Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Old Center City Theatres - Group Participation Time!

Inga Saffron's article in the Inquirer this morning about the Boyd Theater brought back some memories today. If you missed it, you can read the story at the Philly.com site. Most of us remember this place being called the Sameric, both before it became a multiplex and before it's demise. It was a grand place - still is, though without moviegoers and movies - much grander than the sterile boxes that you go to today. Now it sits vacant on Chestnut Street with many hoping that someone will purchase it and save it as is.

I wrote about the South Philly theaters back in May of 2006. That piece is archived here (see the archives list and select May 2006, Going to the Movies...). Let's move a bit farther north now. For those of you forty years of age on up, you'll most likely remember all the movie houses in Center City west of Broad Street that are long gone with the development of skyscrapers like the One and Two Liberty Place complex and others. Many of us spent a lot of time in those theaters. Like so many other things, nothing lasts forever. Now, if you want to see a flick in Center City, your choices are limited to the Ritz Theaters and the Roxy Screening Room. The only place to go for standard fare now for those in South Philly and Center City is the Riverfront on Columbus Blvd.

Doing some mental gymnastics today, I remembered around a dozen of those theaters between Broad Street and 20th, Walnut and Market Streets. And I remembered most - but not all - of their names. So, not being one to pass up on memories or having someone help me refresh those that I've forgotten, you can participate in listing the names of those movie houses. Let's see how many you can name and if y0u can tell me where they were located. No cheating! See if you can do it from freeing up what's in your gray matter. I'll be waiting for your reply. I've named ten of them, I know there were at least a couple more, and I'm wondering if there were some that I had not heard of that you may have. Make it interesting too. Tell us of something fun or interesting that you remember from when you went to the shows.

What's the prize? There is no tangible reward, but you get to share in the memories with me. That should make it worth your while. I'll look forward to your comments.


HB said...

Too many name changes before they died - I can't even remember the other chain that was competing with Sam Eric much less the individual theaters' names. Here is where I remember about a dozen of them being anyhow:

On Market

Stanton (all on Market from 15th west)
Sameric under Holiday Inn 1800 block
Multiplex underground near 19th & Market subway-surface

On 15th
Goldman where Cope/Linder is

On Chestnut
Midtown now Prince
north side of Chesnut turned to Arby's et seq.
thing is now the Teacher's Union Hall
SamEric etc. that is now CVS
Boyd / Eric Multiplex

On Walnut
Eric 3 multiplex on Ritt Square

Brian said...

Thanks HB, that's quite a memory. The other chain was Budco, both that chain and the Eric theaters are now gone.

I forgot about the Eric 3 on the square. The Stanton may pre-date the 60's, I don't remember that one.

HB said...

I'm pretty sure the one where the teachers union now is was called something like Arcadia, and I'm thinking the 2 screen theater underground near the 19th street trolley entrance may have be Budcos. I know I saw Lion in Winter down there when it first came out, and I saw LAwrence of Arabia, properly shown with overture and all, under the Holiday Inn at 18th the first time it was re-released.

As for the Stanton, I only remember being taken there to see Tom Thumb as child, may 1962 or so. The Fox and the Milgram (which we used to call the Migraine) were demolished in the early 70's.

Anonymous said...

As a child we lived for a short time in South Philadelphia. It was the summer of 1960 and I remember paying 25 cents to see Saturday kiddie matinees at the President Theater,around 23rd and Snyder Avenue.
One thing I especially remember how kids would scream,laugh or yell so much that sometimes my ears would hurt,lol.