Boyd Theatre

1908-18 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Unfavorite 39 people favorited this theater

Showing 201 - 225 of 491 comments

henryhirsch on May 20, 2008 at 7:49 pm

What is the hard cost.First purchase price.second,full restoration back to 1928 third,running costs,upkeep,hvac,heat,etc.Anyone have a present day picture of the theater,exterior and interior.Did the rally make any headway?4hope

TheaterBuff1 on May 19, 2008 at 11:24 pm

DennisZ, if the laws on the books were upheld as they’re meant to be upheld, not only could the Boyd be brought back to life in no time, but it would’ve never shut down in the first place. And that’s the big problem in much of Philadelphia right now. A long list of laws are not being enforced as they’re meant to be.

While admittedly some laws are very tricky to understand (you should see how the city worded two Charter change questions on the recent Primary ballot, for example), others are in plain English, they could not possibly be clearer. They do not require any special Supreme Court interpretation or what have you. But if you’re living in a city where all local elections now appear to be fully rigged, where the total basis for Philadelphia’s entire economy is totally questionable, where facts gets reduced to “mere opinions” when any fact contradicts what the powers-that-be want to believe and impose, laws that are perfectly clear do not seem to mean very much, if anything at all.

To run the Boyd the right way, it should not have to call for any special political connections and illegal payoffs to this or that shady entity so long as there’s an assured market for it and it plans to operate in accordance with actual laws. But if anybody tries to go in that direction in Philadelphia at the present time they can expect to be told — or ordered, I should say — “That’s not the way we do things around here.” We have something here in Philadelphia at the present time called “councilmanic prerogative,” which states that no city councilperson can go against another when matters are voted on collectively by Philadelphia’s City Council. This “rule” is not in the city’s Charter anywhere, it has no U.S. Constitutional or State Constitutional support, it’s not even a law at all. But as such, it’s being allowed to override all existing laws, from the U.S. Constitution on down to Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter. And it’s not a “rule” that the people of Philadelphia have a right to vote to abolish. Besides, even if they did, with the way that the Philadelphia elections are clearly rigged, it wouldn’t do any good anyhow. In case you don’t know, we’re using the Diebold electronic voting machines here. Banned in many states because they’ve not been developed to the point of being tamper free, in Philadelphia they are just par for the course. Add to this that if anyone sidesteps them by voting by absentee or provisional ballot, paper ballots such as that get “handled” by the incumbent politicians who are running in the elections. And if these paper ballots are “filled out incorrectly” they tend to “mysteriously disappear” right before it’s time for them to be handed over.

Is this to say that under present conditions there’s no way the Boyd can be brought back up to what it’s meant to be? No. It can be. But the present conditions are such that it cannot be done just in the framework of existing laws. It shouldn’t have to be that way. There’s absolutely no good reason why it’s that way. But it does speak to the way Philadelphia is right now.

The Boyd was at its best back when this was a legitimate city, that is, one with a legitimate economy, rather than a money laundering front, or whatever it is now. We have huge highrises in Center City at the present time and more going up with condo units starting at $1.5 million. And of those who can afford this, it’s one of those situations where nobody knows — and nobody’s telling — where the kind of money that can afford those types of prices is coming from. Rather, the outlook is one of, “There’s no need for us to know.” That said, I still hope the best for this coming Thursday’s Save the Boyd rally. But beyond that, and even if it does result in the Boyd getting saved, this city has a lot of work that needs to be done beyond just that. And I see absolutely no signs right now that that work is getting done.

dennisczimmerman on May 19, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Theatre Buff1 – Don’t think Philadelphia is the only area subject to all these changes. The farmlands of Lancaster County are disappearing faster with each “blooming” shopping center or housing development built. I drive 7 miles to work and it takes me usually 30 to 35 minutes each way!!! Downtown Lancaster was destroyed years ago in the name of urban redevelopment. Four movie palaces, innumberable businesses, a hotel, and other things were demolished. Now they want to demolish what was built in its place and bring back a part of what was there. Developers from Montgomery, Delaware and Chester Counties seem to have set their sights on Lancaster County as the next area to bastardize. It will soon be to the point one area will look the same as another. Wal-Marts, K-Marts, Lowe’s, Target etal will abound and you will not think you left home. I still say, if you could find out how the box office of a movie in Imax compares to a “regular” shoebox theatre box office. To me I look at Imax as the new version of 70mm6 Track Stereo sound from the 60’s-80’s. However, it will still never replace the movie palaces and those traveler curtains opening on that large 70mm screen. At least it offers you more than the “postage stamp” size screens in most of the megaplexes. They advertise wall to wall screens, but a theatre with 150-250 seats, the walls are not exactly that far apart!
If I had a vast amount of money, I would restore the Boyd or any theatre I could purchase. Even if I was the only one patronizing it. However, I keep thinking about the movie “Field of Dreams.” “Build It and They will come.” Restore it and they will come as well.

TheaterBuff1 on May 18, 2008 at 10:18 pm

DennisZ, the glory days of the Boyd that you’re fondly remembering, and that I got a fleeting taste of in my earliest childhood years before everything was quickly changed, can only be superficially replicated in today’s economy at best because of the following reason. When the Boyd was at its height, and by that I mean very much on solid ground when it was, Philadelphia was where everything of a non-rural nature was concentrated. Though by the late 1950s there were the first phases of suburbia surrounding the city, there were not things as of yet such as super malls, megaplexes and suburban sprawl in general. There were small town movie theaters, and where I lived, Northeast Philadelphia, small neighborhood movie theaters, which served their purpose well if you just wanted to see a regular movie. But if you really wanted to see an epic in the right way, there was really only one place to go at that time, Center City Philadelphia. And when I say that I’m talking about the whole Delaware Valley region stretching from the Jersey Shore to small Pennsylvania towns as faraway as Lancaster. Downtown Philadelphia (in those days we called it “Downtown,” never “Center City”) was where ALL the big, most dynamic stuff was, whether it was Downtown Philadelphia’s movie palaces, or its department store palaces such as Wanamaker’s, Gimbel’s and Lit Brothers. But after the introduction of the interstate highway system by Dwight Eisenhower (and what a huuuuge blunder that was), and the demise of the railroads (another huuuuge mistake), and the wholesale displacement of the Delaware Valley’s abundance of farmland — said to have been some of the best in the world — with runaway development, everything just leveled off as a result of that, and this leveling off process is continuing to this day. If this economic pattern could be reversed there’s no question the Boyd could come roaring back to what it once was and then some. And maybe with the continuing to skyrocket gas prices who knows? But until that happens, other than superficially, there’s no way you could revive the Boyd to what it once was.

Now to me, over the past several years (since my joining CT in fact), I viewed the revival of Philadelphia’s movie theaters and palaces as a way of luring people back to the city once more, reversing the trend of everything going the other way. But it is very much a which should come first, which can come first, the chicken or the egg, equation. But if we’re living in a world where all homage and political reverence is shown to those in suburbia — which, by the way, is the case with Philadelphia’s current mayor, Michael Nutter — with the accompanying outlook that we here in the city “don’t know anything,” good luck trying to do anything good in the city of Philadelphia right now. As I’m sure you know, we have a very high rate of crime in Philadelphia right now. Our prisons are filling up way beyond anything they were ever designed to handle. But of course we do, given the current type of economy we have. And this high rate of crime we have spurs those who fled this city to suburbia to look back to Philadelphia in terms of moving back and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

And come on, who wants to live in a city, or come to a city, where the Philadelphia politicians don’t hear you, they only hear those out in suburbia?

To me, I miss both when Philadelphia was the greatest thing around when it came to cinema, shopping, employment and so on, and when you traveled outside the city there was glorious countryside that went on forever, and the Jersey Shore really was the shore at its wide open and free finest. Of course the Boyd did very well when it was like that. Of course it did.

But now if money’s going to come from somewhere to bring it back, it will have to come from the people who profitted immensely from transforming the Delaware Valley from the glorious way it once was laid out economically to the bland way it is now. But if that happens, be advised it will be a very superficial way of bringing the Boyd back. Interesting to note, if we locked those people up in prison — starting with Mayor Nutter — instead of the people we’re locking up now, we could greatly reduce Philadelphia’s current prison population dramatically. Hey, one can dream, can’t he?

dennisczimmerman on May 18, 2008 at 10:09 am

Theatre Buff1 – I would love to attend both functions. However, when I write that I would be making plans to travel into Center City, that travel originates in Lancaster, PA. And when you are still working full time, taking time off means a vacation day. And as much as I would like to attend, vacation days to me need to be saved for a vacation. I cannot believe that in a city the size of Philadelphia, there is not enough support to get this theatre restored and reopened. If only they could come up with a way for the flyers, Sixers, Eagles, or Phillies to play there, the support I would think would be overwhelming. They, the city and its citizens, could comee up with a humongous amount of money to build two new stadiums, but the money to restore its last movie palace – a much smaller amount of money – cannot be found. I guess it is all where your priorities lie. There is just as many people who would spend their money in Center City dining and attending an event at the Boyd, just like some people shell out their hard earned money to see a sport team in Philly. When there were many movie palaces in Center City, my wife and I – and on occasion friends – would make a weekend of it. Arriving Saturday and spend the day shopping. Then dinner out and a movie at the Boyd – Stanley – Fox – Midtown, etc. Then stay over night and have breakfast out in the morning before heading back to Lancaster. It was a nice break “mini vacation.”

TheaterBuff1 on May 17, 2008 at 11:03 pm

DennisZ, this upcoming Thursday — May 22, 2008, starting at 11:30 A.M. — they’re planning to have a huge save the Boyd rally in front of the Boyd Theatre. Speakers will include John Gallery of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State Representative Babette Josephs, Adrian Fine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and, of course, Howard B. Haas, Esq., president of Friends of the Boyd.

Also this coming Thursday, from 5:30 PM to 7 PM, at the AIA Center for Architecture at 1218 Arch Street, Adrian Fine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Shawn Evans, AIA of Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, will present an illustrated lecture on the significance and the plight of the Boyd Theatre and place it in the context of a national preservation struggle. The lecture is free. No reservations are needed.

So if you could find a way to attend this rally and/or lecture afterwards and assert your views — which I fully agree with — I think that would be really cool!

dennisczimmerman on May 17, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I see the TV ads, newspaper ads, and publicity for the new “Indiana Jones” movie opening in a few days. It makes me think back to the first three “Indy” films. I would make plans to travel to Center City to see the film in “70MM Six Track Stereo Sound” at the Boyd/Sameric Theatre. Now we no longer have that choice. Worse yet, even if there were still some “70mm” theatres around, films are not being released with 70mm prints anylonger. It is sort of a catch 22. If there were still theatres, would they make 70mm prints? If there were 70mm prints, would there still be theatres to show them. Anyone who has not seen a film presented in 70mm six track stereo sound has not seen a great presentation. And those of us who have, will miss those days and times. Even now, just hearing the music from “HTWWW”, “Lawrence”,“My Fair Lady”, “Camelot” and all the others brings back so many pleasant movie going memories. I can still picture those red curtains opening on the curved Cinerama screen at the BOYD and would love to see that again. Oh well, at least some of us had that experience to remember.

ericalynn on March 5, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Thanks! I have more that I’ll post shortly.

TheaterBuff1 on March 4, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Very good photos, ericalynn g.! In an eerie sort of way they remind me a bit of that scene in the 1946 David Lean movie, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, when Pip returns to Miss Havisham’s house long after she’s gone but discovers Estella to still be there. Yet how things do change from what they once were. To think of the huge crowds that flocked to there with the premiere of BEN HUR in the late 1950s. How very different the place called Philadelphia was then. I look to those memories and then I look to these photos and I think, no, they can’t be the same place, the same building, can they? For the one image I hold is so full of life, the other so void of such. Gone now are the searchlights of opening night and the long limousines, the souvinir booklets, the stars in their tuxedos signing their autographs in them, the grand exhibiting of the film itself. THAT Boyd will never be again. It came and went and now it’s behind us all forever.

Yet as I look at this old girl I think, there’s still some life in it yet. And to reveal it, all it would take is a young brash Pip to pull the old long-musty curtains down to let that new light in.

ericalynn on March 4, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Here are some pictures I took of the Boyd/Sam Eric 4:

View link

bruceanthony on January 30, 2008 at 9:32 am

Live Nation held on to the following theatres not included in the sale, Opera House (BF Keith) Boston,Hilton NYC which is currently hosting the long run musical “Young Frankenstein,Warner Washington DC and the Boyd in Philidelphia. The Broadway community is very happy that Live Nation sold these theatres to a private investor who will take more interest in the theatres and also produce there own shows beside hosting Broadway tours. Clear Channel did a much better job with the theatres until they spun it off as LIve Nation.The Nederlanders purchased Live Nations 50% interest in Broadway in Chicago for 60 Million prior to this sale.brucec

HowardBHaas on January 26, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Oh, goodness, I meant to write that “the Boyd was NOT included in that sale.”

HowardBHaas on January 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm

The Boyd was included in the sale.

dennisczimmerman on January 26, 2008 at 7:43 pm

I just saw in the Friday paper that Live Nation has sold their theatres. I was wondering whether the Boyd was included in that sale. The article was in the New York Times and they did not mention the Boyd.

bruceanthony on November 28, 2007 at 9:30 am

Howard, the Nederlanders ran the Merriam the former Shubert for a number of years after the Shuberts moved to the Forrest. The Shuberts were forced to divest many theatres becuase of a court Decree of being a monopoly. The only new theatres that the Shuberts built after the decree was the Shubert in LA which was demolished a few years ago. The Shuberts run 17 Broadway theatres in New York and now only have two theatres left outside of New York, the Forrest in Philidelphia and the National in Washington DC. The Nederlanders run 9 Broadway theatres and run many Broadway theatres accross the U.S. The Forrest and the Merriam as stated before are to small to present large scale Broadway musicals such as “Wicked”, they both seat less than 2000 seats. The Boyd with 2400 seats is the perfect size capacity for the road. I think people who are interested in saving the Boyd should stress this point to City leaders. Live Nation saw that the market in Philidelphia needed a theatre the size of the Boyd for Broadway road productions. Live Nation looked at the Boston market and realized that the Wang with 3600 seats was to large for Broadway shows and the Colonial was to small for many of the large scale Broadway musicals and decided to restore the long closed Opera House (BF Keith), which is now the primary theatre in Boston for large scale Broadway Musicals such as “Wicked”.brucec

TheaterBuff1 on November 21, 2007 at 12:19 am

Not during the current strike it isn’t.

bruceanthony on November 20, 2007 at 8:38 am

Live Nation is selling all there theatres across the U.S with the exception of the Hilton in New York City and the Opera House in Boston due to complicated tax credits with both cities. They want to concntrate on there core business which is presenting musical acts across the nation. The Boyd got caught in the companys plan to sell all theatres. The demand for suitable musical theatres in New York is huge. A Broadway bound show such as “Cry Baby” was delayed a season becuase there were no available theatres on Broadway. The number of Broadway theatres has grown in the last decade fron 30 to 40 when the new Henry Miller opens next year. Broadway is even producing more plays with the new profit formula of star driven limited runs from 10 to 20 weeks.brucec

HowardBHaas on November 20, 2007 at 5:34 am

Live Nation is selling their theaters that presents legit shows, because they want to be a Rock N Roll CONCERT company. That’s why they chose a name like “Live Nation” in the first place. Recently, they sold their ownership interests in the former movie palaces in Chicago’s Loop, because those are legit theaters.

TheaterBuff1 on November 19, 2007 at 11:54 pm

I would find it very interesting why Live Nation finally gave up on its plan, for it to come right out and state exactly why. For I, for one, was never against the Boyd being made use of in this way. But as I look at what’s currently going on up there on NYC’s Great White Way, and with it being very unclear what the end resolve is going to be with that, I look at Philadelphia, where in terms of unions being reasonable it’s the absolute worst city in the world. And when looking at that side of Philadelphia it’s not really hard to figure out, ah, that’s why Live Nation finally gave a shrug of resignation. I’m certainly not anti-union by any means. But in Philadelphia’s case we have what we can call mindless unions, ones who have long lost all sight of what they should be collectively bargaining for and what they should be against. So if Live Nation is having great difficulty explaining why it finally gave up on the Boyd, how exactly do you explain what ultimately amounts to a resistance of shear insanity? For that’s the b—— of it. You can’t. Only that it was able to make the simplest things a total impossibility.

HowardBHaas on November 19, 2007 at 9:32 am

Brucec is correct, but let me clarify regarding particular theaters. Nederlander isn’t in Philadelphia. Shubert owns the Forrest Theatre on Walnut Street. The former Shubert is the Merriam Theatre, now owned by University of the Arts. Each of those is too small for large scale musicals as he says. The Kimmel Center isn’t a venue at all for Touring Broadway shows. The Academy of Music is, as he says.

bruceanthony on November 19, 2007 at 9:09 am

The Boyd is the percect size theatre to house Broadway musicals on the road that is why Live Nation was interested in the Boyd.Most restored movie palaces now serve as Broadway road houses or Performing Art Centers. The Boyd could be a home for Broadway ,Concerts,Dance and Classic Film. The Shubert and Nedelander theatres as stated before are to small for the large scale musicals on the road. The Academy of Music and the Performing Art Center aren’t perfect venues for Broadway shows. The Hippodrome in Baltimore was restored for Broadway shows and the Boyd would serve the same need in Philidelphia.brucec

TheaterBuff1 on November 14, 2007 at 12:57 am

Just for future reference, Brucec, it’s spelled “Pittsburgh”, with the “h” at the end carefully kept intact.

Now as for live performance venues in Philadelphia, while I as a Philadelphian certainly wouldn’t object to the Boyd serving this purpose, the city certainly has no shortage of such now. But it doesn’t have a MOVIE palace, and it needs one badly. And the only opportunity left for that right now is the Boyd. But, it’s Philadelphia, and Philadelphia’s not thinking right right now and may not make it to the other side of this. Several years back I might’ve said, “No, no, this city still has a good chance!” And I DID. But now I have many many doubts. So where the Boyd goes from here is a total toss-up. If it survives in any way as a theater I’ll be happy. But we’ve gotten so steeped in this denial thing that its greatest calling is as a movie palace, and it’s now to the stage (no pun meant) of being surreal.

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!