This Thursday, Apple will mark the opening of a new store in downtown Los Angeles. The space occupies the newly renovated Tower Theatre, which opened in DTLA’s Broadway Theater District in 1927. Among other milestones, the 900-seat theater was the first in LA to be wired for the talkies, hosting a premier of “The Jazz Singer” that same year. Not for nothing, it was also the first theater in the city with air conditioning.
Apple Tower Theatre is actually the company’s 26th store in greater LA. Obviously, though, moving into a 94-year-old theater takes a fair bit more work than, say, a shopping mall. The store has been in the works for a number of years, owing in part to having to work with the city to restore a space that had been declared a landmark.
Interestingly, an LA Times article back in 2018 noted that the space, “may also serve as a declaration that Apple intends to compete as a major Hollywood content creator.” In hindsight, fair enough. Apple TV+ launched late the following year.
The theater has actually been largely unoccupied since 1988, which clearly meant even more work had to go into shining up the walls and making the grand old theater presentable for that modern retail vibe — not to mention a seismic upgrade to help make it more earthquake proof.
The company also notes that it took care to maintain some of the space’s more iconic elements.
“Apple Tower Theatre anchors the corner of Eighth Street and Broadway, where visitors will immediately recognize the fully restored clock tower, recreated Broadway marquee, clean terra cotta exterior, and renovated historic blade sign,” Apple writes. “After walking through the Broadway doors, guests enter the monumental lobby inspired by Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera House, featuring a grand arched stairway with bronze handrails flanked by marble Corinthian columns.”
The store’s opening also marks the launch of Apple’s new Creative Studios initiative. The LA store and a location in Beijing will be the first to get the program. In its initial form, it will run between eight and 12 weeks, providing a group of mentors from the creative arts.
“Creativity and access to education are core values for Apple, so we are absolutely thrilled to kick off today at Apple Creative Studios in Los Angeles and Beijing and to bring this meaningful program to several more cities this year,” SVP Deirdre O’Brien said in a press release. “Building on our long history of using stores as a venue to host local artists to educate and inspire, Creative Studios is one more way we’re providing free arts education to those who need it most.”
Last week, Google launched its first retail store in Manhattan's Chelsea district. The Apple Tower Theatre location opens at 10 a.m. local time on Thursday, June 24. The company says it's employing nearly 100 to keep the store running.