Tower Theatre (Los Angeles)

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Tower Theatre
Tower Theatre, Los Angeles.jpg
Exterior of Los Angeles' Tower Theatre, 2017
Former namesNewsreel Theater, Music Hall Downtown
Address800 S. Broadway
LocationLos Angeles, California
Coordinates34°02′36″N 118°15′16″W / 34.043375°N 118.254444°W / 34.043375; -118.254444Coordinates: 34°02′36″N 118°15′16″W / 34.043375°N 118.254444°W / 34.043375; -118.254444
OwnerBroadway Theater Group
TypeMovie theatre
OpenedOctober 12, 1927 (1927-10-12)
ArchitectS. Charles Lee
Architectural style(s)Baroque Revival
Reference no.450[1]

The Tower Theatre, at 802 S. Broadway, is a historic movie theater that opened in 1927[2] in the Broadway Theater District of Downtown Los Angeles.


The Tower Theatre, at South Broadway and West Eighth Street, was commissioned by H.L. Gumbiner.[3] He would also build the Los Angeles Theatre in 1931.

The Tower was the first theater designed by architect S. Charles Lee.[2] Seating 900 on a tiny site (50 feet wide by 153 feet long[4]), replacing the 650-seat 1911 Garrick Theatre[5], it was designed in powerful Baroque Revival style with innovative French, Spanish, Moorish, and Italian elements all executed in terra-cotta.[2] Its interior was modeled after the Paris Opera House.[3] Its exterior features a prominent clock tower, the very top of which was removed after an earthquake.[6]

The Tower was the first film house in Los Angeles to be wired for talking pictures[7], and it was the location of the sneak preview[8] and Los Angeles premiere[3] of Warner Bros.' revolutionary part-talking The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson. It was the first theater in Los Angeles to be air conditioned.[3]

It opened in 1927 with the silent film The Gingham Girl starring Lois Wilson and George K. Arthur.[7]

For a while during the early 1950s, the name was changed to the Newsreel Theater.[9]

Use as a filming location[edit]

The Tower Theatre's exterior and/or interior can be seen in the following films and TV series:

Landmark status[edit]

The Tower Theatre has been declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, HCM #450, by the Office of Historic Resources, Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles.[1]

Current use[edit]

As with many other historic theaters in Downtown Los Angeles, though largely intact, the theater was abandoned for many years because of migration of cinema attendance to Hollywood Boulevard and other Los Angeles locations. Over the years, its lobby has been leased to various vendors, and the auditorium has been used by the Living Faith Evangelical Church.[2]

Potential future use[edit]

In November 2015, the website DTLA Rising reported "insider info" that Apple Inc was interested in leasing the Tower for a retail store.[11] Six months later, The Los Angeles Business Journal reported that Apple were "in the process of securing a lease".[12] On August 2, 2018, The Los Angeles Times reported that Apple was submitting plans for the renovation of the building. The company also released an artist's rendering of the converted space.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Tower Theater, HCM #450, in Downtown Los Angeles". Office of Historic Resources, Dept. of Planning, City of Los Angeles. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Lord, Rosemary (2002). Los Angeles: Then and Now. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 1-57145-794-1.
  3. ^ a b c d Kaplan, Sam Hall (1989), L.A. Follies: A Critical Look at Growth Politics & Architecture, Santa Monica, CA: Cityscape Press, p. 199, ISBN 0-9622007-0-0
  4. ^ "ZIMAS". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  5. ^ "Tower Theatre - Historic Los Angeles Theatres - Downtown". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  6. ^ Counter, B. "Los Angeles Theatres: Tower Theatre: recent exterior views". Los Angeles Theatres. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  7. ^ a b "Tower Theatre". Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  8. ^ a b "Tower Theatre Official Site". Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  9. ^ Photo of Tower Theater, 1951, with "Newsreel" on marquee, USC Digital Library
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Rumors: Apple Store Taking Over Historic Tower Theatre in Downtown LA". DTLA Rising with Brigham Yen. 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  12. ^ "Apple Nabs Retail Space in Downtown Los Angeles | Los Angeles Business Journal". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  13. ^ "At the historic downtown L.A. Tower Theatre, Apple plans a store and event space unlike any other | Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2018-08-02.

External links[edit]