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Here’s a photo of a 1908 LA city directory. This was posted by another user in the discussion of the Optic Theater. Here, the Lyric Theater is listed, so it was already going by the Lyric at that date, and had not yet become Glockner’s. Didn’t seem to be Talley’s Electric Theater for very long.
As the site of the first motion picture theater, this location should definitely be hailed as a landmark.
A new garage for the LAPD motorpool is being built on the site. As a concession to the neighborhood residents, some retail stores are being placed on the street front. A nice brass plaque commemorating the location’s history would fit nicely on the building.
Right now, it’s just a broken old sidewalk. Recognition of the site’s history would add more to the neighborhood, maybe even more business for the Imaginasian Center across the street.
Here’s a link to the Dramarama video. You can see both the interior and exterior of the theater pretty well, including the marquee and box office.
The photo posted by Ken Mc on March 20, 2008, shows that theater also has a sign reading “Tele-View Newsreel Theater.” It’s pretty tiny, so it’s easy to miss. I guess that’s another name.
Lots of fun memories of going to see the $3 triple bills here, from 1990 to 1992. I moved to L.A. too late to take in the World Theater, further down the block.
I’m the Ritz offered a similar experience: sticky floors, squeaky seats and people yelling stuff at the screen. Priceless.
The last time I was in here was in 1994, as an extra in the video of “Work for Food” by Dramarama, which was shot here. Several shots of the audience are seen, as they are literally “blown away” by Dramarama’s music. They set up a huge fan inside the theater to get the “blowing” effect. You might find that video on the internet on several video sharing sites. Good times.
We know from the evidence above that this theater changed from the Mar-Cal to the World sometime between 1954 and 1964.
I moved to L.A. in 1989, so I definitely missed this place. Too bad.
I did however get a chance at a similar place, The Ritz, formerly the Pussycat, which was running 3 second run movies for $3 as late as 1992. Further down Hollywood Blvd. I went there at least a dozen times before it too vanished. Similar atmosphere: sticky floors, squeaky seats, and lots of folks yelling back at the screen. Never got maced though. It is now a church, and location of the awesome Skooby’s Hot Dogs.
Based on all the evidence provided above, it looks like the 136 S. Main location was not The Liberty until around 1942, when it was showing porno, or whatever the 1940’s equivalent to porno was.
Who knows how long it lasted after that? As late as 1938 it was oeprating as the Novelty, showing 5 movies plus a serial for a nickel.
It seems like the 262 S. Main location was the Liberty much earlier, around 1910, lasting until..??? This was the theater with the elegant arch shown in the postcard.
Wish I could have gone to the Novelty, with its cheap-ass appearance and program of cheesy B-westerns. Looks like it was a lot of fun. Before my time. Even my Dad was only 7 years old at this time.
I went to two showings during the “free” week, Dec. 2-6.
The theater was about 2/3 full, though I was one of the few non-Asians in attendance. (The films had English subtitles.) The audience was about 85% Asian. Yes, they do have the usual popcorn and candy for sale. No, they are not selling sushi or bento boxes, though I would enjoy that.
A nice, spanking new, modern, sleek little one-screener. The neighborhood is still a little scary, but much improved over past decades. If you live in L.A., check it out sometime.
Actually, looking at those pictures, amazingly, all the buildings on that block on the East side of Main are still there, with the exception of the Burbank Theater.
The other side of the street, well, not so much. Everything torn down except the Rosslyn Hotel, and a 5 story parking garage built.
Still hanging on.
The Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live won’t be open until 2009, so this might keep going until then.
William, I know that’s how the theaters on Broadway were running: on fumes. I even went to movies there at the end, in the mid 1990’s. Probably 20-30 times. All I’m asking for is ONE theatre to open up.
I think we might need a non-profit operator like the American Cinematheque to come in and run one of the theaters. But one thing is for sure: downtown’s population IS growing and most of the new arrivals do have disposable income to go see a movie. I guess we’ll see how popular the ImaginAsian Center is. If they start making money, maybe small single screen art house cinemas, or a calendar house could be profitable. I intend to patronize that place, at least part of the time.
I love the store right next to it: “Ye Post Card Shop.”
Ha ha! You can still advertise that you are selling “Havana Cigars.”
Maybe one day again.
That 1985 photo posted by Ken on August 6th shows the San Carlos Hotel, and on the ground floor can be the roof of Googie’s Coffee Shop, which started the “Googie architecture” style in the 1950’s, though I believe it was the other branch next to Schwab’s Drugstore on Crescent Heights in Hollywood that had all the wild stylistic elements in the architecture. I don’t remember any of this first hand, I think I read about it somewhere along the way.
Well, there’s the history: Clune’s Theatre at Fifth and Main opened in 1909, had a fire in 1913, possibly was closed after that, and the Rosslyn Hotel replaced it by 1917. Short run there.
But this still doesn’t give us more info about the supposed 729 S. Main Street address.
No, we know they had the grand opening December 1, with “dignitaries” in attendance.
They are currently screening films for free, (December 2-6) but December 7th remains the “official” opening date. They will start charging admission on that date. Put a fork in the Linda Lea, she’s done.
Time for a new entry.
The Linda Lea moved to the theater at 249 S. Main Street by 1954.
That theater was formerly the Arrow, then the Azteca.
See the entry under Linda Lea.
No, no, there’s nothing there. I went over there a couple months ago to check it out. There’s still a sign reading “Cinemaland.” The front door is locked.
I went around to the back of the building and peeked inside. The door was jammed open. Everything had been ripped out. No seats, everything down to the bare walls.
There was a sweatshop inside. About 3 dozen Asian women sewing things.
I suppose you could rebuild a theater in this space, but it would cost too much, and not too many people live in this part of Chinatown anyway.
I agree with Ken about the marquee. Says “Linda” vertically. Also love the giant rooftop sign that says “Japanese Films.” I wonder if that was neon.
From this photo we can guess that the theater’s renovation with the orange/yellow sign that remained up until this year, was constructed some time after 1954.
Also the Ateca was running burlesk shows? Was is common for theatres to mix live burlesk and films? I was under the impression they usually only ran one or the other, not both, but what do I know, that was before I was born. Anybody have any idea about that?
The names of these two buildings are somewhat confusing.
The Rosslyn and The Rosslyn Annex are owned by two separate parties now. The Rosslyn Hotel (formerly the Rosslyn Annex) is still an SRO hotel and will probably remain so. The original Rosslyn, recently called the Frontier Hotel and now called the Rosslyn Lofts, has been converted to market rate (read: too expensive for poor people to afford) lofts on the top three floors. The remaining nine floors will be renovated, but will remain as “affordable housing.” This building was recently purchased by Amerland, who also purchased (and are renovating) the Alexandria Hotel a block over. Both buildings have art galleries on the ground floor and are Ground Zero of “Gallery Row.”
There’s a building on Spring Street between 8th and 9th that used to be a taxi dance hall, looks like. Even though it was recently renovated to some degree, it still has signs on the outside advertising “Dancing.” The street level space is empty, but the upper floors are occupied and home to the Los Angeles Garment & Citizen newspaper.
The confusion is that the building across the street houses the “MJ Higgins Gallery.” But that’s not the formal name of the building, which is a squat, one story brick building which probably dates to the 1890’s. Only one other building on that end of the block. The building ½ block away is formally known as “The Higgins Building” which is huge, about 10 stories tall, 200 feet on each side, built around 1910, and was converted to condos about 5 years ago. That building is not going anywhere.
The MJ Higgins Gallery is going to be torn down very shortly. That end of the block will have a huge concrete garage constructed on it for the Los Angeles PD Motorpool. The new LAPD HQ building (about 12 stories) is being built about ½ block away, across 2nd Street from the Higgins Building. They claim the building will have rentable storefronts in it facing the sidewalk, which is somewhat of a giveback to the residents in the area, but, I am still skeptical.
Anyway, getting back to the topic of this entry, the old Linda Lea Theater. It should be open by the end of September 2007. Here’s a link to a story with some renderings of the outside and inside of the project.
It will look NOTHING like the old theater, but at least it will still remain as a theater. Right now, Downtown has only one operating theater, the Laemmle Grande 4, on the other side of Downtown. That’s not enough for a district where 30,000 residents live, though a new multiplex is coming to LA Live, across the street from Staples Center.
Where else can you watch classic films with the people that were in them?
That’s great that we’re getting some megaplexes, but I guess I am very impatient. Those won’t be running for at least 18 more months. And they won’t have the history and character of the places on Broadway.
Oh well, the Linda Lea should be open in about six months. That’s only two four blocks from where I live. At least I can watch some Japanese movies over there. Hope they have subtitles.
There has been some construction progress. New red iron is being welded. I didn’t have my camera with me to capture the progress. Maybe I’ll get out my camera, take a picture and post a link to it here as soon as I can get motivated enough to do it.
It’s a very small theater so maybe it could be done in three months if they keep moving.
Rumours are going around of the Tower getting a rehab and showing movies again in the distant future. Apparently this news is coming from a sales agent selling condos at the Chapman Building, which is across the street. The website for the theater itself has not changed at all.
Here’s the link, take this rumor for what it’s worth: