City Line Center Theatre

7600 City Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19151

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City Line Center Original Lobby

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened on August 31, 1949, the City Line Center Theatre was in the Overbrook Park neighborhood of Philadelphia, as part of a strip mall, City Line Center, which had a 12 acre tract, that also included 24 retail stores including supermarkets, and a huge 1,000 capacity parking lot.

The strip mall was developed by the Suburban Company that in 1930 built another nearby, outdoor mall, Suburban Square in Ardmore, PA, and in 1937 opened the Suburban Theatre.

The City Line Center Theatre was designed by Philadelphia theatre architect William H. Lee, whose theatre designs in the nearby western suburbs included the Anthony Wayne, Bryn Mawr, Narberth, and Suburban theatres. The movie operator was Fried Theatres, which had offices in 1950 at the Suburban Theatre, but by 1969 had relocated offices to the City Line Center.

The City Line Center Theatre was known as the City Line Center and was Art Moderne in style. An outside forecourt had a stand alone ticket booth. A huge circular marquee greeted patrons. All 1,530 seats were on a single sloping floor, with the projection suite overhanging the rear five rows. The original, curtained screen was 28.6 feet wide and 21.3 feet tall. There was a stage, an ushers room, and a posters room. In the 1950’s, the front of the vast auditorium was adjusted to install a curtained, huge, wide movie screen for CinemaScope movies.

In 1973 or 1974, movie operation was turned over to local Philadelphia movie theatre chain Budco, which twinned the auditorium. Budco was purchased by AMC, which continued to show mainstream movies. In 1990 or 1991, the theatre closed and was gutted, including removal of the ticket booth, marquee, and exterior forecourt, and became a TJ Maxx retail store. For years afterwards, the wording City Line Center was seen on the exterior wall of the auditorium, before being painted over.

Contributed by Bryan, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 33 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on April 7, 2013 at 3:28 am

Kevanos, the link to Youtube video doesn’t work anymore? I enjoyed that video & would like to see it again.

freddylubin
freddylubin on May 23, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Anyone here remember the Saturday kiddie matinees in the ‘60s? All the neighborhood kids would meet there (some after synagogue), for whatever was showing. It cost a quarter dollar, another 15 cents for popcorn. I now teach film history, but, as Pauline Kael would say, I lost it at the City Line Center theater. Best memory: “The Great Escape”, after which we decided to set up a POW camp in the woods, and tunnel our way out. Worked on it for about two days. So, anyone….?

molly123
molly123 on October 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I was a frequent visitor to this theater in the 50’s. living just 1 block away on 77th st. My wonderful memories include saturday afternoon matinees like “The Blob” and a lot of the great “horror movies” of the era. Ist of course was lunch nest store at the Sun Ray drugs store…usually a grilled cheese, and a lime Rickey. I believe the matinee was a nickle! I also recall the theater decked out for a movie I saw with my parents, Judy Holiday, in “The Bells are Ringing”. The entire lobby had telephones, I thought…wow how cool! Later I took a girlfriend to see another Steve McQueen movie, Bullit…was she mesmerized! The last movie I saw there was a matinee…Woodstock.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 20, 2014 at 12:20 am

August 31st, 1949 grand opening ad at http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2023/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201949/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201949%20a%20-%207145.pdf

and in the photo section.

robtadrian
robtadrian on July 20, 2014 at 7:48 am

Saw my first 3d movies here! House of Wax revival, Comin At Ya, Parasite. Also Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Prom Night, Halloween 2, a friend walked out of Bachelor Party when the scene with the dominatrix came on, First screening of the Twilight Zone movie (3rd in line), Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Superman 2 Purple Rain

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on October 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Thank you for the new link!

Kevanos
Kevanos on November 5, 2014 at 3:22 am

In 1987 I worked for the theater as a Part Time Manager. At that time I was a film major at Temple U. and one night I stayed late and shot a video for a Production class. I just re-edited it from the master tape and CD. Here is a new link to this version on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy8l6Rq6yHg

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 5, 2014 at 6:30 am

Kevanos, thank you for the improvement! I had noticed the recent prior link didn’t hold up well on HD computer. This is so much better. I saw an image of the larger auditorium 1 screen. To show scope films did it expand left & right or was it narrowed from top & bottom from masking? Can you estimate the screen’s height & how wide (at its widest, for a scope film)? I’d welcome a screenshot of that screen & auditorium. Other than the screen, it is very nice to see all the other details in the improved video.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on November 6, 2014 at 1:28 am

Howard theater 1 masking opened left to right. Theater 2 masking went down just fro the top.

Kevanos
Kevanos on November 6, 2014 at 3:27 am

Yes Howard and Mike, that is correct. I don’t remember exactly how they were controlled. I vaguely remember a box on the left side of the projection booth by the breaker panel, with switches on it.

On this YouTube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNnfu4uwCco I have posted some of the raw footage with ambient sound. One of the shots is the full tracking shot from lobby to screen. I will also try to post a screen grab of the full screen.

I’m not sure how to calculate the dimensions of the newer screen. I believe that the seats are original and the isles were not changed when it was twinned. If this is so then count five seats to right in the middle front section. That should be the right side of the newer screen. A couple feet to the right of the left front exit should be the left edge of the newer screen.

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