At its completion in 1923, the Metropolitan Theater marked a major milestone in the growth of downtown Los Angeles’ shopping and theater district, concentrated along Broadway and Hill Street. Financed by theater magnate Sid Grauman and designed by Edwin Bergstrom, the theater and office complex was noted for numerous technological advances in its construction. Its 2000-seat great balcony was supported by a single 127-foot concrete girder, reputed to be the longest ever built. Elevator machinery allowed for the entire front section of the stage to be quickly raised or lowered.
Later renamed the Paramount, the theater was demolished without much ado in the early 1960s to make way for a 35-story office tower, advertised on the building’s upper stories in the top photograph. That tower was never built, and it was not until 1981 that the lot was replaced by the International Jewelry Center, a 16-story building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, primarily leased to jewelry trade offices.
82 years ago: land purchased for downtown’s largest theater [blogdowntown]
1. De Wolfe, Evelyn. “Multifaceted International Jewelry Center nears completion date.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Nov. 1981. J1.
2. Leaf, Edward G. “Four millions spent on unique construction.” Los Angeles Times. 26 Jan. 1923. II9.
3. “Milestone will be passed.” Los Angeles Times. 12 Dec. 1926. C25.
Original photo: Levitt, Charles. “examiner-m3128 – Paramount Building, Hill St., Los Angeles, 1960.” Los Angeles Examiner Prints Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/search/controller/view/examiner-m3128.html.