The Rio Theatre
1205 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95063
ph. (831) 423-8209
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So Golden State built the Rio Cycloramic Theatre, and located it in the booming East Santa Cruz business district, also called downtown Branciforte. Some think the theater was dubbed Rio(river) for the Spanish town named after Branciforte Creek, or as the theater beyond the [San Lorenzo] river. But it's just as likely its ocean liner-inspired architecture suggests a steamship cruise to Rio de Janeiro, a tropical destination reminiscent of Santa Cruz.
Construction ran from 1947 to 1949. The Rio was built of Davenport-area cement and Hebbron-Nigh Lumber; with the ticket booth, aluminum doors and poster cases crafted by Modern Industries of Oakland; the chairs, carpets, drapes and projector from National Theater Supply; and lighting fixtures from Peerless Electric of San Francisco. The 938 seat Rio opened June 12, 1949, with a live radio broadcast on KSCO of the 15-minute dedication ceremony. Then theater patrons enjoyed a double feature of Song of India and Law of the Barbary Coast.
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