Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Center Theater, Little Rock

Google M - Wait a second...
...Where'd it go?

Oops. Continuing on down Main Street, we find one landmark that's missing altogether - the Center Theater, which until recently was the city's last old movie house. Like all major cities, cinemas and their festive neon could once be found along nearly every major avenue. But unlike most major cities, Little Rock didn't manage to save any of them after the cineplexes of the 1970s and 1980s caused most of them to close and turn to husks and bones.

The Google Ghost
 The theater is one of the first things I remember seeing when I first visited Little Rock in 2004 or so. My friends and I were stumbling down Main Street wondering why there were no people anywhere. The shuttered face of the Center seemed a reflection of this desertion.

Because Google's street view of this area hasn't been updated since 2007, it still shows the theater there, even though the overhead view (you can see it there in the little box on the bottom right) shows an empty lot.

The Center opened in 1920 as the Royal Theater and was later remodeled in 1949. It was added to the Historical Register in 2003. The Arkansas Repertory Theater (a live theater venue in one of the few inhabited buildings along the avenue) is nearby and there was talk of the Center being incorporated into it. That didn't happen.

I've since found Little Rock to be a much more vibrant city than I originally thought. But the desolation along Main Street and losses of landmarks like the Center are things that I hope will, one day, be addressed with devices other than bulldozers.

No comments: