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Broadway Historic Theatre District

Broadway Historic Theatre District

First Listed on NRHP: 12th September 1978

Listing Updated on NRHP: 28th June 2001

Address: South Broadway, Los Angeles, 90014 Show address in Google Maps (new window)


The Broadway Historic Theatre District in Downtown Los Angeles is the first and largest historic theatre district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With 12 movie palaces located along a seven-block stretch of Broadway, it is the only large concentration of movie palaces left in the United States.

The theatre district runs along South Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. Pre-dating it is the Main Street theatre district where many nickelodeons and small theatres existed at the start of the 20th Century. Many of these theatres switched to movies in the early 20th Century, but the grand movie palaces being built a couple of streets west on Broadway drew the crowds away with their larger screens and opulent surroundings.

By 1931, when Broadway’s last movie palace was built, there was capacity for more than 15,000 patrons nightly. Broadway had the highest concentration of cinemas in the world, with theatres ranging in capacity from several thousand down to 900. Broadway was the hub of LA’s entertainment scene, a place where “screen goddesses and guys in fedoras rubbed elbows with Army nurses and aircraft pioneers”.

In the 1950s and 1960s the area entered a decline with the general move out to suburbs. Local, small theatres became much more popular. Many of the Broadway theatres turned to newsreels, Spanish-dubbed films and entertainment, soft porn, or any combination of the above. Had it not been for the activities of the Hispanic community the Broadway theatres would likely not have survived.

The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 as the six-block stretch of Broadway from 3rd St to 9th St.

With the closure of many theatres in the 1980s, alternative tenants were sought. Churches moved into some spaces (notably the State and United Artists, now the Theatre at Ace Hotel), with other spaces such as the Globe being given over to a swap meet, a fate which almost befell the Tower as well. Some of the theatres also became regular fixtures as locations for movies shooting in Los Angeles.

In the 1980s Broadway started to receive some preservation attention. In 1985 the listing on the National Register of Historic Places was amended to extend the district by approximately half a block in both directions, resulting in the district becoming the stretch of Broadway from approximately 250 Broadway (between 2nd and 3rd Streets) to 950 Broadway (between 9th St and Olympic Boulevard). By 1987 the Los Angeles Conservancy Link opens in new window commenced a program called “Last Remaining Seats” Link opens in new window, in which the old movie palaces were opened each summer to screen classic Hollywood movies. 31 years later, “Last Remaining Seats” is still going strong and regularly selling-out theatres during its summer run.

In 2008, Councilmember Jose Huizar launched a ten-year strategic economic development plan for the revitalization of the historic Broadway corridor in Downtown Los Angeles, called “Bringing Back Broadway” Link opens in new window. One of the key elements of the initiative was the “Night On Broadway” Link opens in new window event, started in 2015 where several blocks of Broadway were closed to traffic for a free arts and music festival. The event continues annually, with eight by three blocks of Downtown Los Angeles closed to traffic for the day, and permits access to over half of the historic Broadway theatres, some of which are not generally accessible to the public. Attendance in 2015 was 35,000, swelling to 60,000 in 2016 and 75,000 in 2017, then ballooning to 250,000 people in 2018. Despite the “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative having ended, the Night On Broadway event continues, and although it went on hiatus for 2019 it promises to return in 2020. The following theatres participated in the most recent (2018) event:

As of mid-2018 the Million Dollar Theatre is leased by cobird Link opens in new window and occasionally hosts events. The Los Angeles, Palace, and State theatres are managed by the Broadway Theatre Group Link opens in new window and are programmed for special events and used for movie/TV location shoots. The Orpheum, Theatre at Ace Hotel and Globe theatres host a healthy variety of events most weeks. The Roxie, Cameo, and Arcade theatres are currently closed but open to re-use proposals. The Tower Theatre is currently being converted into a flagship Apple Store.

Map of the Broadway Theatre District

Map of the Broadway Theatre District Million Dollar Theatre Roxie Theatre Cameo Theatre Arcade Theatre Los Angeles Theatre Palace Theatre Globe Theatre State Theatre Tower Theatre Rialto Theatre Orpheum Theatre The Theatre At Ace Hotel Regent Theater Mayan Theatre Belasco Theatre Metropolitan Theatre Warner Theatre Olympic Theatre

Broadway Theatre District theatres featured on this website

Other Broadway Theatre District theatres

Broadway Theatre District adjacent theatres featured on this website

Video from my YouTube channel:

Listed/Landmark Building Status

How do I visit the Broadway Historic Theatre District?

The Los Angeles Conservancy Link opens in new window runs weekly tours of the Broadway Historic Theatre District. Subject to availability, the tour visits the interiors of one or more of the following: the Los Angeles Theatre, the Theatre at the Ace Hotel (formerly United Artists Theatre), and the Orpheum Theatre.

Access is not guaranteed to any theatres due to events programming and logistics on the day so call ahead for details if you are concerned.

Tours normally run every Saturday at 10am and last approximately 2.5 hours. Tickets $15 ($10 for 17 and under). More info and tickets are available on the Conservancy’s Walking Tour website Link opens in new window.

Further Reading


Photos of the Broadway Historic Theatre District

Night On Broadway 2015

Night On Broadway 2016

Night On Broadway 2017

Night On Broadway 2018

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