Del Mar Theatre

On Pacific Avenue, the Main Street in downtown Santa Cruz, is an impressive example of the era of the movie palaces.

This movie palace was opened on August 14, 1936 with the feature “China Clipper”. The Del Mar has a capacity of 1,521. This means that the town of Sea Ranch, in Sonoma could all attend a movie at the Del Mar!

The sign and marquee are now shrouded in trees from the street level and the sign could use a lick of paint.

The Del was built during the pinnacle of cinema and is designed in an Art Deco Zig-Zag Moderne style. The theater was built with a stage and a 25 piece orchestra pit. This was a space designed for many forms of entertainment from celluloid to live theater to music.

Many notable musicians over the years, have taken the stage at the Del, including: Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Jerry Garcia, and Emmylou Harris.

The imposing bulk of the back of the Del Mar as viewed from Front Street. I have always loved the mural that crowns the back of the Del.

Like many grand cinemas of the era, The Del Mar closed for a time, her vertical sign and marquee went dark.

At one time the theater was slated to be turned into a parking lot but local activists fought to save the landmark theater. The theater was renovated in 2002 then divided into three separate theaters and reopened.

It is now the grand dame of Santa Cruz Cinema whose neon sign again welcomes a new generation of movie goers.

A plaque on Pacific Avenue.

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