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LAistory: Carthay Circle Theater

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All cities have the things they’ve plowed under. In Los Angeles, we still have whole neighborhoods that are named after things that aren’t there anymore. The Carthay area is named after a legendary movie palace, the Carthay Circle Theater. Other areas are also named after movie theaters, like Picfair, but Carthay Circle was considered on par with Grauman’s Chinese and second to none.

A first run, road-show house, Carthay Circle was built in 1926, in the Spanish Baroque style. Designed by A. Dwight Gibbs, its fifteen hundred seats arranged in a circle with space only for the screen. It was built to amaze, with its grand tower, fine tile work and crystal chandeliers. At night, it featured an enormous neon sign and the gorgeous arches of the building itself were lit with floodlights until it looked like something out of a fairy tale. Even the ceiling was a beautiful blue, black and gold circle with a many-spoked star in the center.