There are many wonderful and amazing things to do within the city of San Francisco. You can spend every day of the year within the city limits and never regret that you didn’t leave this small 50 square mile place. However you shouldn’t become so enraptured by the wonder of the city that you fail to check out some of the interesting things that are to be found in the surrounding Bay Area. One of the things that is definitely worth checking out is the Fox Theatre in Oakland. It’s just a quick BART ride over to Oakland and it gives you the chance to enjoy modern performance art as well as to experience a bit of the Bay Area’s wonderful history. While there are many amazing theaters in San Francisco - the Fox is not to be missed across the Bay in Oakland.
What is Oakland’s Fox Theatre?
The Fox Theatre in Oakland is a historic theatre that opened in the 1920’s. It was a famous place where people came to see the first movies that were being shown in big, beautiful theaters. It was a place of romance, whimsy and entertainment. Today this theatre has been renovated and re-opened for you to enjoy. These days it isn’t a movie theatre. It is a place where you can go to hear live music. It is home to a local arts school. And it is a landmark that shows off some of the best architectural and arts history in the Bay Area.
The History of Oakland’s Fox Theatre
The Fox Theatre opened during the Roaring 20’s (in 1928 to be specific). This was a thoroughly exciting time in the history of the Bay Area. The flappers were in full force. Entertainment was everywhere. People wanted to go out and have a good time. One of the best places to do that was a great theatre. The Fox Theatre opened its doors and immediately became a place where people wanted to go to enjoy themselves. There were live stage performances here as well as musical performances on the Mighty Wurlitzer. However the main thing that people came to see was movies. This was the era of the first talking movies. It was a time when the glamour of Hollywood was starting to spill forth from the silver screen. It was an amazing time and this was a terrific venue to take it all in.
The Fox Theatre, located in the shopping district of downtown Oakland, managed to survive for over thirty years. However the 1960’s were a tough time for movie theaters. This was the time when people started getting televisions in their own homes. They weren’t as inclined to go to the movies anymore. A lot of great movie theaters had to close their doors during this period of history. The Fox Theatre was no exception. It shut down in 1966 making a lot of people quite sad to see it go. The sadness continued over the next one dozen years as the building became increasingly damaged by fires, rain and general decay. There was a lot of talk about shutting it down.
In 1978 the building was saved from ruin. It was declared a historical landmark because even then people were starting to realize how integral this building was to the history of the Bay Area. Nevertheless, there wasn’t any investment in rebuilding the Fox Theatre for a long time to come. It went through a number of different owners and rebuilding and restoration did not begin until recently. Luckily, the Fox Theatre has now once again opened its doors to the public!
The Architecture of the Fox Theatre
The rich history of the Fox Theatre is a great reason to visit this building. However there’s an even better reason; you just might want to see it. The architecture of this building is amazing. The detailed domed roof and amazing indoor paintings were among some of the most important reasons that people were initially drawn to this theatre back in the 1920’s. These things have been restored to their former glory so that visitors to the theatre can enjoy them today. There are certainly a lot of wonderful historic buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area but that doesn’t mean that each one isn’t impressive in its own right. This is definitely a building to be noticed (and photographed!)
What Can You Do at the Fox Theatre Today?
The main attraction of the reopened venue is the live music that you can see performed here. This is a wonderful venue for hearing live music. It is not only beautiful but it is perfectly sized – small enough to be intimate but large enough to get some big names coming through. The Fox Theatre is also home to a local arts school and can be rented out for private events so you might come here for any of these things. You might even just come here to wander around the historic building and learn more about its history.
While you are here you should be sure to check out The Den at Fox Theatre which is the new restaurant that has opened within the building. It’s an upscale lounge-style restaurant where you can eat an array of tasty appetizers or enjoy a drink at the bar. You can soak in the ambience of this great building while waiting for a show to start or you can even just stop in here and enjoy the bar on a lazy afternoon.
Getting to the Fox Theatre
It is easy to get to the Fox Theatre in Oakland. Most people who are coming from San Francisco will want to take BART. Simply get off at the 19th Street Oakland station. You will be located one block away from the theatre. It’s location is 1807 Telegraph Hill which is just west of the BART station. There are many hotels and restaurants in this area if you prefer to spend some time here instead of visiting theaters in San Francisco.