A visit to Grauman`s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles is a great visit for tourists or as part of a family outing for L.A. and Southern California residents. While young children may not remember some of the old stars, they will still enjoy placing their hands and feet in their prints along the sidewalk. Children of all ages are also awed by the extravagant adornments of the theater that were imported from China by Sid Grauman in order to build this Hollywood landmark.
One cannot help but be struck on approaching this building at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. The structure stands ninety feet tall at the entrance, with two red pillars topped in iron masks supporting the outstretched bronze roof. A huge dragon image towers above the entry, set back between the columns and two giant stone dogs sit faithfully at the foot of each one.
The Chinese Theater in Los Angeles first opened on May 18, 1927. The gala opening night is said to have provoked rioting in the street as spectators pushed and shoved one another to get a glimpse of the star-studded Hollywood icons of the time. The King of Kings by epic filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille was the first film to open at the theater, which to date continues to be one of the most sought after opening venues for motion pictures.
Sid Grauman had built several other lavish theaters, but this was his dream theater. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Grauman had moved west in the "Klondike gold rush''. He owned several theaters in Alaska and the northwest prior to settling down in Southern California. The Chinese Theater in Los Angeles literally became his landmark contribution to U.S. popular culture. The theater, which took 18 months and two million dollars to build, (quite a sum at that time), was actually owned in partnership between Grauman, Howard Schenck and early picture stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Grauman sold his share in 1929 but stayed on as the Director of the building until his death in 1950.
While the Oscar is a coveted trade prize for film actors, no award does as much to provide immortal fame to Hollywood stars nor continues to be as sought after as the opportunity to leave their marks in the cement sidewalk in the vicinity of Grauman`s Chinese Theater.
Visitors can find numerous restaurants in the nearby vicinity. But don't expect an easy seat to watch the latest film. The theater continues to host studio film premieres and to attract tourists and "star gazers'' from around the world
In 1968, the building was registered as a historic, cultural landmark and since that time there has been ongoing restoration to maintain this Hollywood architectural icon. The famed hand and footprints associated with the theater now stretch for blocks and often attract hundreds of people so allow time for a leisurely stroll when visiting.