nearly 5,000 (although not well, it was designed for Masonic assembly, not theater) and has recently been restored. Masonic has been in constant use since it opened in 1926.
I would not count the Indiana theatre in Indianapolis as a large venue, as the amateur theater group that owns it decimated the interior to make two small black-box venues, not so much a big place now.

HowardBHaas on September 24, 2007 at 8:14 am

Here’s today’s Weekly Update:(1) After last week’s update, we were asked why the Boyd owner ceased renovation. The Boyd and other theaters nationwide are for sale because the new company Live Nation chose to focus on Rock n'Roll rather than the mix of entertainment uses that Clear Channel intended for the Boyd when they purchased it. Friends of the Boyd have asked Live Nation to sell the Boyd to another company that wishes to program it broadly. We will help obtain sufficient funding for the renovation.

(2) Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the $1.3 billion dollar impact, and 40,000 jobs that arts and culture has on the Philadelphia area. View link
Arts and culture will have an even bigger impact on Philadelphia when the BOYD reopens as a major showplace theater! We have told you that the Econsult report summarized here shows that a reopened Boyd Theatre would generate $120 million a year including related expenditures, and when including those related expenses, a total of 520 jobs.

As the Inquirer states, the arts do not receive enough public funding in Philadelphia. The Boyd will not need annual support as the shows will run in the black, but may need onetime public support to assist with the physical rehabilitation so it can reopen. Most movie palaces nationwide received funding from cities and states, for restoration and updating, so they could again serve their communities.

(3) This Weekly Update has frequently mentioned the Philadelphia region’s historic cinemas, most of which now show arthouse films. Since the Boyd then named the Sameric closed in 2002, Philadelphia residents see mainstream movies in multiplexes. encourages moviegoers to comment on those theaters, and record the history of those theaters. Philadelphia multiplexes showing mainstream movies include the BRIDGE /theaters/10911/ the PEARL /theaters/17993/ and the RIVERVIEW /theaters/20973/ also profiles historic movie palaces. All the movie palaces featured in downtown Philadelphia are history, except one -the Boyd. We must not allow the Boyd to be enjoyed only on cyberspace! The Boyd must be restored and reopened. Thanks to Patrick Crawley and Ross Melnick for inventing cinematreasures in 2000, as volunteers, and thanks to them and to YOU for your continued support of the Boyd.

Howard B. Haas

TheaterBuff1 on September 19, 2007 at 8:40 pm

Not intentionally seeking to drop yet another bombshell here, but if I understand the Boyd story correctly — and please correct me if I’m wrong Howard or anyone else — but when Live Nation first took charge of the Boyd Theatre building with plans to restore and reopen it as a theater, it was still an operational theater at that point. That is, it still was equipped with functional projectors and so forth that could’ve been reactivated once more. But with new plans that Live Nation had in mind regarding its restoration, so much of what made it operational when it first took it over was removed, with implied promises that all new equipment and whatever else necessary would be introduced. But then Live Nation (or Clear Channel or whoever) decided not to follow through with what they originally planned, and its original intentions were fully scrapped. Meaning that it is now seeking to sell off this theater building in its incapacited state in relation to what it was when it first acquired it.

Now my take on this is, had Live Nation followed through with its original plan, no one could fairly complain that the original operational facilities had been removed, given how such facilities would be replaced anew. But Live Nation DIDN’T do that, meaning that in many ways the theater building — so far as its theatrical potential — is now greatly devalued from what it had been when they first acquired it. If what I’ve said is true, it seems only fair that Live Nation should in some way compensate the city of Philadelphia for having greatly devalued one of this city’s very historic properties. At the very least, before selling it, they should bring it back up to the operational level it was when they first acquired it. Otherwise, something is terribly, terribly amiss here.

HowardBHaas on September 19, 2007 at 10:33 am

Here’s today Weekly Update sent out to our supporters. We urge all interested parties to directly visit our website and enter yourselves to receive updates, and look at the other ways to help.

The most frequent recent question asked of us, of people who are quite upset “Is the Boyd being turned into a store?” NO, the former three small auditoriums next door are being turned into a retail store, a Gap Outlet. People then followup with “Wasn’t that space part of the theater?” Yes, but that space was a modern addition. The historic Boyd Theatre is not being turned into a retail store.

Recently, the national head of an organization concerned with theaters commented that given the current situation- of the Boyd being for sale-it is too bad that there’s still a demolition permit issued. Fortunately, that’s wrong, too. Years ago, the City refused to renew the demolition permit, explaining that demolition permits are not tools for developers or mechanisms to increase property values. Just as we would with an application to turn the historic theater into a store, Friends of the Boyd would vigorously fight the issuance of a demolition permit. Even if it was issued, we would litigate and publicly protest and make a huge fuss, as we did previously.

Downtown Philadelphia’s last surviving movie palace is important, as you appreciate, and needs to be restored, and reopened. We continue to ask Live Nation to ensure that when the company sells the Boyd, they sell it to a new owner who wants to reopen it, and we will help. Thank you for your support.

Howard B. Haas

TheaterBuff1 on September 9, 2007 at 9:19 pm

So long as a good person doesn’t actually try to do anything meaningful and worthwhile here, I find Philadelphia to be a great incubator of dreams, to at least give some credit where it’s due. I have learned so many good things that can be done — elsewhere — as an observer of Philadelphia’s mistakes, my compiling a long list of the in-between “what ifs?” if not for Philadelphia’s highly corrupt political machine. One noteworthy thing, how Philadelphia could’ve swiftly become an outfront leader in the digital cinema revolution now starting to take hold in other parts of the world and which rapidly could’ve taken hold here if not for that political machine. But doing exciting things, and keeping those who don’t deserve to be on top, don’t mix. Simply put, you can’t have it both ways. Either one or the other has to be relegated to the world of dreams. And right now in Philadelphia’s case all the good that can be said of this city is relegated to the world of dreams — as is to realistically be expected.

FeverDog on September 9, 2007 at 12:42 am

My dream is to reopen this theater with no concern about turning a profit. I’d install a 70mm projector for special screenings of Lawrence of Arabia and 2001, while also showing funky midnight shows of whatever I pleased (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls would be awesome!). I would make the three extra smaller theatres into two, with top-of-the-line sound systems.

Ushers would keep a constant eye on patron’s behavior. Cell phone reception would be blocked. There’d be no commercials before screenings. Projection and sound would be flawless for every showing. And, I’d allow smoking in the balcony if it wasn’t banned in Philly.

All I do is dream…dream dream dream…

HowardBHaas on July 4, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Many thanks to Brucec for his above comment and 8-6-04 list of movie palaces saved in downtowns of cities all over the US, posted at the Mayfair (Embassy 2-3-4) page: /theaters/501/ With very slight adjustments to theater names, I employed his list in this past Monday’s Weekly Update email to our supporters (

Here’s the Weekly Update:

Below is a list of restored LARGE movie palaces in US CITIES' DOWNTOWN “entertainment zones” that a movie palace enthusiast drew up in August 2004 at The list may not have been complete then (and more movie palaces have since been restored), but it does show that many cities across the USA have saved, restored, and reopened their glorious historic movie palaces for entertainment!

The list was drafted to advocate reuse of a closed Times Square movie palace. The list drafter opined that Radio City Music Hall was outside New York City’s entertainment zone of Times Square. In addition to Radio City, reopened Midtown Manhattan movie palaces include the Hollywood (church) and New Amsterdam. Please realize there are MANY MORE restored movie palaces in the US: in neigbhorhoods, towns, suburbs, etc. in addition to those movie palaces listed below in cities' downtowns.

Defined as the traditional locale of movie palaces and other theaters, Philadelphia’s “entertainment zone” would include Chestnut West. The BOYD THEATRE should join the list!

Howard B. Haas

Seattle: Paramount and Fifth Ave
Portland: Arlene Schnitzer (Paramount)
San Francisco: Orpheum, Warfield and Golden Gate
Oakland: Paramount and Fox Oakland (restoration in progress)
San Jose: California (opens in Sept)
Hollywood: Chinese, El Capitan, Pantages, Egyptian (not fully restored)
Los Angeles: Orpheum, United Artists (church) and many unrestored
San Diego: Fox (Copley), Balboa and Spreckels
Phoenix: Orpheum
Dallas: Majestic
San Antonio: Majestic and Aztec (under restoration}
Denver: Paramount
St. Louis: Fox and Powell (St.Louis)
Kansas City: Midland
Minneapolis: Orpheum, State and Pantages
Chicago: Chicago, Oriental and Palace
Detroit: Fox, State and Opera House (Capitol)
Cleveland: Palace, State, Allen and Ohio
Columbus: Ohio, Palace and Southern
Indianapolis: Indiana and Circle
Buffalo: Shea’s Buffalo
Pittsburgh: Heinz Hall (Loew’s Penn), Benedum (Stanley) and Byham (Gayety)
Baltimore: Hippodrome
Providence: Ocean State (Providence)
Boston: Wang (Metropolitan), Majestic (Saxon), and Opera House (BF Keith)
Washington DC: Warner
Richmond: Carpenter (Loew’s)
New Orleans: Saenger and (unrestored) Loew’s State
Jacksonville: Florida
Tampa: Tampa
Miami: Gusman (Olympia)
Birmingham: Alabama
Omaha: Orpheum and Rose (Paramount)
Albany: Palace
Syracuse: Landmark (Loew’s State)
Salt Lake: Capitol
Louisville: Palace
Memphis: Orpheum
Jersey City: Loew’s Jersey and Stanley (church)
Albuquerque: Kimo

Tucson: Fox and Rialto

TheaterBuff1 on May 29, 2007 at 5:34 pm

One thing that Philly lacks right now that those other city’s you mention have is checks and balances. For instance, with a mayoral race going on here, the city’s most likely next mayor, Michael Nutter, wants to give Philadelphia police the power of stop and frisk. The introduction of martial law, in other words. The mayor of Baltimore wanted to bring the same to Baltimore, but there the Baltimore Sun was quick to state the truth that it would be the same as when Fascism was on the rise in Europe. Checks and balances, i.e.

And the reason for the big difference between Philadelphia and those other cities you mention, brucec, is because those other cities have not been written off the way Philly has. Unlike Philadelphia they are still vital to the U.S. over all. And they are vital because they still have some sort of checks and balances in place.

And to restore a movie palace and make that restoration stick, you have to have checks and balances firmly in place. But sadly, the way Philadelphia is right now, I would compare trying to restore a movie palace here at this point in time to the prospect of trying to do so in Germany at the height of the Nazi Third Reich. For there’s a breakdown of law going on here, a breakdown in a truthful press and so on — as in “Sound familiar?” when referring back to the WWII era?

bruceanthony on May 29, 2007 at 9:08 am

If the Boyd isn’t saved it will be the largest city in the United States not to have saved a Downtown Movie Palace since the Boyd is the last one. The size of the theatre is perfect for touring Broadway shows which prefers theatres seatting at least 2000. The Boyd could be used for many types of live performances as well as classic films. The City should make every effort to save this last movie palace as they have let all the others to be torn down. Pittsburg has restored three downtown movie palaces the Stanley,Penn and Fulton. Baltimore recently restored the Hippodrome and is bringing the Town theatre back to life. Even NYC with its real estate values has saved Radio City,New Amsterdam,Broadway,Globe,Hollywood as well the Loew’s Wonder Theatres out of the theatre district. Live Nation is no longer involved due to its desire to only focus on live presentation and not own theatres.Live Nation saw the value in the Boyd as they did with the Opera House (B F Keith) in Boston or they wouldn’t have bothered. Chicago and Boston have both realized the value of their historic theatres and have made huge efforts in restoring there theatre districts. These historic movie palaces are part of the fabric that made our downtown and theatre districts great in this country. The decline of downtown preceeded the decline of the movie palace after WW11. The restoration of these historic movie palaces helped bring many downtown’s back to life after decades of decline. The Greatest Generation has many fond memories of these historic movie palaces, it helped them get through the depression and WW11.Most of the newer theatres that have been built have no personality and thus have no effection as the great movie palaces from the 1920’s when most of them were built. I hope Philidelphia realizes what it has as does not destroy its last historic movie palace in its Center City.brucec

TheaterBuff1 on February 21, 2007 at 10:06 pm

Just to clear up the misunderstanding if you’re referring to any of my posts here and elsewhere, I never said that the Boyd Theatre should become a movie palace again exclusively, ONLY that I see that as its highest calling. My only objections to alternative uses of it are alternative uses that would block that goal from being reached. And some — somehow — interpreted that as meaning I’m against any sort of live performances there.

But for the record, as long as its highest calling aspect is kept perfectly intact, I am not opposed to live performances being presented there in the least. Quite the contrary I think that goal is great. I do, however, warn of the tremendous competition it would face in that regard. For Philadelphia is no stranger to live performance outlets at this point in time. Meaning, I would hate to see it rule out its highest calling aspect completely and then not be able to compete as much as it would need to to stand strong.

It might also help if you understand that my perspective is that of one who lives up in Northeast Philadelphia which at this moment has a very bad relationship with the rest of the city — while it’s completely under the command of Center City at the same time. That is, a Center City that knows nothing about it at this point yet retains full control over it as a matter of rote nevertheless, compliments of something called the 1854 Consolidation, which probably made a lot of sense in 1854. But makes no sense at all today.

And when the relationship between Northeast Philadelphia and Center City was much better than it is today, the Boyd Theatre when it was a major east coast movie palace was a most memorable highpoint of that relationship.

And there was a period back then when the sidewalks of Center City did not role up at 7:00 P.M. as you say. Northeast Philadelphia’s sidewalks at that time did, yes. But Center City at that time was a major world port o' call. You went downtown in the evenings and everything was happening there, whether it was a premiere at the Boyd with searchlights swirling in the air or what have you. It was the flourishing downtown at night, that’s what I remember, and what I think of when I think of the Boyd at its height.

And then another era arrived which was as you say. The era of the very dark and nothing happening downtown Philadelphia at night. And right now everything is being measured against that particular era with the other being long forgotten. Or that is to say we’re not supposed to remember the other era prior to that one you describe. But I do. And it was great. And Northeast Philadelphia was a very instrumental part of it.

alps on February 20, 2007 at 3:20 pm

I believe Philadelphia is a great city. I cannot trash it because of the Boyd situation. How many cinema treasures exist in New York? This is unfortunate sign of the times. Philadelphia is a first class resturant town. Look at the Parkway, Rittenhouse Sq.,the great museums, the Tut exhibit, the Free Library, I could go on and on. I lived most of my life in Phila., I live in New Jersey now. But, I could remember a time when the sidewalks would roll up at 7:00, now life and enjoyment florish til the wee hours. The problem is politics, and big city law firms. The Boyd is a key to 19th and Chestnut street revival, and it can’t stay in the position that it is in, do something or get off the pot! I refuse to see a play at the academy of music, when people get tired of paying good money to see a play with an obtructed view, the Boyd can fill that void. But, I know it will never be a full time movie theater again, that is not possible, inspite of all the arguments on this site about it. I would love to see a 70mm Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen.

TheaterBuff1 on February 19, 2007 at 9:41 pm

The Boyd went from being a destination theater, which is what it was when at its height, to a convenience theater, which is what it was reduced to in its last phases. When it was at its height people traveled long distances to come to it. It was in the heart of the great city and in many ways it was the heart of the great city. It pumped the life’s blood into everything all around it, into the whole entire city really. Sure, there was the Art Museum, Wannamakers, and other major Center City Philadelphia attractions as well. Not to mention other Center City movie palaces at the time. But something about the Boyd, just the name itself if nothing else, pulsated power.

And then, as with so much else, the wrong people got ahold of it. And great thrones just in themselves do not make for great kings. In any event, the wrong people got ahold of it and people stopped flocking to it far and wide accordingly.

I don’t know if Philadelphia at this point can ever be the great city again. For great cities require great people. And you won’t find much of that in Philadelphia now. So how could the Boyd itself ever be great again therefore? There’s some people in Philadelphia now who think of themselves as “great” due to the great thrones they sit in. Or once great thrones I should say, the Boyd being one. The Art Museum being another. Wannamakers being a third.

Philadelphia could be a great city again — IF great people were to come back to it. But short of that? No, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for anything special to happen with the Boyd. For I don’t see any great people coming back to this city. Not a one. And thrones just in themselves are empty thrones is all. Vacant and collecting dust.

alps on February 18, 2007 at 5:07 pm

It has been nearly 40 years ago since the first time I went to the Boyd to see The Bible in the Begining. On a class trip, we sat in the balcony, I believe there was avery large cinerama screen. You were not allowed to bring drinks into the theater in those days. Three years later on another class trip, we saw Goodbye Mr. Chips, with Peter O'Toole. Sad that Boyd closed as a porn theater, with a screen of that size, the rain coated viewer was in the position of the proverbal “fly on the wall”. From 1972 until 2001, I attended the SamEric or the “Sammy”, as my friend and I used to call it. My last worst memory was in 1983, Scarface with Pacino, the screening I went to was greeted with gunshots and a riot. The theater went downhill from there. When United Artists bought it, armed robberies at the box office and over zelious security greeted patrons. Apartment buildings nearby, such as the William Penn House wanted it closed. This is why we may never see another movie theater in Center City. My plea to the powers that be, is to FINISH the work on this theater!!!!!!

TheaterBuff1 on February 17, 2007 at 7:12 pm

The thought crossed my mind today as I was reflecting on how the Boyd Theatre once had been that it was a “power theater,” emphasis on the word “power.” When it had been at its height of glory, along with the city of Philadelphia itself, a movie had to be mighty special if it was shown at the Boyd, a true sign that the movie in question had made the grade. But I don’t think there’s a living soul in Philadelphia today that could even begin to grasp that which I’m saying now. So you do wonder what you’re supposed to do with such memories. It’s like remembering how great Kennedy once was or something as you look at who America’s stuck with today and the choices it’s being given for come tomorrow. Great memories. But what are you supposed to do with them? For that was then. The once powerful theater in the great roaring city…now never to roar again (or so it seems.)

But for whatever it’s worth I’m glad I got to see experience the Boyd when it was the great powerful theater in the great powerful city, and would feel a much poorer man without such memories. So in that sense I guess those memories are worth something. Such memories help you retain a sense of which way is up despite all that’s being bullhorned now.

IrishMike48 on February 17, 2007 at 4:43 am

I am having a great time reading the above comments regarding Philadelphia’s old Boyd Theater. The only movie I saw at The Boyd was DOCTOR ZHIVAGO in March of 1966. I was 17 at the time and lived in nearby Moorestown, NJ. If I remember correctly, the theater’s interior was an all red motif: walls, floor and the huge curtain that covered an enormous wide, curved screen. Watching DOCTOR ZHIVAGO at The Boyd was an unforgettable visual and aural experience. Those who tend to dismiss ZHIVAGO as a bland, expensive soap opera have no idea how visually overpowering that movie was in its 70mm presentation at The Boyd. Director David Lean was by that time (from the late 50’s on starting with THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI) making spectacular, lengthy film epics and ZHIVAGO was a directorial masterpiece. I’ll never forget watching the early sequence when the young Yuri witnesses his mother’s burial. The stunning, brooding cinematography enveloped the movie audience, as did the sound: the men hammering the casket closed, the casket slowly lowered into the earth, clumps of dirt hitting the coffin and one chilling shot of the young boy’s mother’s corpse lying interred in her final resting place: it sent chills down the spine. The epic train ride to The Urals was another mesmerizing sequence among many others.

I went back to The Boyd several times to see ZHIVAGO. Subsequent viewings of the film during its non-roadshow, nation wide release were fine but couldn’t compare to the 70mm presentation at The Boyd.

Moviegoing just isn’t the same anymore. Mall cinemas have no personality whatsoever and audience behavior now is beyond rude in many cases. Event movies such as GONE WITH THE WIND, BEN-HUR, ZHIVAGO seem to be things of the past, although great movies are still being made. (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, the two recent Clint Eastwood war films, VOLVER, LITTLE CHILDREN and PAN’S LABRYINTH are cases in point). I’m lucky enough and old enough to remember when moviegoing was fun and often a great experience. And The Boyd Theater and that first viewing of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO will always be a fond memory for me.