City Escapes: Portland’s Striking Movie Theaters

The holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is here. Americans everywhere are preparing for the grandest feast of the year — the ultimate pumpkin-turkey gorge. Friends and families will enjoy each other’s company (and post-meal lethargy) taking in the last beauties of autumn before their orange and golden forms take the last fall before the snow.

While the Friday after is full of leftovers and for some, hangovers — we step out for a brief bout of fresh air, but what better place is there to take it easy than at the movies. Should you be in Portland this holiday season, you’re in for a cinematic treat. The city is full of ornamented theaters turned movie houses. Here is your guide to these perfect hideaways.

Hollywood theater

LOCATION: 4122 NE SANDY BLVD PORTLAND, OR 97212

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Photo credit: Nate Capp

The Hollywood Theater located in Portland’s neighborhood bearing the same name was originally commissioned in 1926. Architects John Virginius Bennes and Harry A. Herzog designed it as a vaudeville and silent film theater after the Baths of Caracalla — public baths of Ancient Rome. Today, the Hollywood continues to operate as an arthouse theater. 

Bagdad theater

3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

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Photo credit: Mark Boster

Nested in the hip Belmont & Hawthorne district of Portland, the Bagdad Theater stands out with its large neon lettering.  The original Bagdad Theater & Pub was built in 1927. Today, you can still grab a beer on tap before your screening — whether it’s the latest film to be released or one of their throwback nights playing a classic. Bagdad was the colloquial spelling for Baghdad back in the twenties and the appellation refers to the classical Ottoman-esque exterior.

Roseway theater

7229 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97213

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Photo credit: Shawn Granton

Save for the large rose at the front entrance, the Roseway Theater is not immediately impressive from the outside as many of its details form 1924 seem to have been lost with time. The allure really stands as you enter the auditorium itself. Vintage stained glass interpretations of the major production studios in early cinema such as Paramount or MGM are depicted on the wall.

living room theater

341 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97205

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Photo credit: Trip Advisor

Just south of the Pearl District is the Living Room Theater. Contrary to Portland’s vintage cinema, this is a modern take on the movie going experience. It has gourmet menus, a full bar and is committed to bringing indie movies to the screen. Portland has one of the highest movie attending populations in the country so no doubt that a modernized approach to one of America’s favorite pastimes would start here.