Why the fight to preserve Bay Area movie theaters has become cultural history versus new housing

Why the fight to preserve Bay Area movie theaters has become cultural history versus new housing

A Save United Artists Theater Berkeley group stands in front of the United Artists Theater in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. The group is trying to save the historic theater from demolition for a housing development. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

In the golden age of California movie palaces, these sprawling theaters—with their lavish art deco interiors, towering facades, and glittering marquees—were designed to make guests feel like royalty.

Thousands dressed up to go to the movies during the 1930s, often several times a week, lining up around the block to see the latest pictures. Theaters were temples, designed to feel timeless – proof that the cinema was and always would be the pinnacle of entertainment.

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