“I remember walking into those opulent interiors, surrounded by the glory of the Renaissance, or the age of Baroque, and spending two or three hours in the dream world of the movies. When I came out again the sky blazed; the heat bounced off the sidewalk, traffic sounds filled the street, I was back in the hard reality of the Depression.”
Jack Smith, Los Angeles Times Columnist
By the 1930’s, the Broadway District in Los Angeles had the highest concentration of cinemas in the world and was by far the most famous street in the US. The ornamental baroque style theaters were witness to unprecedented growth of an industry and a downtown region. Like every meteoric growth spurt, there came an equally dynamic fall from grace. The new film industry chose to move operations to a more glamorous Hollywood, and the downtown area of Los Angeles started to slide into economic decline. Before long, Downtown Los Angeles found itself in a state of despair and abandoned by its residents. It was deemed a very dangerous place to be, and the luxurious heyday of the baroque theaters were now surrounded by squalor.
The Broadway District has started to regain its life and splendor through the efforts of many who were passionate never to let this glorious area of Downtown Los Angeles be lost to the wrecking ball. In May of 1979, the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is the largest theater district listed on the register. It remains the largest concentration of movie palaces remaining in the US. With that designation in place, groups such as the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Bringing Back Broadway Initiative, the Broadway Theater Group and the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation went to work to revive this glorious area of Downtown Los Angeles. Because of their efforts, Angelenos can now enjoy performances and events in these spectacular venues.
Levitated Broadway is the latest plan to preserve and protect the Broadway District in its original glory, while accommodating the needs of an ever-growing population in Los Angeles. Instead of demolishing some of the old buildings, the plan is to take advantage of space between and on top of the existing structures. This will create new public spaces in the middle of a high-density location, while preserving the integrity and glory of the old district structures and venues.
From the ADG Worksite
Iron lantern at a client’s property
by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting