The above photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 881 – file 350) depicts the Metro Theatre in 1939, the year it opened. The feature on the marquee is “Delinquent Parents,” released in 1938. It was a grade-B film, which was the usual class of film that the theatre screened in the years ahead. In the above photo, the neon “Metro” sign protrudes from the facade. In future years, it was flattened against the wall, and eventually, it was entirely removed.
The Metro Theatre, at 679 Bloor Street West, is located in an area that today is referred to as Korea Town, due to the number of Korean restaurants and shops located there. The theatre is on the south side of Bloor, a short distance from Manning Avenue. The Metro commenced operation in 1939, one of the last theatres to open before the outbreak of the Second World War. It was a welcomed addition to the four other neighbourhood theatres along that section of Bloor Street. On opening night, a fire broke out in the Metro. There was not much damage, but the fire created much free publicity as the event was reported in all the newspapers.
The theatre was intimate in size, containing only about 300 seats. The box office was originally in the centre of the entranceway. It architects were Kaplan and Sprachman, and it was one of the last theatres they designed with touches of Art Deco. The yellow-brick facade was quite plain, with rows of raised bricks forming vertical pilasters (columns) that extended upward to the plain cornice. Atop the building was a stone parapet with rounded edges, clearly influenced by Art Deco.
In 1978, the theatre began showing porn movies and offering burlesque. Although VCRs in homes soon diminished the popularity of porno films in theatres, the Metro continued showing them. It became known as “Toronto’s last porno house.” The theatre eventually deteriorated and became rather seedy.
The Metro was renovated in 2012 and brought back to life, specializing in adult movies and art films. It is also rented out for special events.
The interior of the Metro (City of Toronto Archives, Series 881, file 350). The photo is undated.
The Metro Theatre during the summer of 2013.
The facade of the theatre. At the top of the structure, the narrow parapet is visible. It consists of several rows of cut stone. The corners of the parapet are rounded, in the Art Deco Style.
The entrance to the theatre in August of 2013.
The marquee and the facade above it.
Signage at the front of the theatre (August 2013)
The entrance to the Metro (photo 2013).
The Metro at 679 Bloor West, looking east along Bloor Street.
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Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book:
Theatres Included in the Book:
Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto
Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)
Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons
Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown
Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s
Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede
Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression
Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro
Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years
University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema
Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres
Savoy (Coronet), Westwood
Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes
Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)