Film has always been an important part of Los Angeles’ narrative and the culture around film viewing is equally fascinating. When we observe the history of Los Angeles’ Broadway district, we notice how these theatres were once feats of architectural brilliance and how both the structures themselves and their symbolism has evolved and the city has changed. The amount of attention and care that is given to these theatres is remarkable and equally frustrating is the fact that there was a whole alternative program brewing in the sideline that went unnoticed. The immigrant experience is often neglected when constructing a mainstream narrative and that seems to be the case for LA’s Broadway district as well. In our project we hope to look into the movie watching experience of the Mexican, Japanese and Chinese immigrants who were residing in the city and finding and creating their own sense of entertainment and community.
Our research comprises of two elements
- A Timeline that shows when the theatres were in business and what function they served
- The Map that tracks 15 theatres from the early 1900s to the 1950s
Our Interactive Timeline
Link to interactive timeline
Our Interactive Map
Map of all the Minority theatres in the Los Angeles Area that we focused on
Link to the interactive map
The challenge with exploring an often overlooked part of history is acquiring significant information about it. Throughout this project we have had a great deal of difficulty trying to identify the sources that would help us paint an accurate picture of this alternative programming. We have scoured newspaper articles of the time that barely mention any of the Mexican, Japanese or Chinese theatres or what kind of movies that they would have played. We have found most information through academic articles that discuss this time period, but while those provide a substantial amount of information about the Mexican experience, the Asian perspective is even more elusive.