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Broadway Historic Theatre District

Broadway Historic Theatre District

First Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: 9th May 1979

Listing Updated on the National Register of Historic Places: 12th April 2002

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


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

Detailed Information

Broadway Theatre District in 2016
Broadway Theatre District in 2016

The historic 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 movie theatres in the world, with theatres ranging in capacity from several thousand down to 900. The largest theatre by seating capacity was the State Theatre at 2,404 seats, and the smallest was the Tower Theatre at 906 seats.

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”.

Orpheum Theatre Marquee
Orpheum Theatre Marquee

In the 1950s and 1960s the downtown area entered a general decline as a result of many people moving out to the suburbs and the rise of television. Local neighborhood theatres became much more popular.

Many of the Broadway theatres turned to exhibiting newsreels, Spanish language / Spanish-dubbed films and entertainment, soft porn, or any combination of the above. Had it not been for the activities of the Hispanic community many of the Broadway theatres would probably not have survived.

The area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places Link opens in new window in May 1979 as the Broadway Theater & Commercial District, a six-block stretch of Broadway from 3rd St to 9th St.

Orpheum Theatre, 2015
Orpheum Theatre, 2015

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

Palace Theatre, 2017
Palace Theatre, 2017

In the late 1980s Broadway started to receive some preservation attention. In 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 2002 the listing on the National Register was amended to extend the historic district by approximately half a block in both directions, resulting in the district stretching from approximately 250 Broadway at the north end (between 2nd and 3rd Streets) to 950 Broadway at the south end (between 9th St and Olympic Boulevard). The boundary increase brought the United Artists Theatre, now The Theatre at Ace Hotel, into the historic district.

In 2008, then 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.

Los Angeles Theatre, 2018
Los Angeles Theatre, 2018

One of the key elements of the Bringing Back Broadway 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 continued annually, with an area of eight by three blocks closed to traffic for the day, and permitted access to over half of the historic Broadway theatres, some of which were not generally accessible to the public.

Attendance at Night On Broadway 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 ending in 2018, the Night On Broadway event continued. The event went on hiatus for 2019 and promised to return in 2020, however the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in no 2020 or 2021 events.

The following theatres participated in the most recent (2018) Night On Broadway:

In early 2019 Langdon Street Capital, who had recently bought the Million Dollar Theatre along with the adjacent Grand Central Market Link opens in new window, submitted an application to nominate the Million Dollar Theatre for Historic-Cultural Monument status with the City of Los Angeles.

Million Dollar Theatre, 2017
Million Dollar Theatre, 2017

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Link opens in new window helped facilitate the nomination, and in early July 2019 the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in favor of granting the theatre Historic-Cultural Monument status. As of 2021 and following the Covid-19 pandemic, the theatre is used as both a church and as a regular location for screening movies.

The Tower Theatre was under renovation for several years however reopened in June 2021 as a flagship Apple store: the Apple Tower Theatre Link opens in new window. The renovation included a seismic retrofit of the entire building, a faithful recreation of the theatre’s original 1927 marquee on Broadway, a recreated ornamental cap at the top of the clock tower (removed after severe damage caused by the Sylmar / San Fernando Earthquake in February 1971), and an accessible area dedicated to the renovation project highlighting techniques used in the restoration and replication processes.

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. Since mid-2021 the State Theatre has been re-leased to the church group Cathedral of Faith, who had previously vacated the theatre in early 2018 after a twenty-year lease.

The Orpheum, The 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 Rialto Theatre was adaptively reused as anUrban Outfitters store which opened in December 2013.


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 our YouTube channel:

Listed/Landmark Building Status

How do I visit the Broadway Historic Theatre District?

** Due to the Covid-19 pandemic tours are on hiatus until further notice **

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.


Upcoming Special Events
** CANCELED ** Broadway Historic Theatre and Commercial District Walking Tour

** CANCELED ** Broadway Historic Theatre and Commercial District Walking Tour (10am)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

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: either the Los Angeles Theatre or the Palace Theatre, The Theatre at 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).

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window

Further Reading

Online

Photos of the Broadway Historic Theatre District

Jump to Photo Section:

  1. Night On Broadway 2015
  2. Night On Broadway 2016
  3. Night On Broadway 2017
  4. Night On Broadway 2018
Night On Broadway 2015
Night On Broadway 2016
Night On Broadway 2017
Night On Broadway 2018


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