With its nearly 6,000 seats and multi-tiered balconies, the Roxy Theatre was the showplace of New York City and of the nation.
Construction began on March 22, 1926 and it opened on March 11, 1927 with Gloria Swanson in “The Loves of Sonya”.
It was designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager of Chicago (who also designed New York’s Beacon Theatre), with interior decoration by Harold W. Rambusch of New York.
Its rather modest entrance at the corner of the Taft Hotel building disguised one of the most cavernous lobbies ever built and a magnificent auditorium that has lived on in its patrons’ imagination.
Whatever adjectives can be used for the Roxy Theatre, they all fail to signify the theatre’s achievement.
Sadly, the decline in attendance that had begun in the 1950’s spilled over into the early-1960’s and the Roxy Theatre closed with Dirk Bogarde in “The Wind Cannot Read” which began its run on March 9, 1960.
Despite numerous protests, it was razed in 1961. In its place sits a nondescript and unremarkable office building.
The neighboring Taft Hotel survives to this day (now the Michangelo Hotel) and is the only evidence that this epic structure was ever here. A TGI Friday’s restaurant occupies the theatres’ original entrance.
The legacy of the Roxy Theatre is almost as impressive as the theater itself once was.
The name ‘Roxy’ has since adorned movie theaters, nightclubs, restaurants and a host of other establishments around the world all attempting to give to their patrons what Roxy always brought to its own: entertainment.
The end of the Roxy Theatre signified the beginning of the end for thousands of movie palaces across the country.
With its destruction, New York City began to destroy its past for urban renewal and the city, and movie palaces, have never been the same.
One of the Underground Tunnels being used for an Air Raid Drill in 1958.
Are the Soviets overhead?
While the rest of the country was forced to go dry, underneath Downtown Los Angeles the party never stopped.
Despite prohibition laws, 11 miles of service tunnels became passageways to basement speakeasies with innocuous fronts above ground.
Patrons were able to move about under the city, boozing it up without a care in the world, while the Mayor’s office ran the supply of hootch.
King Eddy Saloon, an establishment that has been alive and kicking on 5th and Main since the 1900s, hid in plain sight fronting as a piano store.
Luckily, local officials took no issue with King Eddy’s sudden interest in music, and the business not only survived, but prospered.
Now an official saloon once more, its basement still remains part of the tunnel system, littered with crumbling brick lines and graffiti murals.
King Eddy Saloon.
Aside from the service tunnels, there are also abandoned subway and equestrian tunnels from the days before personal vehicles began clogging up LA’s city streets.
There are stories of these tunnels being used by police to transport prisoners, bank security to move large sums of cash safely, and both coroners and mobsters to store bodies.
Now they are mostly closed off, but some are still accessible and are used as film locations, easy shortcuts by city employees between buildings, and a place for runners to train on the rare occasion of bad weather.
To explore the former highway of the LA underground, you must slip behind the Hall of Records on Temple Street and locate an easy-to-miss elevator.
You’ll be transported down into a subterranean passage filled with mysterious street art, rusted machinery, and iron gates that limit your exploration to areas deemed earthquake safe. Officially, the tunnels are closed to the public.
From lighting a real candle on the branch of an indoor Christmas tree, to a well-dressed family singing carols on a stairwell in the home, this lovely collection of nostalgic photos reveal how children from a bygone era celebrated the festive season.
A little girl and her Saint Bernard deliver a present at Christmas, circa 1910s.
Children carrying holly and mistletoe, London, December 1915.