Apple takes over DTLA’s historic Tower Theatre after decades of vacancy

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Downtown Los Angeles’ Broadway Theater District includes 12 classic movie palaces built between 1910 and 1931, and the area was able to seat more than 15,000 moviegoers during its prime. 

But most of these venues have been abandoned or taken over by the retail and tech sectors.

The latest: The historic Tower Theatre was rebranded as Apple Tower Theatre on June 24, after shutting off its lights in 1988, save for a few isolated events.

“It’s really fascinating because it's bringing together the clean lines of Apple technology with this very richly decorated interior and exterior of the Tower Theatre,” says Frances Anderton, who used to host KCRW’s “Design and Architecture.” 

Architecture and design critic Frances Anderton stands in front of the Apple Tower Theatre. Photo by Steve Chiotakis/KCRW.

The LA Conservancy, the Office of Historic Resources, and the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation are preservationist organizations that played a key role in maintaining the historic elements of the building through the renovations.

They reinstated its clock tower and other classic features. However, some of those features have received modern embellishments. For instance, the Apple logo rests above the now-illuminated long-standing “Tower” lettering on the exterior.

Whether you’re drawn to the Apple Tower Theatre to see its historical significance or fix your cracked iPhone, the building will continue to mark the DTLA skyline as it has for the past near-century — with some additional neon lights and Apple insignias.

Tower Theatre was the first theater in Los Angeles wired for films with sound. Photo courtesy of Apple.