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Byham Theater, one of Pittsburgh's Classic and Priceless Theaters in The Cultural District

Pittsburgh is fortunate to have four beautifully intact old and classic theaters, the Benedum Center, Byham Theater, Heinz Hall, and the Harris Theater, in addition to the other newer theaters and arts facilities within Pittsburgh's Cultural District. The Heinz Family took a philanthropic interest in stimulating this section of Downtown Pittsburgh, which had become blighted, but was flush with grand old theaters that needed love and revitalization. These facilities included grand 1920s movie houses in the Benedum Center and Heinz Hall, a vaudeville theater in the Byham Theater, and an old movie theater in the Harris Theater. In many other cities, grand buildings like these often fell into disrepair and eventual demolition. Thanks to forward thinking in the rough economic times of the 70s and 80s for the Pittsburgh region, these theaters were preserved and restored. People were put to work to preserve and restore these spaces and bring in new economic activity and opportunity through hosting events that both bring the community together and draw in people from across the region into the Downtown Pittsburgh Area. The Cultural District is a tremendous asset to the City of Pittsburgh and its collection of theaters rivals and exceeds that of much larger cities. Today's article will focus on the beautiful Byham Theater.
Of the classic theaters in Pittsburgh, the Byham is the oldest. It was built in 1903 and opened on Halloween night in 1904 with a magic show by Houdini. It started as the Gayety Theater, which was a Vaudeville Theater that hosted shows, which included legends such as Ethel Barrymore, Gertrude Lawrence, and Helen Hayes. The theater was renamed into the Fulton Theater and became a movie house in the 1930s. It was purchased by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in 1990 and beautifully restored and reopened in 1995.
The attention to detail in everything they did with this theater is incredible. One of my personal favorite things when going into these theaters is just looking at all of the detail in the vestibules. The way they encourage people to chat and socialize before a show out in the lobby. 
This visit was to see a talk by Ira Glass, the creator of NPR's This American Life. It was pretty incredible. 

If you get the chance, definitely go see a show or a talk at the Byham Theater. It is a delightful old theater and a labor of love for the community. I highly recommend checking out all of the theaters in Pittsburgh's Cultural District. They are a great treasure. 

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Our 2024 Pennsylvania Wall Calendar features scenes from across the state, including views of:
-The old growth forests in Cook Forest State Park 
-Center City Philadelphia 
-Knoebels Amusement Resort 
-Gettysburg Battlefield in the snow 
-Sailing in Erie 
-PA's Elk Herd 
-Canyon Vista at Worlds End State Park 
-Kinzua Bridge 
-Cowan's Gap State Park 
-Downtown Pittsburgh 
-A vista on the PA 144 Scenic Byway -A holiday scene from Sunbury PA. 

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It makes for a great gift for someone or for yourself. It is available for purchase through the PayPal dropdown menus at the top of the page and the bottom of this article.

Also available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and the sadly former Conneaut Lake Park.

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