Alhambra Theater

2330 Polk Street,
San Francisco, CA 94109

Unfavorite 19 people favorited this theater

Alhambra Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Alhambra Theater was opened in 1926. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 2 Manual/6 Ranks theatre organ. It was closed in March 1974 to be twinned and reopened in July 1974. In 1988, it was de-twinned into a single screen theatre again. The Alhambra Theatre was closed in 1997. Having met with a slightly more fortunate end than the more than 30 other single-screen theaters lost in San Francisco since 1980, the Alhambra Theatre found a new life as a Gorilla Sports gym, and from 2006 it had become a Crunch Fitness gym.

Amazingly, the interior and facade have both been preserved almost entirely, with a much-needed facelift. Fresh coats of paint and leafing in the house have this place looking better than it has in decades.

In the balcony you’ll find a surprise: all but the front few rows of seats have been removed and in their place, treadmills facing the theater’s new screen. Management has said that plans for the future include hosting film exhibitions, though not with celluloid — the projection room has been converted to a Yoga Studio!

A startlingly vivid restored marquee still serves as a beacon to the inhabitants of this trendy area of Polk Street.

The current change of use is not the first to endanger this theater — in October of 1930 a pipe bomb was discovered in its ticket booth.

Contributed by Juan-Miguel Gallegos

Recent comments (view all 44 comments)

TLSLOEWS on February 18, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Very nice looking theatre.

bigjoe59 on March 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm

since this theater is a decent size does anyone know if it
was ever used by the studios to present films on an exclusive
roadshow basis in the period 1955-1972?

William on March 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Most of the Roadshow films played Coronet, Alexandria, Golden Gate / Penthouse, UA, Orpheum, Parkside Theatres during that era. Those houses were equipped with full 70MM booths. The Fox Theatre opened “The Robe” for a long engagement. The St. Francis Theatre might have had a roadshow run. The Alhambra Theatre got 70MM much later.

CSWalczak on March 25, 2011 at 1:34 am

For a while after the 1988 restoration to a single screen house, Disney used the Alhambra as its showcase theater in San Francisco when its new films were released, although I do not think the studio had a hand in the restoration as was the case of the El Capitain in Hollywood.

swrdo on May 13, 2011 at 5:42 am

Such a shame that those who have shot off their mouths about the misuse and abuse of this grand theater by Crunch haven’t, apparently, taken the time to actually go see the superb job that Crunch has accomplished. By both restoring and preserving much of the Alhambra they have done us all a great service. Better that they have used it to accomplish a good than to let it die of dust and destruction. Get a life and go see for yourselves before you take pot shots over something you haven’t taken time to actually observe.

CSWalczak on November 26, 2011 at 9:46 pm

An article about the Alhambra and its current use as a gym:

Mikeyisirish on August 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm

A few July 2012 photos can be seen here, here, here and here.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 22, 2014 at 3:31 pm

In June 1926 the Rudolph Wurlitzer company shipped a pipe organ to the Alhambra in San Francisco. It was Wurlitzer’s opus 1364, a style “D,” 2 manuals, 6 ranks in a single chamber: an unusually small organ for a theatre of this size and quality. It was removed around 1960 and supposedly still exists in a private residence.

RSM3853 on October 29, 2015 at 2:09 pm

My research shows the Alhambra reopening as a twin during the week of July 24, 1974. “The Groove Tube” was featured in one auditorium (Alhambra I) and “Jeremiah Johnson” in the other (Alhambra II). Prior to this, the last first run opening I have found is “Man on a Swing” during the week of March 6, 1974, so I am guessing that the construction for twinning took place during the spring and early summer of 1974.

jordanlage on July 3, 2016 at 2:07 pm

I remember being excited to see Altman’s “Buffalo Bill & the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s history Lesson” there in 1976 in one of the twin auditoriums. In fact, I was so stoked to see Paul Newman and Harvey Keitel in a film together, I endured two back-to-back showings. Pretty dull. Today, you won’t find many film buffs mentioning “Buffalo Bill” in the same breath as MASH, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts, or Gosford Park. I was 13 in 1976 and in love with the movies was my excuse. Would have loved to have seen a good film there when it converted back to single screen.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater