A Sad Farewell, Requiem for a Palace, The Golden Gate Theater

This is the grand Golden Gate Theater of yesteryear. But grandeur fades. Icons wither, some more gracefully than others. The Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles, movie palace of my youth and once proud cornerstone of Whittier Blvd. Eastside culture, does not deserve to be remembered in this recently discovered undignified and disgusting state…

If you hold and cherish any grand memories of our beloved former neighborhood theater,
I pray that you close your eyes and keep those wonderful images intact. For only in our hearts and memories may we keep that lost reality of beauty and respected grace.

The reality of the present stinks. It stinks of lost souls and fresh filth. It oozes, decays and echoes with demented shrieks as you struggle to find lost dreams within it’s repugnant squalor.

There will be no dignified end for the Golden Gate Theater. It will go out like a punk.

The squatters and junkies own it now. Having entered the neglected shell through a violated door, the truth was revealed. This is the state of the theater today…

My first reaction is to blame developers, politicians, owners, the local community and even myself. But the truth is, these are all merely cogs in the big wheels of time and change. Time is the vehicle of evolutionary change. I walk Whittier Boulevard and see how much it has transformed itself over the decades. New generations now dwell here who could care less about what we old timers saw here years ago. And why should they?

Nevertheless, there have been many noble members of the community who have given their time and efforts to saving the Golden Gate Theater.
I only wish we had cultivated a legacy of preservation within our community decades ago. Most families I knew were too busy working and surviving. Unfortunately things remain intact in East Los Angeles not by design, but from inertia.
And it’s not only here, but anywhere else you can imagine, where the bottom line $ shapes the environment.

To conserve, one must first care. But care is fleeting and life goes on here. Except in the depths of hearts and minds where the memories of a lost boulevard remain.

Here lies the ultimate irony. A “Monolith of Mierda“, placed squarely within the theater and upon my cherished memories….This image says it all….

images courtesy of jon alloway and julia solis

This entry was posted in architecture, Blogs, culture, East Los, Eastside, gentrification, history, Identity, Personal, Photos, Uncategorized by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: alguerrero@earthlink.net Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697 www.alguerrero.com Myspace.com/thepuppetsfromhell

18 thoughts on “A Sad Farewell, Requiem for a Palace, The Golden Gate Theater

  1. You failed to mention that after a long, lengthy battle to save the Golden Gate Theater, the developer/owner of the property gained the right to turn it into a CVS store. 🙁

  2. I was surprized to see street sign I lived on this street 1937 to 1941..what memories !!! thank you for all the posting you make so ma
    ny people happy…

  3. When these photos were taken, a pregnant woman was living in the opera box to the left of the stage. Since access is difficult, the baby may have been born there in the meantime. I did hear that the interior was recently cleaned, presumably by CVS. Thanks for posting the historic photo.

  4. there is child abuse

    there is elderly abuse

    but this is theater abuse 🙁

    those in power have failed us.

    i was lucky enough to go inside it way back in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s i can’t remember the year exactly but one of my older brothers took us and at that time it was a religious service- so some type of church was operating it and it looked dingy inside.

  5. I remember when they tried to demolish it in the 80’s they put a stop to it saying”It was a historical building”WTF happened.You can thank our fine Sheriffs department for all the “mice” that took the place over,using and selling dope when they should have been policing the building to put a stop to it.Myself and friends had some of the best time’s of our childhood there.

  6. It’s a shame that it never received the protection like other historical landmarks in downtown L.A. Then again, there probably wasn’t a strong sentiment from the community to seek such preservation. For any one-like me and my siblings-who was lucky enough to have attended it, hold those memories and know that you experienced a real theater, not just a watching a movie.

  7. Just like the Garmar and the Blvd theaters is just something that our children and grand children will never get to enjoy their 1st tub of popcorn,or their 1st kiss

  8. its never too late to do the right thing. how can i help out today? i have organizing experience. we can save this once regal icon of the eastside. please contact me. we can generate a new movement to revitalize east los angeles and preserve sacred places like the golden gate theater

  9. In fact, the LA Historic Theatre Foundation and others were successful in listing the Golden Gate on the National Register of Historic Places and pushed for years to stabilize and revitalize the theatre. The property owner exercised demolition by neglect due to lax code enforcement. However, thanks to LAHTF and the LA Conservancy, CVS has been forced to adapt the Golden Gate in a reversible fashion and actually display the ceiling as well as preserve onsite elements of the historic interior. It will be up to the community to reclaim the theatre and the heritage it represents to so many Angelenos.

  10. AD- I wish my keyboard had an icon for tears, cuz that’s would I would type!! The pinche 24 hr. drive thru Cvs is gonna be uglier than what the vandals did to it, and the minimum wage jobs they are gonna throw at us are even uglier!! More sad is the Chicano Museum/Culture Center that could have been there, is just a lost dream now!!

  11. Vince,Keep your head up because us teamsters have already organized lot’s of there warehouses in many state’s,This is pissing off the the”the The upper Management”.These are Idiot’s that have already spent millions of Dollars to try to soil our reputation.They do not believe in paying anybody more than minimum wage.The rope is getting tighter around their neck.Our County can build a museum which we can force them to build, but it should not be a Chicano Museum because that would not be fair to the Chinese,Russian’s and Jew’s that was more part of the building of ELA than anybody.It should be a Museum of the “Grandfathers of Time” the people who made it what it really is now and how it really started.And remember who you vote in office,remember the people like Gloria Molina and others that stood by and let this happen to monument’s like”OUR” golden gate theater

  12. Al, thanks for posting these photos Jon took. Such a sorry state of affairs. I blame Gloria Molina. As far EastLos is concerned, whatever Gloria wants, Gloria gets, and Gloria just didn’t care to help preserve this treasure.

  13. Andy- Yes, I know the Russians, the Jewish, and many Italians had a huge impact on the early days of East LA, but so did the cavemen, the spanish and the Indians, but as far as I’m concerned they were mostly gone by the time the Chicano Moratorium took place, I’m not saying that’s the whole thing, but it is the whole thing to many!! I know 2 persons were killed, one JEWISH and one CHICANO, It wasn’t the Russians, Jewish, and Italians who were drafted in disproportionate numbers to their population, it was the chicanos, that’s why we deserve a Chicano Museum, not some generalized “Heroes of Time” Museum!! I do know my history trust me!!

  14. Very sad, I always turn my head when I pass by this place just like a pervy man looking at a woman. I wish I would have been able to sneek in there and see this sight, wow a CVS how creative wow, I been taking pictures of this area as well and love the history. CVS aint shit compared to this…..RIP

  15. i think this suck alot of are pissed off, the one that E.L.A. does not need is another store,cvs or whatever.If i had the money i’d do my best to restore it.Maybe put an E.L.A. hall of fame,there’s been alot of famous people come out of E.L.A. Actors,Athletes,Artist,Painters,Writters.E.L.A. has produced many people that are a positive influences in are culture,it a shame that there is no place to show it. it saddens me to see that such a big piece of are history is going to be demolished.They can take that away,but they can’t demolish our memories…………..

  16. My parents and I visited this theatre many times and the last time we was there it was to see The Excorsist.
    (Let me break into my point but this movie screwed me up big time) Thanks.
    I have a side view about these locations we are loosing; there in no benefit to keep them except for nostalgic memories of our childhood. These include, Cliftons on 8th street, the 5, 10 cent store on 1st and chicago, Union Store for men on Broadway, the Pharmacy on the southeast corner of 1st and Soto and the all Nations between 1st and Cesar Chavez, etc. etc. Se me olvido “El Sovaco” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We are a ‘Mouse’ society, we spend more time maneuverig our computer mouse than we spend at the movies, eating out or talking with our kids. We shop, see movies, socialize and have more sex in the computer than ever before. These places all survived due to our need for their services and we paid our hard earned money for this.

    Yes, these memories are beautiful ande truth is memories cost to stay alive but we are not the society that is willing to give up our social networks and be active to save a theathere.

    Don,t blame the crackheads, junkies, businesses, cops or community without including ourselves. This theatre closed due to lack of interest of community and patronage and no other reason.

  17. Yeh, where are all the latino movie star’s? Do something Edward James Olmos, or George Lopez, Oscar De La Hoya you’ve done lot’s for the boxing world, now bring some culture to E.L.A. for the people that care to see movies in a beautiful movie house, i use to see movies there when i was a young girl and i will never forget the beauty i was surrounded by, it was georgous, please, don’t turn it into a CVS we don’t need another liquor store, do you know that right across the street there is a organization that help alcholic’s!

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