If you think that it was just a movie theater, and what is the excitement about, you can be excused. But starting a few years ago I became interested in classic Hollywood.
There was a time when movies were for Americans the most popular form of entertainment. And during the silent film era, the most grand of the movie theaters had orchestras accompanying the film.
Starting in the 1920s, some magnificent movie palaces were built with seating for 3,000 people – and even more.
Sadly most through the years met the wrecking ball and there are but a handful left. The Paramount Theater, built by its theater division, Paramount-Publix (the production companies used to own their own theaters) – this magnificent theater was finished in 1931, right in the throes of the Great Depression. Within a few years because of the economy, it was sold to Fox who kept the name.
If it weren’t for the Oakland Symphony who bought it in the early 70s, this theater would probably be gone, too. It is currently owned by the city of Oakland, and it is rented out for events.
The amazing thing about this theater is that it has been restored to its glory, looking almost exactly as it did during its opening in 1931. Even 80% of its furniture is original, because for years it was so worthless that it wasn’t worth selling.
About a dozen times a year they show classic movies with only a $5 admission fee. Seeing this I felt that it would be worth it to drive there just for the grand experience.
The curator told me that the Fox Theater in Atlanta is similarly spectacular.
Anyway, here’s my write up of the tour. Unfortunately I could not show you the cavernous room with 3,000 seats as it was too dark for decent photography. But here is their website for some more pictures and information.