broadway theatre district
LA Theatres

Tower Theatre: Broadway Theatre District

Broadway theatre district

The Tower Theatre is one of the many historic theatres in the Downtown Broadway Theatre District.  It has also been the Newsreel Theatre and the Music Hall Downtown.  Located at 802 S. Broadway it first opened in 1927 and today is a designated Los Angeles Historic Cultural Landmark.

The Tower Theatre was built in the Baroque Revival style with its interior modeled after the Paris Opera House.  It was the first theater designed by architect S. Charles Lee and it was built to replace the 600 seat Garrick Theatre that was built in 1911.  Its original architecture remains largely intact save for the uppermost portion of the clock tower, for which it was named, that was removed after an earthquake damaged it. 

Significant about the Tower is that it was the first theatre to be wired for sound, or as it was then called “talking pictures.” Much to the dismay of the Warner Brothers who had hoped their own Warner Pacific Theater would be ready in time for the premier of the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer, the Tower Theatre became the venue for the Los Angeles premier or the groundbreaking movie.  The Tower was also the first theatre in Los Angeles to be air conditioned.

Not only has the Tower Theatre been used to show movies, it has made its share of appearances in movies too.  It is seen in: The Omega Man, The Mambo Kings, Last Action Hero, Fight Club, Coyote Ugly, Mulholland Drive, The Prestige, Transformers, and Twin Peaks.

Like most of the theatres downtown, the Tower Theatre was abandoned for years as the cinema had moved out to Hollywood Blvd.  Unlike the others, it has not found new life as a theatre, dance, or performing arts venue.  It currently leases the space for private events and filming.  There was talk of Apple taking over the lease for a downtown store, similar to what Urban Outfitters did with the neighboring Rialto Theatre, but this has yet to materialize.

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