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Get a Glimpse of SF’s Old School Movie Theaters at the SFPL

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San Francisco can be surprising in unfortunate ways sometimes. For an urban center, an amazing amount of historic buildings in the city remain intact. You can walk down some streets in this town and every house on the block is the same one that was there a hundred years ago. For some reason, though, when it comes to old movie theatres, people don’t really seem to get all choked up with same emotion they have for, say the Painted Ladies. It must be the enduring charm of those adorable Tanner girls.

It’s not to say that everyone feels this way, but it is still troubling to remember that there was enough backing in 1963 to demolish one of the most resplendent movie palaces in the world only to be replaced by one of the most repulsive edifices in the city. As a general rule, it should be observed that the construction of bleak monolithic apartment/ business buildings usually mark the beginning of the end for thriving downtown streets.

Not much has really changed since then. Like so many Havisham special order wedding cakes, San Francisco is peppered with the moldering remnants of these former temples of celluloid, quietly awaiting the day they get replaced by another stucco loft nobody can afford.

With the exception of survivors like the beloved Castro, it’s hard to get a peek inside these tombs without risking getting thrown into the clink for trespassing or the possibility of getting crushed by a beaux arts cherub that finally gave way to the weight of its snowcap of bird shit.

So, if you have a weakness for art deco, are a history geek or maybe just woke up feeling like Gloria Swanson, take the streetcar down to the Main Library to Left In the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres. For one night, the Koret Auditorium gets to moonlight as a nickelodeon itself, and display lots of then-and-now photos of these forgotten starlets that are also featured in a just released book of the same name. To make the experience complete, the authors will also be on hand to put pen to paper for all you rabid autograph hounds. Hooray for Hollywood!

Just remember ladies- please remove your hats.

Left In the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 6:30p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
Koret Auditorium
San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch
100 Larkin Street (@ Grove)
[Civic Center/ Tenderloin]

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Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen's early years were spent in a boxcar overlooking downtown Los Angeles. From there he moved around the state with his family before settling under the warm blanket of smog that covers suburban Southern California. Moving around led to his inability to stay in one place for very long, but San Francisco has been reeling him back in with its siren song since 1999.
By trade he pours booze, but likes to think he can write and does so occasionally for the SF Bay Guardian, Bold Italic and 7x7. He also likes to enjoy time spent in old eateries, bars and businesses that, by most standards, would have been condemned a long time ago.