The Warner Bros. Theatre, in the downtown jewelry district, is easy to pass by without a second glance. Only the faint outline of the familiar Warner Bros. emblem, a soft-edged diamond breastplate, is visible outside, giving only a tiny clue to what lies hidden inside. Despite the Great Depression, when the masses couldn’t find food to eat or work to report to, somehow the movies flourished. The Hollywood studios built some of their most beautiful and lavish theaters during the Depression to play host to their biggest premieres. The Warner Bros. Theatre, opened in 1920 by Alexander Pantages, was built nine years before the Wall Street crash of 1929, but after Pantages sold it to Warner Bros., it really came sparkling to life. Designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca, the theater boasted modern, Art Deco design from its ornate ceiling features to its signature lush red curtains and intricate carvings. Among the Steinbeckian squalor of the era, the entrance from West 7th Street must have been something to behold. Today, it houses a jewelry mart and most of the chairs have been ripped out to hold jewelry booths, and its Deco its luster has worn to a dull throb. However, it’s still breathtaking to come in from the noisy street and enter into its cavernous vacuum of nostalgia, and, as you push around busy jewelry vendors, imagine that the spirit of those old Hollywood greats whispers in with the breeze. 401 W. 7th St., dwntwn. —Nikki Darling

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