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The City Theater opened on 29th October 1935 with the Austrian film “Episode” starring Paula Wessely. The architect of this stunning cinema designed in a Dutch Functionalist style was Jan Wils, with interior design by Oscar Rosendahl and it had a seating capacity of 1,350. The City Theater was equipped with a Strunk 4Manual/17Rank theatre organ which was opened by Reginald Foort who came over from England. Another facility was the provision of a cafe and ballroom.
The City Theater was one of the premier first run cinemas in Amsterdam city centre and is located close to the Leidseplein. In 1972 the use of the organ during regular film shows was stopped and the instrument was only played for special concerts which continued for many years.
In 1973-1974 major construction work was carried out to alter the cinema into 7-screens. City 1 in the former front orchestra stalls has 836 seats and still uses the original proscenium opening and has the organ. The circle was converted into 3 screens, the cafe/ballroom into a single screen and 2 small screens were converted out of areas in the basement, giving the current seating capacity of 1,505.
The City Thetaer came under the Cannon Cinemas banner in 1984 and was last operated by Pathe, who refurbished it in 1994. Unfortunately, the splendid Art Deco style facade is now mainly covered with metal sheeting and advertising boards.
On February 1, 2007 the City Theater closed for a renovation. Reportedly the exterior will be restored to its original 1935 appearance. Unfortunately the proposals planned include the sub-division of City 1 auditorium (former front orchestra stalls level) which had the huge screen in its original proscenium opening and contained the Strunk theatre organ. It re-opened in 2011 as an art house cinema, with seven auditoriums and 625 seats.
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