Ballard residents have enjoyed nearly 100 years of going to the movies, without ever needing to leave the neighborhood. Today the Majestic Bay, a triple-screen theater on Market Street, continues a long tradition of Ballard movie houses.
In the early 1900s, the Majestic Theater—later called the Roxy and eventually the Bay—entertained movie-goers for prices around 15 cents a show. The Bagdad Theatre, and perhaps others in the neighborhood, showed films as well.
The photo above, from the University of Washington’s Special Collections, depicts the Roxy Theatre in 1920 in the location of today’s Majestic Bay. The marquee reads “Walter Huston – Keep Em Rolling & Vodvil.” Cars of the time are parked in front.
According to an article in The Seattle Times, the Roxy Theatre became the Bay in 1948. Ballard’s bargain-loving old-timers (like this writer) recall that for years before its closing in 1997, the Bay showed second-run movies for just two dollars.
When the Alhadeff family purchased the Bay Theater in the late 1990s, they planned to refurbish it but instead had to tear down the aging building and start fresh. After a few years of movie drought in Ballard, the new Majestic Bay Theatre opened in 2000. Since then Ballardites and visitors to the neighborhood have enjoyed comfortable seats, Dolby Digital sound, and first-run feature films.
The photo at right shows the Majestic Bay—with cars of today out front—on a recent rainy Ballard afternoon, the perfect time to catch a show on the big screen.