The Castro Theatre is one of the few neighborhood movie palaces which managed to escape the ravages of time.
As recently as the 1970s, every Bay Area neighborhood could boast a movie palace. The Castro was one of the more over-the-top ornate ones, and perhaps only by chance, it survived. The Crown, the New Mission, the Grand, the Tower, the El Capitan and the York were all nearby in the Mission, but none were as grand as the Castro. Downtown and in other districts were the Fox, the St. Francis, the Strand, the Haight, the Pagoda Palace, the Royal, the Alhambra, the Alexandria, the Avenue ... too many to remember! But nobody had to go far to see a movie.
Eureka Valley was once an average, working-class, Irish neighborhood. Castro Street was lined with banks, groceries, bakeries, butcher shops, fruit and vegetable stores, cleaners, shoe repair shops, barbers, and quite a few bars. The old Safeway store, a tiny one with only five aisles was near 18th. Streetcars were constantly entering and leaving the Twin Peaks tunnel.
The original Castro Theatre was a much smaller affair, built in 1908, at 479 Castro -- the building still stands today, as another beloved neighborhood institution -- Cliff's Variety.
The current Castro Theatre was opened in 1922, and has been lovingly restored to much of the original splendor. Here is some information on the history of the theatre, along with photos:
The home page of this site will also provide film schedules and other useful information.