The Tampa Theater - Page 2


The Tampa Theatre was tremendously popular when it was built in 1926; it was one of America's most elaborate movie palaces. Never before did the common Tampan have access to such opulence, and on a scale never before imagined. For 10 cents, one could escape into a fantasyland for two hours, see first class entertainment, and be treated like royalty by uniformed ushers and attendants.  The theatre was the first commercial building in Tampa to offer air conditioning.


Immediately after entering the front doors, you pass through this area.  The staircase to the right is one of two located on either side of the lobby.


By the end of the 1920s, over 90 million Americans were going to the movies every week. The Tampa remained a jewel in the crown of Tampa 's cultural landscape into the 1950s. People grew up, sneaked their first kiss in the balcony, watched the weekly newsreels, and celebrated life week after week by coming back to the Tampa.



The ornate tile floor at the entry





The concessions stand in the lobby, 2004 and 1947


Staircase to the balcony

Ceiling over staircase


In the 1960s and 70s, times began to change.  America's move to the suburbs was having a damaging effect on downtown business districts across the country, and Tampa was no different. Hardest hit were the downtown movie palaces. Audiences dwindled and costs rose. Many of our nation's finest movie palaces were quickly demolished before anyone noticed because the land beneath them became more valuable than the theatre operation. In 1973, the Tampa Theatre faced the same fate.

View of balcony from staircase



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