Golden Gate Theatre

1 Taylor Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Golden Gate Theatre

The RKO Golden Gate Theatre had a ‘sister’ theatre in Los Angeles the RKO Hillstreet Theatre of 1922.

The Golden Gate Theatre was opened on March 26, 1922 with vaudeville on the stage and Wanda Hawley in “Too Much Wife” on the screen. Seating 2,800 in orchestra and balcony levels, it was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual, 13 ranks theatre pipe organ. It was a movie theatre for over 50 years until it closed in the 1970’s. By the time it was shuttered, the Golden Gate Theatre had already been converted into a two screen theatre on December 21, 1966, with the balcony theatre known as the Penthouse Theatre, opening with Jean-Paul Belmondo in “Is Paris Burning”. With the twinning it suffered little permanent damage as it was later restored to a single auditorium by the Shorenstein Hayes Nederlander group.

When it was finally renovated and reopened in 1979 into a performing arts center, the original detail and look of the theatre was restored as well. Although the neighborhood has remained a little seedy, the theatre is still very grand, with two marvelous Art Deco style vertical signs that are nearly 4 stories high. Today, the Golden Gate Theatre is still a premier venue for travelling Broadway shows and a visual journey into San Francisco’s gilded past. Renovation began in August 2017 to the plans of architectural firm ELS Architects who returned the theatre to its original 1922 opening condition. It reopened on September 11, 2018 with “On Your Feet”.

Contributed by Juan-Miguel Gallegos

Recent comments (view all 65 comments)

terrywade
terrywade on January 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm

To bad the front of this RKO Golden Gate Theatre is a mess today in 2013. What is left of the great marquee is now painted a ugly brown color. Even the tall blades that say Golden Gate are painted in brown. The neon is not on or working. The front in the 50’s and 60’s was like a huge neon accordion of color ornage, green, yellow and blue. Please, the Shorenstein’s make big bucks in Broadway shows they play here, why can’t they get a good neon company back in and fix the front up with some color and repair the neon. This is one of the worst spots in SF day or night, even with theatre security you take your life in chance.

Mikeyisirish
Mikeyisirish on May 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hey HDTV – Do any of the neon lights outside work? Does it light up at all? I’ve been looking to photograph this one for a while, but don’t know it’s worth the two hour drive!

Hanse4
Hanse4 on April 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Hi – I am working with a WWII Veteran that happened to be on leave and in the Golden Gate Theatre the day that the Japanese surrendered – August 14th, 1945.

He does not remember the name of the movie that was playing that day and I was wondering if anyone might know if there is a way to find out? I have called the theater and they are seeing what they can do – but thought I would check with other resources as well !

Chapps
Chapps on January 26, 2017 at 5:29 pm

The theater was one of my favorites – a real grand palace – but it had become careworn even in the 60s, when I was a kid. My mother loved taking me there, because she could recall how thrilling it was to see ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ there in 1950, when she was a teenager. Her godmother had taken her for a ‘girl’s day’ in the city (my mother was attending the all-girl Dominican Convent school in Marin County – now San Domenico School), and they had already had lunch and gone for a day of shopping at City of Paris. The movie theater was everything to my mother – and the movie was thrilling. Amazing how a place can become emotionally tangled in your memories like that. And she succeeded in transferring that thrill and love for the Golden Gate in me as well. Glad that it’s still there, even if it doesn’t show movies any more.

stevenj
stevenj on June 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Five years after terrywade posted above there seems to be some work being done on the exterior blade(s) and marquee. I posted a photo taken June 24 showing the scaffold around one of the blades. From this thread at Broadwayworld.com it also appears that a renovation of the theatre has been going on and it will reopen in September.

GG Theatre

rivest266
rivest266 on August 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm

The Golden Gate Penthouse theatre opened on December 21st, 1966. Grand opening ad posted.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on September 6, 2018 at 12:04 pm

“Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco nears 100 with makeover.” By Sam Whiting Updated 5:30 pm PDT, Wednesday, September 5, 2018

https://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Golden-Gate-Theatre-in-San-Francisco-nears-100-13207296.php?t=ade492c79c&utm_campaign=fb-desktop&utm_source=CMS+Sharing+Button&utm_medium=social

MSC77
MSC77 on December 10, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Does anyone know which booking followed the roadshow run of “Far from the Madding Crowd” in the Golden Gate Penthouse?

MSC77
MSC77 on December 11, 2018 at 1:18 am

Does anyone know which booking followed the roadshow run of “Patton” at the Golden Gate?

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on December 16, 2018 at 2:51 am

The Penthouse Theatre opened with “Is Paris Burning?”.

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