Azteca Theater

838 F Street,
Fresno, CA 93706

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Whizzer Motorbike at teh Azteca Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Azteca Theater opened in 1948 as a venue for both live and film entertainment, and once drew some of the most famous Mexican singers of the day. Before it closed years ago, the Azteca Theater was a dollar movie house showing kung-fu movies.

Closed as a movie theater now for many years, the Azteca Theater, located in Fresno’s Chinatown, was purchased by theater organ enthusiast David Owens who has transformed its lobby into a gallery and gift shop.

Contributed by Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Impressaria Maria
Impressaria Maria on June 21, 2005 at 7:19 pm

The theater was built by Gustavo Acosta in 1948 who had several theaters and worked out of Los Angeles. It was the first Spanish-only theater in Fresno and served the whole San Joaquin valley. Sometime in the 1950s Arturo Tirado took over the Teatro Azteca in Fresno and received film distribution through Acosta in Los Angeles. Tirado was born in 1912 to a family of entertainors that moverd to Los Angeles around 1918 and he acted in theaters and some cinema and even played violin in a music group. He organized tours in the US for many famous actors and musicians from Mexico. He ran the Azteca until 1980. In later years it became more of a social center for the Mexican-American community helping those in need, charitable food drives and Tirado even wrote some Spanish language brochures on legal citizenship to help the many workers from Mexico who populated the San Joaquin valley. In the early 1980s the theater ran budget films in English and Spanish.
The theater was the center for music, vaudeville, comedy and theatrics as well a s cinema for the Mexican-American community. When Cesar Chavez made his famous march for farmworkers from Delano to Sacramento he stopped at the Azteca and rallied his followers. The mayor, Tirado and infamous Police Chief Morton escorted the march through the area to show respect and guarantee safe passage.
The theater fell into neglect in the late 1980s and by 1995 was in derelict condition with doors off, holes in the roof, all seats and equipment removed. There uswed to be 10 large murals of Azteca life on the wall and many framed photos of stars of Mexico. Now it is stabilized and under renovation and there is a desire to find old photos of what it used to look like.
It was designed by Johnson engineers who also designed the Biola Theater in a nearby community. The roof trusses were built by Sanger Iron and thanks to good construction the building is sound and has a good long future ahead.

Impressaria Maria
Impressaria Maria on June 22, 2005 at 11:44 am

The facade is an art deco style even though it was built 1947-8.
I believe it was affiliated with Azteca Films from Mexico, thus the namesake.

kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Here is an April 1969 ad from the Fresno Bee:

Impressaria Maria
Impressaria Maria on November 15, 2009 at 8:51 pm

“Arturo Tirado and the Teatro Azteca: Mexican popular culture in the central San Joaquin Valley"
An article by Dr. Guzman the role of Tirado and the Azteca Theater in Hispanic culture in Central California appeared in California History magazine.
View link

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm

A 2011 photo can be seen here.

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