The Grand Lake Theater: A Historic Landmark of Oakland, CA

Oakland, California is a city teeming with life, culture, and diversity. One of the most prominent landmarks of this vibrant city is the Grand Lake Theater, a historic cinema that has been entertaining the residents of Oakland for over 100 years. The Grand Lake Theater is more than just a movie theater; it is a cultural institution that has become an integral part of the city's identity.

A Brief History of the Grand Lake Theater

The Grand Lake Theater first opened its doors in 1926, at the height of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It was built by the Reid Brothers, who were prominent architects of the time, and was originally designed as a vaudeville theater. Over the years, the theater has undergone several renovations and upgrades to keep up with changing technologies and entertainment trends.

In the 1970s, the Grand Lake Theater became an iconic venue for independent and foreign films. It was around this time that the theater's owner, Allen Michaan, began to introduce the policy of keeping the American flag on display during the national anthem, a tradition that has continued to this day.

The Grand Lake Theater Today

The Grand Lake Theater continues to be a popular destination for movie-goers in Oakland. With its striking marquee and timeless Art Deco design, the theater stands out as a historic landmark in the heart of the city. Inside, the theater is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including digital projection and surround sound.

One of the unique features of the Grand Lake Theater is its policy of showing only one film at a time. This means that the theater can dedicate all of its resources to creating the best possible experience for each movie. The theater also offers special events and screenings, such as midnight showings of cult classics and sing-alongs of beloved musicals.

The Grand Lake Theater and the Community

The Grand Lake Theater has a close relationship with the Oakland community, and is often used as a venue for local events and fundraisers. The theater has also been a vocal advocate for social justice issues, displaying signs and banners in support of causes such as Black Lives Matter and marriage equality.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Grand Lake Theater to temporarily close its doors. However, the theater's owner, Allen Michaan, made headlines when he used the theater's marquee to display humorous and inspirational messages for passersby. The messages, which ranged from puns to political commentary, became a source of hope and entertainment for the community during a difficult time.

Expert Quotes about the Grand Lake Theater

"Grand Lake Theater is more than just a cinema; it's a symbol of Oakland's rich cultural heritage. This historic landmark has played an important role in shaping the identity of our city, and has become a beloved destination for generations of movie-goers." - Jean Quan, former mayor of Oakland

"The Grand Lake Theater is a true gem of Oakland - a place where you can experience the magic of cinema in a setting that is both historic and modern. As someone who has worked in the film industry for years, I can tell you that the Grand Lake Theater is one of the best places in the country to see a movie." - Michael B. Seligman, producer of the Academy Awards


The Grand Lake Theater is more than just a movie theater - it's a piece of Oakland's history and a cherished cultural institution. From its striking marquee to its commitment to quality programming, the theater is a beloved destination for movie-goers and community members alike. As Oakland continues to grow and change, the Grand Lake Theater remains a steadfast symbol of the city's rich cultural heritage.

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