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The History — and Significance — of Hollywood’s Theatre Row

Theatre Row in Hollywood is the name of the mile-long stretch of movie theaters in Hollywood, California. One of the densest and historically significant collections of theaters to exist, these locations have been important factors in the film industry. Theatre Row has been the home to some of the most popular films in California, and the streets were filled with diverse audiences looking to catch some of the most popular Hollywood movies. Theatre Row still runs strong as a symbol of the culture and growth of the Los Angeles area and is commonly frequented by tourists and residents.

The Venues on Theatre Row

Theatre Row consists of about 15 theaters, surrounded by El Centro and McCadden Place on Santa Monica Boulevard, including:

  • ART Works
  • Celebration Theatre
  • Elephant and Lillian Theatres
  • Hudson Theatres
  • McCadden Place Theatre
  • The Village at Ed Gould Plaza
  • The Lounge Theatre
  • The Complex Theatres
  • Momentum Theatre Group
  • National Comedy Theatre
  • The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre
  • Open Fist Theatre
  • El Centro Theatre
  • Sacred Fools Theatre Company
  • Studio C Artists

The History of the Theaters

Before there were Hollywood studios and the reputation as a movie palace, Los Angeles’ movie scene consisted of radio shows and talent shows and lacked stability. Theatre Row created the Hollywood we know today and established it as a cultural paradise. In 1910, as people began rapidly expanding to the west coast, the film industry began to take over LA. In 1922, the first theater opened — The Egyptian — and began Hollywood’s run as a dominant force in the industry. 

Elephant and Lillian Theatres have been home to local and world premieres to outline artists all around the United States and other parts of the world. Hudson Theatres host shows that have been running for decades, and El Centro Theatre, constructed in 1910, hosted shows in the 1910s before turning into a garage. It was then transformed into the Circle Theatre, where UCLA drama students would go to hone their skills. For 42 years, The Complex Theatre has provided shows for people of all ages and is one of the favorites on Theatre Row. 

By day, Theatre Row was traversed by residents to get a glimpse into what their nighttime draw will be. Students practiced their skills, and the area united artists from all around looking to display their brilliance on the big stage. It wasn’t a major motion picture, but Theatre Row offered a huge opportunity for anyone looking for that caliber of entertainment.

By night, the city was bustling with people going to shows, coming to shows, and displaying their art all around. Entertainment venues were the main draw, but other places opened up to provide more business along the street over time. Over these long, fascinating nights, great talented actors were nourished into stars.

A Cultural Mecca

The city of Los Angeles officially marked Hollywood Theatre Row as a cultural icon by placing signs around the area, and they did it for a reason. Swarms of talented performers populated the streets of Theatre Row, and it was responsible for giving rise to multiple actors and drawing large crowds every night to create the atmosphere that we know today. 

Small theaters were scrapping at a chance to get an opportunity to display talent, and talent was scrapping at a chance to cultivate their skills. It was truly a unique experience, a push-pull that slowly grew the community while creating a bond of go-getters with artistic spirits and dreams. By the 80s, Theatre Row was the place to be, and the persona of the individuals in the area created the identity of Hollywood, helping it grow to where it is today.

Today’s Theatre Row

Theatre Row gave name to plenty of popular names you know today, including George Clooney, Chris Pine, and Jack Black, to name a few. It still holds significance as lines of people pile up at 7 pm waiting for theater hosts to let them into their highly anticipated shows. Designers, producers, and actors all still congregate, looking to show their talents off to the world. Venue owners all collaborate, focusing on furthering the ecosystem’s growth without consuming each other’s business in the process. 

In some ways, Theatre Row is still the same as it ever was, a bustling community focused on fostering growth, culture, entertainment, and expanding the careers of the most talented LA has to offer. It may be under different circumstances, but Theatre Row continues to thrive, even as the world changes around it.

Explore Theatre Row With Classic Experiences

Theatre Row is a fascinating expression of culture and history and is a can’t-miss area — explore this historical location with Classic Experiences! We are more than just a tour, providing an experience commensurate with the significance of this stretch of history. Contact us to learn about our tours inside Los Angeles or how our private tours of Los Angeles can help you enjoy all there is — and was — to offer in Hollywood’s Theatre Row.

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