Gateway Theatre

119 Sixth Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Showing 1 - 25 of 35 comments

rivest266
rivest266 on September 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm

April 4th, 1942 grand opening ad as J. P. Harris also in the photo section.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Grand opening ad as Gateway December 30th, 1960 in photo section.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Regarding this paragraph in my comment of December 5, 2010:

“An advertisement for Philadelphia building contractors R.C. Ballinger & Co. in a 1907 edition of Sweet’s Catalog of Building Construction listed the Alvin Theatre among the projects the company had built, and said that the house was designed by an Indianapolis architectural firm called Reed Brothers. I’ve been unable to find any other references to that firm on the Internet.”
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, but “Reed Brothers” might have been an error by whoever put together the ad in Sweet’s Catalog. Before establishing their practice in San Francisco, that city’s noted theater architects James and Merritt Reid had operated an office in Evansville, Indiana, along with their younger brother Watson Reid. The Evansville office was sold in 1891, the same year the Alvin Theatre was built. The Reids then moved to California, though Watson eventually returned to their native Canada to practice architecture there.

This is probably not enough information to establish that San Francisco’s Reid Brothers designed the Alvin Theatre, but, if the Sweet’s ad got both the name and the city wrong, it opens the tantalizing possibility that they did. It would be interesting if their first theater design turned out to have been in Pittsburgh, and not in that other hill town where they became famous.

johnbarchibald1
johnbarchibald1 on November 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I can remember seeing a “sneak preview” of “The Time Machine,” in 1960, at what was then called the J.P.Harris Theatre, along with the main scheduled feature, “Let’s Make Love,” which starred Marilyn Monroe, and which I thought was too dull for words. I was 11. But I loved “Time Machine” and still do! I seem to remember other films there, too, like “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and “The Mysterious Island,” which usually appeared around the holidays.

johnbarchibald1
johnbarchibald1 on November 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I can remember seeing a “sneak preview” of “The Time Machine,” in 1960, at what was then called the J.P.Harris Theatre, along with the main scheduled feature, “Let’s Make Love,” which starred Marilyn Monroe, and which I thought was too dull for words. I was 11. But I loved “Time Machine” and still do! I seem to remember other films there, too, like “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and “The Mysterious Island,” which usually appeared around the holidays.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2013 at 12:50 am

The August 30, 1934, issue of The Pittsburgh Press printed a special five-page section devoted to the newly remodeled Harris Alvin Theatre. A scan at Google News begins at this link.

WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on April 22, 2012 at 9:49 am

For years, The Gateway was always the theatre in Pittsburgh where the James Bond movies would premiere. I can remember sitting in the balcony the weekend “The Spy who Loved Me” opened in 1977. I remember hearing a story about how Cinemette anticipated huge business for the first Roger Moore 007 movie “Live and Let Die” in 1973. They booked the movie at both the Gateway AND the Fulton. However, they only had one print of the movie. The spaced the start times about a half hour apart. This was long enough so that the ushers could run reels between the two theatres. Keep in mind the projection booths were at the top of each balcony, and the trip was a long one from booth to booth. The ushers had to be relieved when the business died down after the first couple of weeks, and the feature was just shown at the Gateway.

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 17, 2011 at 11:20 am

A movie and then Zotis, the restaurant with the great Rueben sandwiches next door!

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

of course JAWS. We used to stand in the upstairs rehearsal hall of Heinz Hall and see the long, long lines that had snaked around the block onto Penn

tharley
tharley on October 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Tim Harley is the director of the Jimmy Stewart Museum. He does have a 200 seat theater that was donated by Universal that frequently shows Jimmy Stewart Movies the way they were meant to be seen.. Tom Harley is also from Indiana but apparently is no relation.

Patsy
Patsy on May 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

Mr. Harley is the curator of the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana PA. In these times any donations to the Museum by those of us on Cinema Treasures would be greatly appreciated I’m sure. Thanks.

spectrum
spectrum on December 12, 2010 at 5:36 pm

The Google Street views show the auditorium of the Gateway and the side walls look like 1940 vintage so I think it was completely rebuilt at that time. The theatres are really packed together there. If you walk south, you enter the former entrance of the Byham theatre, through the auditorium onto the stage, through the back wall, audiences at the Gateway would see you enter their venue from the left and continue through the right and then you’d end up entering the O'Reilly Theatre through the backstage wall,, up the auditorium aisle, out through the lobby, across the street and then the audience at Heinz Hall would see you walk through the right wall of the auditorium!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 5, 2010 at 3:20 am

The Theater Catalog atmos cited in the previous comment was mistaken about the year the Harris Theatre was opened. The Project Index of the Wolfsonian’s Eberson Archives lists the project as “Alvin Theatre Building & Alterations” and gives the year as 1941. A 1938 opening for a theater on the site of the Alvin would flatly contradict the 1940 item in Boxoffice that I cited in an earlier comment, which said that the roof of the fifty-year-old Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh partially collapsed that year.

I’m not sure how much of the 1941 theater building was new. The fact that the archives uses the word “alterations” suggests that at least part of the old structure must have survived. As only the auditorium roof had collapsed, it’s possible that only the auditorium interior was completely rebuilt, and the remainder of the structure was merely remodeled. The original walls of the auditorium might have been retained, as was often the case with theater rebuilding projects.

A 1900 biographical sketch of actor, playwright, and theatrical manager Charles Lindley Davis said that he built the Alvin Theatre in 1891. It was named for the title character in a play he wrote, produced, and starred in, “Alvin Joslin.”

The Alvin Theatre was listed in the 1897 edition of Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide as one of four major theaters in Pittsburgh. Cahn gave the seating capcity as 2000, so it was a bit smaller than the Harris. Most likely, Eberson’s design incorporated some or all of the Alvin’s large stage into the rebuilt auditorium (Cahn said the stage was 48 feet deep from the footlights to the back wall.)

B.F. Keith bought the Alvin Theatre in 1900 and made it part of his vaudeville circuit, according to Lynn Conner’s book “Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater” (Google Books preview.) Conner also says that the house was renamed the Shubert Alvin Theatre in 1920, and became the Harris Alvin Theatre in 1934.

An advertisement for Philadelphia building contractors R.C. Ballinger & Co. in a 1907 edition of Sweet’s Catalog of Building Construction listed the Alvin Theatre among the projects the company had built, and said that the house was designed by an Indianapolis architectural firm called Reed Brothers. I’ve been unable to find any other references to that firm on the Internet. This biography of Indiana, Pennsylvania, architect Thomas R. Harley, who also operates the local Indiana Theater, says that at Carnegie-Mellon University he wrote his master’s thesis on the Alvin Theatre. Maybe he found out who the Reed Brothers were. Unfortunately, his thesis is not available on the Internet.

atmos
atmos on May 10, 2010 at 2:41 am

According to information from THEATRE CATALOG 1948/49 the JP HARRIS Theatre was built on the site of the old Alvin Theatre.It opened in 1938 and the architects were John and Drew Eberson.

BruceVerish
BruceVerish on January 17, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Friday The 13th was the last movie there.

Cliff Carson
Cliff Carson on July 10, 2009 at 3:23 am

My parents were divorced and my father was the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We went to see JAWS there. The theater was a MOB scene. I also remember seeing THE THREE MUSKETEERS there too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWXjFHqc7gc

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm

This house was called the Harris-Alvin Theatre in many Boxoffice Magazine items as far back as 1935. Contrary to what Ed Blank was told (comment of May 28, 2008, above), the Alvin was apparently not destroyed by a fire. Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of November 16, 1940, has the real story.

It says that a 100 foot by 40 foot section of the roof of the theater had collapsed the previous Tuesday evening (November 14), and four people were injured in the consequent scramble for the exits. The roof had been leaking and bits of plaster falling for an hour before the collapse, so attendants had moved patrons from the balcony and the front section of the orchestra floor into dry seats protected by the overhang of the balcony. Fortunately, the balcony itself did not collapse, and no one was killed.

The building had been inspected less than two weeks earlier, and had passed. The collapse was later attributed to dry rot in the fifty year old wooden beams supporting the roof. The Alvin had undergone an extensive renovation in 1935, and the balcony had been retrofitted with steel support beams at that time, which was probably what prevented its collapse onto the estimated 175 patrons seated under it. Had the roof also been retrofitted in 1935, the disaster would probably not have happened.

I can’t find any information about whether the Alvin was partly salvaged or had to be demolished and replaced with a new building, but a later Boxoffice article about the event, in the December 7, 1940, issue, said that the house was being rebuilt and was expected to open within a few months. Neither can I find an exact reopening date, but a Boxoffice article from July 17, 1943, about the demolition of another Harris house, mentioned in passing that the circuit’s flagship, the J.P. Harris Theatre, was located on the site of the Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh.

bbriley
bbriley on September 23, 2008 at 11:00 pm

Hello all! Thought you may be interested in this. According to a large original poster that I have in my Indy collection: The Stanley & Gateway Theatres, Downtown, PGH, hosted a Live Closed-circuit telecast of the Indy 500 on Memorial Day, May 30th, 1968.
1968 Indy poster

edblank
edblank on July 10, 2008 at 9:34 am

LM, Your link worked perfectly for me. I have no idea why some links work for me and some do not, but I appreciate your effort and generosity in doing the transfer into a format I could access.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 9, 2008 at 9:02 pm

I don’t know, Ed. They work for me, so it’s hard to figure out what the problem is.

edblank
edblank on July 9, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Sorry, Ken, but despite your postings being news, I keep getting: “The page cannot be displayed.” No idea what the problem is here.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 9, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Here is a better view of the marquee:
http://tinyurl.com/5lzvqt