Palace Theatre

1214-16 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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Showing 1 - 25 of 30 comments

DavidZornig on October 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Three `50’s photos of Market & 12th Streets added via Paul Walton.

TheALAN on November 2, 2014 at 5:03 am

The TheaterBluff had to check in again with his politcal nonsense. FDR, Nixon, Rizzo? What the hell did they have to do with the Palace Theatre? The Palace Theatre, like so many other theaters at the time, fell victim to television, plain and simple!

Mikeoaklandpark on February 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

The thing I remember about this theater is it had a turnstill enterance after you bought your ticket.

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 7:36 am

The 1931 Palace facade photo is #26 on page 4 of the search results…just click on the Feb. 12 link and do a “Market Street” search on the Hagley site. You can see the Savoy across the street in the early construction photos.

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 7:14 am

Joe (& theater fans everywhere…): There are many progress photos of the demolition and the construction of the PSFS Building, on the Hagley site. The Palace facade can be seen, also the East wall with a Palace sign painted on it. Great stuff!

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 6:44 am

Joe: That’s Greta Garbo’s head on the left side of the Palace, in the 1931 photo. “Inspiration” is playing. Search the site for “Market Street” and there is a great close-up shot of the Palace Theatre, probably taken the same day…

TivFan on February 13, 2013 at 6:13 am

Bingo!, Joe. The Palace is the theater in the postcard I have. The perspective and depth of focus made it look like this theater was the third building from the corner. I looked at some photos on the Philly history site that showed the buildings on the South side of Market Street from 13th Street. But the buildings they showed didn’t go as far as the theater. When I saw the photos, the theater got further down the block from 13th St. One showed the Fairyland, but that wasn’t it. I just checked your link to the Palace 1931 photo, and this is it! The awning is the same and the building next door with the arched windows matched the one in the postcard. Thanks. Another one down.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 12, 2013 at 6:56 pm

The front of the Palace Theatre can be seen at far right in this 1931 photo. The buildings between the Palace and 12th Street were then about to be demolished to make way for Howe & Lescaze’s Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building.

wdc73 on February 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm

The Apollo is featured in the 1981 movie Blow-Out, John Travolta’s character’s office is located above it, you get a good shot of it about ½ hour into the movie.

teegee on September 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

The photo above is not the same Palace Theater. The photo shows the Budco (later AMC) Palace Theater on Chestnut street. That theater originally opened as Theater 1812.

I went to the Palace often in the 1960’s. It frequently played the first run of the Japanese rubber suit giant monster movies. It was also one four theaters in downtown Philly that were open all night. The others, all on Market Street, were the Center, News, and Family (later the Apollo).

HowardBHaas on March 3, 2009 at 11:02 am

2 Sept 1939 Box Office reported that the Market Street Palace Theatre had 3 stories lopped off per building inspectors’ instructions

TheaterBuff1 on July 12, 2007 at 8:53 pm

The early 1970s was a very tough time for movie palaces, and probably a great deal of it had to do with the political shifts that were going on at that time — the way America was changing by that point under Nixon, and, in Philadelphia’s case, the mayoral rise of Frank Rizzo. While can you imagine a movie palace falling on so desparate times that it believed exhibiting porno was a logical way to remain afloat? And by that I mean actual, straightforward porno, not serious-minded films that the less educated branded as such. Case in point, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, which hit the theaters just two years before the Palace closed, bore an X-rating at that time.

Demographically, in 1971, the baby boom generation, a very sizeable majority, was just starting to come of age at that point. And so there was a mad political scramble as to who and what would have the greatest control over it from that point forward. And though the babyboomers had been weaned on movies exhibited in movie palaces among other things, in the early ‘70s all efforts were made to knock that influence out of the picture completely — a full undoing, if you will, of what FDR and others had helped bring into prominence many decades before.

Of all types of artistic expression, there is nothing more powerful, more potent, then a well-crafted movie exhibited in a well-run theater, and if that theater is a palace this is true even more so. And it’s not something that politicians weren’t aware of in 1971. For it was an awareness that had been strongly in place ever since the time of FDR.

And I believe that had it not been for a few key assassinations that occured not all that long before 1971, there’s a very strong possibility that when 1971 rolled around movie palaces such as the Palace, the Boyd, the Fox and so forth would’ve received an all-new shot in the arm, rather than forced on hard times the way they were. And the hard times they’ve pretty much been on ever since.

kencmcintyre on July 11, 2007 at 6:48 pm

This is from the LA Times dated 6/4/71:

Palace Closes in Philly

The Palace Theater once housed the booking office for Al Jolson, Marie Dressler and Eddie Cantor. Once it was known for silent screen features. This week it closed for the last time. The final film was “Censorship in the USA”, typical of the fare since the 925-seat moviehouse became a center for so-called “adult movies”. The 60-some-year-old theater will be demolished to make way for a $20 million, 17-story complex urban renewal project in Center City.

TheaterBuff1 on March 7, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Both of you and all other visitors to this page should make a special point of going to the following link — — and using the set-up they have set up there to send a fax to Philadelphia Mayor John Street and City Council letting them know the tremendous importance of the Boyd Theatre, PHILADELPHIA’S LAST STILL-STANDING MOVIE PALACE, and why all efforts absolutely must be made to ensure it does not face demolition. It’s current owner, Live Nation, has hinted that it might be putting it up for sale, and with the high value of Center City Philadelphia land value right now, a greedy developer could swoop in and have that theater torn down tomorrow! And all of us who love theaters, great palaces especially, cannot allow that, most particularly when it’s Philadelphia’s very last. Not only must we pressure the Mayor and City Council to save this theater from demolition, but also ask their assistance in finding a new owner who will restore it to all its glory. Send your faxes right away if you haven’t already. GOD SAVE THE BOYD!!!

Thank You,


Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on March 6, 2007 at 5:23 pm

WOW, Walter ! Tell us more. What years did your employment span at the Palace?

Come visit my site paying homage to the early years of the Orleans Theatre. I have every movie from opening day, May 8, 1963 till April 1972 listed in the Documents section on the site.

C'mon over and visit and join up.


tallramsay on March 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I was the Mge of the Palace when it close I work at the Palace for 13 years as usher and Mge when it close it was like losing a good friend I have a great time as mgr of the Palace theatre

kencmcintyre on September 16, 2006 at 3:25 pm

The theater across the street is the Savoy, to answer my own question. Here is a photo from 1949:

kencmcintyre on September 12, 2006 at 12:58 pm

The Palace is on the left in this 1948 photo. There is another theater across the street, which I can’t identify offhand:

kencmcintyre on September 11, 2006 at 4:24 pm

Here is a 1963 photo of the Palace from Temple U:

TheaterBuff1 on December 19, 2005 at 6:38 pm


Thanks for setting me straight on that! Being as I’m up here in NE Philly and haven’t been back down to that part of Center City in many years, and since Cinema Treasures gives no listing/description for the Apollo Theatre, I just assumed from that that the two theaters must’ve been one and the same. I remember the 13th & Market Septa subway stop (as much as I try hard to forget it!) indicating that by the time I began passing through that part of Center City regularly (1975-76) the Palace plus the News Theatres were already gone by then.

As for the Boyd Theatre, where my family saw the grand Philadelphia premiere of “Ben Hur” in 1959, the latest really great news on that movie palace is that Clear Channel is in the process of fully restoring it to its original magnificent glory and it will be for live performances for top name acts when fully renovated. Howard B. Haas, Esq. is in charge of the over all project, and from I understand, he’s doing a great job! Meantime, it’s a shame the Palace designed by William Harold Lee, which must’ve been a magnificent theater, too, wasn’t as lucky.

veyoung52 on December 19, 2005 at 1:23 am

I think the Palace was on the South side of Market St., and the Apollo (I’ve fogotten its original name) was on the North side. Might be wrong. It’s early in the morning. (I just noticed the first posting on this theatre above….it was on the South side,,,1234 Market).

TheaterBuff1 on December 18, 2005 at 6:25 pm


Was the Palace Theatre and the Apollo one and the same? If so, I once trained as a projectionist there – a job lead I had gotten from a friend of mine who was managing the Apollo for a time before later becoming a Philly cop. As for that projectionist job, I went through all the training for it but then didn’t follow through with it, thinking it would look like hell on my resume!

Since I don’t recall any other theaters right around there that were right across Market St. from Wannamakers, I presume the Palace and Apollo were one and the same.

veyoung52 on December 15, 2005 at 12:50 pm

Hughie, let’s have some Boyd-talk. Now, THAT was a theatre!

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on December 15, 2005 at 12:33 pm

Rummah, you are probably correct in that the Palace in the movie, Mikey And Nicky is the same one that was mid block between 12th and 13th Streets on Market Street. Although the movie has a release year of 1976, I seem to recall that the movie was shot a couple or three years prior.

A friend of mine lived in a building at 12th St. and Pine Street from around 1971 to 1974. One day the building owner came through the front door of the building with Elaine May, who directed the movie. She was scouting apartments for use in the movie.

A great deal of the movie was shot in Philadelphia and the surrounding area.. There may have been problems with the shoot and with Elaine “Ishtar” May at the helm there might have been friction between her and the studio. I’m sure, studio execs that saw any footage of Mikey And Nicky were more than baffled by where their money was going. May is not into shooting movies with plots but, rather, she paints character portraits. Within the same time frame of ‘72 or ‘73 a college friend of mine told me that, the day before, he was walking in his neighborhood in the Philly suburb of Glenside. Walking by the cemetery he noticed a film crew and he stuck around. Turns out it was a scene being shot for M & N.

Back to the Palace, though. In the late ‘60’s I would cut school, along with friends and we would go to downtown Philly and hang out at the penny arcades, play pin ball, catch some pie and coffee at Horn& Hardart’s automat or go to movies. A couple of times we did go to the Palace for the soft core porno movies. Mostly, we giggled through the movies as we watched the men scattered around us. They were a serious bunch intent on getting their money’s worth. Matter of fact, as I recall, those eyes riveted on the screen remind me of today’s gamers sitting in front of the TV. Yeah, and as with the men at the Palace theatre the only thing moving are the gamer’s hands.

There used to be so many theatres in the downtown area. After all, all the first run houses were located there and that’s where movies not only opened but that is where one went to see them. Waiting for a movie to come to your neighborhood theatre is akin to waiting for the DVD to come out today.

Sadly, people gradually stopped going downtown to see movies, center city was getting the reputation as being “rough”. Theatre owners, about this time, found profits in the growing popularity of the “Kung Fu movies. This stopped the middle class from going near down town. When the Kung Fu craze faded then the porn movies took their place and when that peaked, there was nothing to offer the middle class who were never coming back downtown to see a movie. Gradually, the theatres were knocked down and replaced with the glass office towers. We moved towards suburban theatres, mall theatres and the multi-plex for our movie going experience. Just as with our shopping and banking experiences of yesteryear we no longer had to go downtown. Wanamaker’s department store, along with Lit Brothers and Gimbals moved to locations in Northeast Philadelphia. Mall were built and, again, it was a thing of the past to venture into the scary streets of downtown Philadelphia.

One of my most cherished memories from my childhood was topping of an agonizing shopping spree with my mother and sisters by having waffles at the Crystal Room restaurant inside Wanamaker’s department store. Occasionally, depending on the time of day we went, there would be a woman’s fashion show during lunch. People ate their lunch while women walked towards you on an elevated run way. Believe me when I say it was not Heidi Klum walking towards you but a model in a long dress that covered everything down to her shins. A hat was a requisite part of the outfit on display as well.

Well, that is enough from me for this posting. You may see me around, contributing to other movie posts. I have a lot of memories of the theatres from my youth and I cherish them all!

teecee on March 2, 2005 at 1:25 pm

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