The primary purpose of this website is to compile and present information that we found about the Tower and Los Angeles Theaters. In the process of gathering and curating these artifacts, we were able to draw connections and make inferences based on the hours of categorizing, interpreting, and examining these digital objects that we did. Here are some of them:
Among the drawings of the plans of the Tower Theater we found some of S. Charles Lee’s original plans for the space. While much of the overall layout remains the same from the earliest plans to their final execution, there are some very noticeable design features and elements that were changed or abandoned during his creative design process.
In this early drawing (above) labeled “Mezzanine Floor Plan,” the lobby of the Tower Theatre is notably located all the way to the corner of the building, rather than in the middle of the north-western wall were it ultimately was build. This positioning precludes the possibility of a symmetrical staircase that would lead moviegoers to the mezzanine and then the balcony seats, as one leg of the stairway must turn at a right angle when it hits the edge of the building. It also means that only one side of the lobby would have had an upper walkway, while the other was most likely just a decorated wall running floor to ceiling. Unfortunately we were unable to find the first floor plans that corresponded to this specific design, so we do not know exactly what the lobby would have looked like or it’s relation to the first floor seating area. We also do not know the initial placement of the two stores that would later flank the theater entryway. This drawing also indicates an office that would have been located under the upper balcony (which must have been relocated to the basement in the final plans) as well as a set of stairs off of the “cross aisle” between the upper and lower balconies that lead both down to the first floor, and up to a “children’s room” (see below).
This drawing is of the lower and upper balcony levels of the Tower Theater, and likely correspond to the outdated plans of the mezzanine discussed above (we would need access to the plans in person to confirm this). As mentioned, there is a stairway in these plans connecting the “cross aisle” to a children’s room (ultimately moved to the basement) situated next to the projector room at the top of the theater. While the lower balcony seems very similar to those of the final plans, the upper balcony contains 13 rows of seats here as opposed to the 5 that made it into the final plan. In these initial drawings, the projector room has been pushed all the way to the back of the theater so that its back wall is flush with the outer wall of the lobby, making the facade of the building facing the street a sheer face. In the final plans, 8 rows of seats have been removed, and the projector room has been moved forward to where those seats were. The space that it had occupied was then partially used for decorative elements on the exterior of the building, which can be seen from the street, next to the clocktower, in the final design.
A next phase in the development of the theater seems to be indicated in the drawing below of the theater’s first floor:
Here (above) the lobby has been moved to be centered on the wall facing Broadway, flanked by two storefronts, as it is in the final plans. The side stairway (on the side closest to 8th Street) which leads up to the “cross aisle” on the balcony and then to the children’s room on the projector level is still present. It is entirely It is noteworthy to point out that the center axis of the lobby and that of the theater do not line up in this version of the Tower theater. This drawing indicates that it is intended for 540 movie patrons on the first floor, and 354 on the balcony, for a total of 894.
The above two plans represent what we believe to be the final stage or design conception before the final draft. Here we see the center axis of the building running through the middle of the lobby AND the theater itself. We also see the removal of stairwell that ran from the first floor to the mezzanine and then to the children’s room. These drawing very closely resemble those of the final plans save a few differences. First, in the first floor plan above, the 8th street theater wall is entirely straight, from the end of the lobby until nearly the front row of seats. In the final plans, the wall juts out about midway through the theater to accommodate 31 more seats. Second, the plans here indicate a ramp connecting the balcony cross aisle to the mezzanine landing at the top of the lobby stairs. In the final plans these are replaced by a much shorter set of stairs.
This set of plans indicates 565 seats on the first floor and 333 balcony seats for a maximum accommodation of 898 moviegoers. Final theaters plans allow for 580 seats on the first floor and 316 in the balcony, for a total of 896 moviegoers. Over these phases of development we see a clear redistribution of seats from the balcony to the first floor. While the location of the projector room is not available to us during each of these phases at this time, it is likely that as rows of seats were removed from the balcony area, that room moved gradually forward until it took the position it finally ended in, positioned behind only 5 rows of seats in the upper balcony, rather than the original 13.