Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tower Theater

(Photograph by Michele Catalano. Used with permission)

The Tower Theater on Broadway, which opened in 1938, is one of the two remaining movie palaces in Sacramento (the other being the Crest Theater on K Street). The first movie I saw here was The Andromeda Strain in 1971, when I was 11 years old. I had read the book, so my parents thought it would be OK to bring me along. At that time, the theater hadn’t been broken down into smaller screens – it was one glorious Cinemascope-type nirvana.

The next time I set foot in the theater, it was my first date with my wife-to-be, on May 20, 1984. We had met in a seminar that Spring – I was a graduate student (one who would never finish his Masters Degree, but what the heck, I met my wife, so it wasn’t a total loss) and she was an undergraduate. The course was on Modern American Political Thought, with a focus on Lewis Mumford (we still have an entire shelf of Mumford books in our library). About halfway through the semester, she started to ask if I needed a ride home, and then on the last day of class, she gave me her address and phone number. Bright guy that I am, I figured this was significant, and in a week or so I called her to see if she wanted to go see a movie.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and the movie was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. Not his best film, but certainly one that we’ll always consider to be meaningful. A little less than three years (and many movies, including some at the Tower) later, we got married. And we recently celebrated our 21st anniversary.

The Tower sign is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city - when you fly into Sacramento in the evening, it is easily recognizable as the plane heads into Metro Airport. Across the street was the site of one of the city's Tower Records stores, along with Tower Books and (later) Tower Video. Now, Tower founder Russ Solomon runs a record store called R5 at the site, and The Avid Reader has taken over the old bookstore. Together, the stores serve as the gateway to the Land Park neighborhood of the city.

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