Entertainment and Sightseeing
This is the fourth in a series of travel guides to my hometown, Oakland, California, for fans of the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League and the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball.
When I was a kid, Oakland had a bustling downtown. There were several department stores, lots of smaller shops and boutiques, restaurants aplenty, and at least five movie theatres.
The best of the lot were The Paramount Theatre and The Fox Oakland.
All of these theaters had seen better days, and – as Downtown Oakland went into its slow decline and as television and suburban multiplexes gained in popularity – the theaters started closing, one by one.
Blessing in Disguise
In retrospect, Downtown Oakland’s economic downturn could be seen as a blessing in disguise.
Many of those lovely old buildings survived, and its two grandest theaters, The Paramount Theatre and The Fox Oakland, were spared the wrecker’s ball because nobody was interested in investing in the neighborhood.
Downtown Oakland can now lay claim to two of the most extravagant live performance venues in the United States.
Located at 2025 Broadway, Oakland, California, The Paramount Theatre of the Arts is home to the Oakland Symphony and the Oakland Ballet. There are frequent concerts, variety shows, and live theatre performances, and movie classics are often shown.
The theatre is considered by architectural critics to be one of the finest remaining examples of Art Deco in the United States – if not the entire world.
‘Just Like Opening Night!’
Built in 1931, the theatre went into a slow decline, finally closing in 1970. It was rescued in 1972, when it was purchased by the Board of Directors of the Oakland Symphony, who needed a performance venue.
The theare underwent a spectacular renovation, reopening in 1973. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places the same year.
My mother had attended the theatre’s grand opening in 1931, with Hollywood movie stars arriving by limousine and search lights lighting the skies.
When she saw the renovated theatre for the first time, she said, with tears in her eyes, “It looks exactly the way it did on opening night!”
What’s On During Football Season 2017
From Motown to jazz to ballet, a full schedule of movies and live performances coincide with football season this fall and winter.
Why not make a weekend out of it and attend a performance in the run-up to the game?
Be Like a Local!
The Paramount Theatre is too good a place to rush, and most attendees arrive early to mingle and soak up the sumptuous surroundings.
The doors generally open 60 minutes before show time, and full service bars are available for most events.
If truth be told, the movies or the performances are often an excuse to visit the theatre, which is one of the world’s finest surviving examples of Art Deco architecture and interior design.
The shows are just icing on the cake.
How to Get There
From the Oakland Coliseum, take the Richmond-bound train to the 19th Street BART Station. Take the 20th Street Exit and Walk North on Broadway 500 feet in the direction of 20th Street.
If you are driving from the Coliseum, take Highway I-800 North toward Downtown Oakland. Take the Broadway exit. Stay to the right at the fork in the ramp. Merge onto Broadway and continue to 21st Street.
Paramount Theatre – 2025 Broadway, Oakland, California. Telephone: (510) 465-6400.