City Line Center Theatre

7600 City Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19151

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Showing 26 - 41 of 41 comments

Kevanos on February 10, 2008 at 9:03 am

The curtains in front of the screens could not close all the way. They could be adjusted remotely for different aspect radio films. The sides could adjust on house 1 and top and bottom on house 2.

AMC had a slide show with trivea facts/questions and ads which was called the “Institutional Presentation” between shows. Budco showed spotlights with rotating color wheels.

Ticket sales were mostly poor. I don’t remember numbers. We always had the feeling that the theater was gonna close. The fact that AMC didn’t invest money on repairs and renovations strengthened that belief. There were some rumors that the theatre might be further divided into a four house one, but that never seemed likely to me.

The only show I remember doing well was when we had a free showing of “Batteries Not Included” which was a Speilberg film about small space ships.

Films that I remember being shown in the half year that I was there were Robocop, Full Metal Jacket, Dirty Dancing, many B movies like, The Hidden.

As I stated in earlier posts there were problems with vandalism. At one point someone broke into the theatre and painted graffiti on the house 1 screne. This had a white paint path on it( to cover it up) for months before it was replaced. Mirrors were being smashed and there were several attemped roberies.

It also went through three GMs in about two months. The last one and I did not get along and ended up canning me.

Everyone was angry, stressed out. The neighborhood was going bad. The theatre was clearly dieing.

HowardBHaas on February 10, 2008 at 8:10 am

Yes, noticed the hallway. I don’t know about 1987, but in 1988, AMC did not open & close curtains in front of their movie screens.
I don’t know if Budco (which sold their movie operations to AMC) had used curtains. Were there leftover curtains?

How well did the City Line Center Theatre do for ticket sales? for Saturday matinees, evenings, etc? probably not many people during the week. Were there problems with the moviegoers? Were there many from adjoining neibbhorhoods in West Philly, or still many people attending from Overbrook Park & the western suburbs? Any particular movies you recall that did very well or that you were happy to see presented on the big screen?

Kevanos on February 10, 2008 at 7:28 am

The little boxes were speakers. The roof was in three layers. When you watched my video, you may have noticed that the stair case went up to a crude hallway. The second door on the right was the projection booth. The left side had windows. If you took the hallway to the end there was a door on the left which opened onto the lowest roof. From there you could take a ladder to a roof over the hallway. From there, you cound enter a door to a large room over the auditorium. This had catwalks and the heating/ac ducts.

HowardBHaas on February 9, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Thanks for the diagram. The little boxes you drew are speakers for the sound?
What do you mean by catwalks? an attic over the auditorium? or just main floor hallways?

Kevanos on February 9, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Here is my best guess on how the houses were divided. Using a Google Earth photo of the theatre and outlining the area which contained the houses catwalks, I have divided the theatres to the best of my guess. I’m not certain that I have the exit hall right.

Kevanos on February 9, 2008 at 8:30 pm

When I worked there I did ask a lot of questions and look behind things. So I did a bit of personal research when it was still up and running.

I would say that the split had divided the original house about 65%/ 35% on the middle and the resulting house 2 extended about 75% to the front. I believe that the seats were redone and the screens were reconstructed. From the storage room which extended the rest of the way to the front you could see the original cloth on the walls and the right side of the original stage. I don’t remember exactly how it looked.

Both houses were 35mm. House 1 had stereo surround and House 2 was mono.

HowardBHaas on February 9, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Thanks! I remember movie poster cases in the passageway to the alley behind the theater.
I would like to have seen Auditorium 1 on the video.

Did Auditorium 1 have the same screen it did when the theater only had one big house? That is, did Auditorium 1 retain seats in front of where Auditorium 2 ended? Or, did Auditorium 2 and the storage space in front of it go all the way to the same front wall where Auditorium 1’s screen was also located? I’m trying to figure out if I had gone into Auditorium 1 whether I’d have been watching a movie on the same exact size screen in its same location that it was
before the twinning?

I recognized the marquee, ticket booth, and the doors with portholes that opened to the auditorium. From your description and the video, it seems there was a vestibule lobby, and then the main lobby itself opened to the auditorium.

I was never in the projection booth. I assume it had 35mm projectors and not 70mm projection? Do you know how big the movie screens were? (usually they have tags stating how many feet wide, tall). How many seats were in Auditorium 2?

Kevanos on February 9, 2008 at 5:54 pm

First of all here is the link to the Video on YouTube. Please remember that this is from a 20 year old vhs tape, the production had lighting problems and the digital transfer made the lighting problems worse. The good news is that I plan to remaster it someday and repost it.

Giving as much detail as I remember.

The theatre was in the corner of the City Line Shopping Center. There was a large markee sign overlookinig the corner. Under it was a detached ticket booth. To the right was a passageway which you could take to the alley behind the theatre. In this passageway there was a door which lead to a long storage room where the markee letters and a large rickety ladder were stored.

As you go under the markee and around the ticker booth there were glass doors which lead to the outter lobby. It had a concrete ramping floor with a large pattern on it, concrete plant boxes on the sides, mirrored walls, places for movie posters on the sides and a row of doors in the back. The doors on the left were an exit from the main house and the doors on the right lead to the main lobby.

As you entered the main lobby to the immediate right was a red door which lead to the manager office. It was a long hallway with a drop safe to the left of the door as you entered, two desks side by side to the right of the door and a large gray (fairly new) safe (combo was 76 – 19 – 58) next to the last desk. Opposide the safe was a closet with an older, smaller safe, which I believe was the original.

Back to the main lobby.

Beyond the office door (still right side) was a alcove with a door to a janators closet and a door to an electrical room with the lighting breakers. Beyond the nook were the doors to the lavatories. Beyond that (as the main lobby becomes widest) were a row of doors to the outside. The main lobby then narrows a little and there is an area which was the original in-wall concessions stand but had been boarded up and tured into a closet. Inside this x-concessions stand/closet was door which lead to a long room which paralleled the rest of the main lobby which stored concessions.


The main lobby continues to narrow and there are built in benches on the right which takes you to the end of the main lobby. At the end of the main lobby are two doors. The one on the right was a utility meter/break room and the one on the left was a staircase which lead to the second floor, projection booths, heating AC utility rooms.

The left side of the Lobby had the doors to the two houses which used to be one house. In the middle of the main lobby was a concessions stand Island. I was told that in the old days there were small bleechers in the middle of the lobby that you could sit on and watch the film while others in your party got snacks. I was also told that the back wall of the theatre had glass windows and there were speakers in the lobby that you could hear the film with.

The theater was divided in a very reasonable way. House one was still very large and could still seat close to 1000 patrons. House two was created by walling off the right back corner of the original house. Making house two much smaller than one. In front of house two a storage room was created which could be accessed from a door in the front of house 1.

HowardBHaas on February 9, 2008 at 11:34 am

Yes, I’d very much like to see it on You Tube!
I was inside when it was a single, vast auditorium. I’m not sure just how many seats it had, but it was huge and had a large, curtained screen. This was long after the original stage opening, prosenium arch, curtains, etc. had been modified for wide screen cinemascope film in the 1950s.

Before it was twinnged, I remember the doors to the auditorium having portholes so you could see the movie playing thru them.

I didn’t visit inside after it was twinned, but did see the exterior intact until conversion to store.

What were the offices & back rooms like? Was there any collection of vintage movie posters or photos of the theater? Do you know of any still photos-perhaps you snapped some yourself?
Did you work in other theaters?
Thanks again for documenting this gem.

Kevanos on February 9, 2008 at 10:55 am

I shot the student film at the end of 1987. It was an experimental composition for a film class at Temple U and was shot on VHS. I have the edited version and all the original footage.

Since I was a Part Time Manager I had keys, and thus could go to the theatre in the middle of the night and power it up.

It starts as a long shot outside and Tubethen jump zooms closer and closer to the theatre and end up as a macro closeup of the front door lock. The next shot is the inside of the main door. It then dollys across the lobby to classical music showing closeups of various features and ends up on the lock of the door leading up to the projection booth. It then jumps back to the lobby and dollys down a dirrerent path and ends up at the door to house one.

It then dollys and pans up the stairs to the projection booth, goes inside the booth and end up peering out the booth window.

It then tracks down the seats of house one (had serious lighting problems) and ends up at the screen.

It then pans up the projector, pladder and automation systems. Then pans up the speaker behind the screen going back and forth.

Then works it way back to the front door and ends up as a shot of the exterior.

Although it had some serious lighting problems, my film teacher loved it.

I plan to re-edit it when I get a better PC. I still have all the elements.

I will post a rough conversion back on You sometime if you want.

HowardBHaas on February 8, 2008 at 7:44 pm

Kevanos, did you shoot the film inside the theater? does it show the lobby? I’d be interested in seeing any part of the theater on film or photo. Maybe you could post on YouTube or flickr and link here?

I remember the stand alone ticket booth, but haven’t found photos of the exterior as a theater or the interior. As you know, the ticket booth & marquee are gone since TJ Maxx.

Kevanos on February 8, 2008 at 6:20 pm

I worked in that theater for a short period of time from the summer of 1987 to early 1988. AMC had acquired the theater from Budco a few months earlier in a buyout.

The theater had numerous problem ranging from declining viewings, poor management to even vandalism. The lobby had smashed mirrors and house 2 had one of its wall curtains ripped down so that you could see sheetrock.

Although the theater was in a state of disrepair, many of the original architectural features were still intact. The lobby had many of its original fixtures and there was an old style detached ticket booth in the front under a neon markee. Behind the scenes you could see part of the original theater stage.

Around 1991 the theater was gutted and turned into a TJ Maxx.

If this site ever gets the photo uploader working, I will post a screen grab from a student film that I shot there.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on July 2, 2005 at 7:21 pm

The City Line Center Twin was opened by, I believe, eithe William goldman Theatres or Budco Theatres. AMC Theatres closed this theatre in the early 1990’s, along with many former Budco/Goldman/Schlanger Theatres, with only the Orleans 8 and the 309 Cinema 9 being the last two from this ownership.

savingtheboyd on April 18, 2005 at 7:20 pm

I think it probably opened 1946 or 1947, with fewer seats but still more than 1000 seats. It closed about 1990 and has since been a TJ Max store. I lived half a block away in the 1960s as a child, and it inspired my love of movies in theaters. It twinned in the mid 1970’s. Howard

veyoung52 on November 25, 2004 at 9:04 am

Never got here, but I do remember that the City Line was definitely in the “1st tier” slot for films coming off of roadshow downtown and going into limited release (“Now..For the First Time at Popular Prices, Continuous Performances!”). Most certainly was equipped for 4-track mag.

Mikeoaklandpark on November 12, 2004 at 7:46 am

When I lived back in that area in 1982-1983 the theater was still open and was a twin. I am not sure when it closed. It was run at the time by Budco than AMC.