Location: 933 Taraval Street Street at 19th Avenue, San Francisco, CA (in the Parkside District)
Opened: December 28, 1928
First film: "Red Lights," starring Charles (Buddy) Rogers.
Closed: September 21, 1976, July 1988
After first closing in the 1970s, the Parkside Theatre reopened with a children's daycare school on the ground floor with movie screeings in the evening, the audience relegated solely to the balcony. (Children's toys and play equipment could be seen down below.) The theatre portion closed for good in July of 1988 while the preschool remained. Like the Coliseum Theatre in the Richmond District, the upper floors of the Parkside's building has been renovated into condominiums.
Most people alive today wouldn't recognize the façade of the Parkside Theatre in its opening year. To succeed, movie theaters had to always appear "modern" and many were renovated a number of times to conform to popular architectural styles. The Parkside went through at least two make-overs, the last an unsympathetic renovation in the 1960s that emphasized "Fox" over "Parkside."
Information from Jack Tillmany: "For thirty years, from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s this handsome façade [above] of the Parkside Theatre was the anchor of the Taraval Street shopping district, as this 1959 photo shows. Muni #1003, also seen here, was a fixture on the L-line during most of the same time period, and is preserved today at the California Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction.
"Sadly, in 1965, Fox West Coast decided to make the Parkside a first-run, reserved seat outlet for the then trendy road show attractions, and the embarrassingly ugly marquee with which it played out it final years replaced this one. 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' and 'The Agony and the Ecstasy' were the first two, and the only important films to be shown under the new policy, but they did succeed in ending the Parkside's days as a second-run 'neighborhood' theatre, thereby doing more long-term harm than good, and no doubt contributing to its eventual demise."
"This is the original 1928 proscenium of the Parkside, flanked by a couple of typical Depression-era murals, added during the mid-1930s modernization. All of this was hidden behind the ubiquitous drapes of the 1965 remodeling."
Memories of the Parkside Theatre
Irene Sullivan Fay: "There were sand dunes on both sides of it (the Parkside Theatre). We had to walk quite a ways to get to the movies. I had these new black patent-leather shoes, and we came back and they were dull: all the shine was gone."
Read memories about the businesses in the Taraval shopping district, including the Parkside District, in Frank Dunnigan's column: Streetwise: The Taraval Trail.
There are not one, but a number of threads on our message board about the Parkside Theatre:
Parkside Theatre, thread one (started on April 10, 2001)
The smells, the sights, and the Song Remains the Same!
Parkside Theatre, thread two (started on June 11, 2003)
Paying for admission with 7-Up bottle caps?
Parkside Theatre, thread three (started on December 20, 2008)
Page launched 14 March 2001; updated 15 April 2014
Contribute your own stories about the Parkside Theatre!