Empire Cinema (CinéArts)

(formally the Portal Theatre)

Location: 85 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, CA

Opened: December 26, 1925

Although no architecturally significant structures have been designated on West Portal Avenue, the movie theater has been a fixture since it opened as the "Portal Theatre" on December 26, 1925. Local architect Irving Morrow (of Morrow & Garren) originally designed a more open entry courtyard for the theatre and business block, but much of his 1923 plan, including a Moorish style was carried out.

Renamed and re-opened on October 1, 1936 as the "Empire," it had its single screen split into three in 1974. In the twenty-first century it has been promoted as "CinéArts at the Empire."

Portal Theatre, later named the Empire, at 85 West Portal Avenue in 1925. - San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Empire Cinema, formerly the Portal and later CineArts, at 85 West Portal Avenue in 1966. - Courtesy of Jack Tillmany

Rendering by architect Irving Morrow for West Portal theater and shops at Vicente Street, 1923. - Irving F. and Gertrude Comfort Morrow Collection, Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley

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