Art Deco Cinemas,
Picture Palaces and Movie Theaters

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Radio City New YorkRadio City Music Hall New York. Photo by Doug Gelbert

Old Art Deco cinemas are probably the most enduring type of Art Deco buildings we still have.  Every city and town seems to have a faded old theater to remind us of the age of the silent movie and the first talkies. Though few are still used as movie houses now, and sadly a lot of them are empty and waiting to fall down.

More movies were made in the 1920s and 1930s than at any other time in history. 

By 1920, more than 20,000 movie palaces had been built in the USA, as the movies were the most popular form of entertainment.  In New York, the Roxy theater was built in 1927 to accommodate 6,200 film-goers.  It was the greatest movie theater in the world, until the Radio City Music Hall opened in 1932.  

The escapism of the movies appealed to everyone, and crowds of swooning women would gather outside the movies of Rudolph Valentino.  The glamour of stars such as Clara Bow and Greta Garbo inspired flapper fashion, the screen goddess look and even the way girls wore their makeup. 

Greta Garbo as Mata Hari, 1931Mata Hari - Greta Garbo - 1931. Buy as a Poster

Many Art Deco Cinemas Need Restoration

Sadly many of the old Art Deco theaters are in a sorry state nowadays.  Sydney where I live has a few.  The Hayden Orpheum at Cremorne is a wonderful example and is in fabulous condition. 

Here are a few photos of it, inside and out:

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
Art Deco Chandelier - Hayden Orpheum
Art Deco Light
Art Deco Exit Sign

Gorgeous Art Deco font in the Exit Sign. Ceilings with amazing chandeliers.  Stunning Art Deco Statue in the Lobby. 

Others are not in such good condition, - at least the Collaroy Cinema on Sydney's Northern Beaches is still used as a picture house, though it is in dire need of a coat of paint. Perhaps this page can help celebrate these lovely old buildings and encourage those who can to renovate them and keep them for future generations to enjoy. 

Collaroy Cinema, Northern Beaches, Sydney

So let's see if we can find as many forgotten and not so forgotten Art Deco picture palaces around the world and share them on these pages.

Here's another one from me to get us started. 

Art Deco Cinema Port Macquarie AustraliaRitz Cinema, Port Macquarie, Australia

Stories from other visitors to Decolish.....

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Clintonia Theater, Clinton Iowa 
Art Deco Theatre Mystery I own this architect's drawing of the Clintonia theater in Clinton, Iowa. I'm hoping to find out more information about it, …

The Cinelandia 
I am always on the lookout to photograph relics of faded grandeur, and art deco buildings certainly fit into this category. While exploring the Caribbean …

Hayden Orpheum Picture Place (Cremorne) 
Hi Lesley, Here's a link to the Hayden Orpheum Picture Place in Cremorne, Sydney: It's a beautiful old Art Deco theatre, …

Daytona Beach Deco: Kress Building Restored 
This building on the Intracoastal Waterway is across the street from a park and easy for an interested tourist to find. At first I thought it was a …

> > Art Deco Cinemas

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