DTLA THEATRE RESEARCH
An Introduction to Downtown Los Angeles Broadway Theatres
As the rise of film began, the early 1900s was a time when theatres constantly filled with people. People went there to listen to music, watch vaudeville shows, operas, and films. Theatres were an escape from reality, where people of all races and backgrounds were able to enjoy an unforgettable experience. These theatres were highly decorated in different styles to remove the audience from reality and to provide the people with an experience where nothing but the enjoyment of entertainment mattered. Each theatre had its own unique style and themes based off of different cultures and time periods. One of the most well known was Broadway street in Downtown Los Angeles. On this street alone there were 12 theatres where many people frequented during the early 1900s. However, as time went by, theatres became less and less popular. Soon many of these theatres, as well as others in the surrounding area, became new retail shops, parking lots, and other venues for performances. Although many were remodeled and repurposed, there are still several theatres standing today and many records that uphold their existence.
Project Focus and Questions
The purpose of this project is to gain a better understanding of the architectural ornamentation and design of the Los Angeles theatres. The project will begin by analyzing the ornamentation catalogs for architects during the early 1900s when many theatres were being built. By comparing and contrasting the same styles and themes between different books and catalogs, perhaps, we can understand a little more about where their theatre ornamentation designs come from and styles they choose from. Furthermore, this project will attempt to appreciate the stylistic intentions of the auditorium by analyzing the ornamentation from an artistic point of view. By doing so, we can try to understand the intentions of the architects and the audience's experience. That being said, the auditorium ornamentation analysis is not an academic analysis, instead they are my opinions and experiences from looking at the theatres.
Jones, Owen. The Grammar of Ornament. DAY GATE AND SON, STREET, LITHOGRAPHERS TO THE QUEEN, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS., 1856.
Dolmetsch, H. The Historic Styles of Ornament. B.T. Batsford, 94 High Holborn, 1995.
WARD, JAMES. HISTORIC ORNAMENT: Treatise on Decorative Art and Architectural Ornament. Chapman and Hall, 1909.