Then and Now V: The Valley of Darkened Screens

Roosevelt Theater - 1944


The Mission was once the home of more than a dozen movie theaters.  Many remain in varying states of repair, but the only one I am currently aware of being used is a performance space of any kind is two doors down from me. Seen at the top in 1944, the Roosevelt Theater opened September 22, 1926, until being renamed the York Theater in 1962, closing sometime in the 1990s and becoming the Brava Women’s Theater about 14 years ago.


It is also the namesake for the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor down the street on 24th, whose name always takes newcomers for a loop without the context of the theater as its initial namesake.

Grand Theater 1970


Swinging over to Mission, there are various remnants of what once was a real hub of movie houses that could be found from 16th Street southward. (I am stopping at 24th Street with this post.)


Seen at the top in 1964, the Grand at 2665 Mission is a rare example of modernist  architecture that would be at home in Los Angeles or Miami but is not common in San Francisco.  It opened in 1940 and operated until 1988


Its clean elegant lines deserve a better fate than being a One $ Only store.

New Mission - 1943

New Mission 1964

New Mission 1975IMG_6642

I wrote here about the New Mission Theater at 2550 a couple of weeks ago.  It opened as the Idle House in 1913, became the Mission Theater in 1916 and the New Mission Theater in 1943, operating unit 1993  Above we see it 1943, 1964, 1975 and today.


Its mix of modernist and indigenous architecture make me hope it is saved.

Wigwam 1913

Crown corrected

Cine Latino

Up the street is probably the oldest theater in the Mission.  Opened in 1913 at 2555 Mission as the Wigwam (seen in the top picture the year it opened).  From 1930 to 1947 it served as the Rialto and New Rialto.  In 1947 it became the Crown (seen in 1963 in the middle photo) and finally served as Cine Latino from 1974 to 1990.

Tower Theater corectedIMG_6638

From 1911 to 1941, the Majestic operated at 2465 and later 2457 Mission, becoming the Tower in 1941 and closing sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s.  The top photo is from sometime in the late 1950s.


El Capitan Theater - 1933

El Capitan Theater - 1939


Even as a remnant of its glory days, El Capitan at 2353 Mission operated from 1928 to 1964.  Though one of the most elaborate, it had the shortest life.  It is seen above in 1933, 1939 and today.

El Capitan Theater - aerial view

This 1939 shot shows a premier with a moving billboard coming down Mission.

El Capitan Theater - 1928El Capitan Theater - CeilingEl Capitan - water fountain

These interior shots from 1928 give a sense of the details.


This is what remains of the “interior” today, a parking lot behind the elaborate Mission Street facade.


Part of the building remains, operating as a “hotel”.

El Capitan - 1928


But the glory of its facade’s detail remain and have been a favorite of mine since moving to San Francisco nearly 20 years ago.



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