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Real Ghost Stories

Broadway Metroplex Friendlies


Back when I was young and punk, I worked at a movie theatre in downtown, the Broadway Metroplex. The original Broadway Cinemas had been torn down to build a skyscraper where the new theatre was located. The new box office was on a street level corner. Past the doors behind it was an elevator and a wide, three-storey, flight of stairs down to the mezzanine and theatre levels. Four big neon signs from older local theaters hung outside each auditorium. I loved it. You could see them lit from the big window at street level, which let rainy Portland light down to the bottom of the stairs where ushers gathered tickets. The manager office was behind the theatre level staircase, opposite concessions.

Our single elevator served the cinema only, and was not accessible from anywhere except the box office lobby upstairs and the two lower floors. It wasn't the quickest lift moving between levels. The staff mostly used the stairs to move between floors because it was much faster than waiting for the elevator. You'd have to push the button and then wait for the elevator to arrive or open. We did use the elevator if we had big boxes or a cart or something heavy.

Often in these cases, at the theatre level, the empty elevator would come down, and its' door would open for us as we approached. This was very odd, as a person would actually have had to physically push the button to get the elevator to move or open, at any other time. It was impossible that a coworker or customer had sent it from another level when (for example) everyone on shift was visible from or standing by the elevator. This happened to me; I watched it happen to other people, for years.

After a while I would always say "thanks" whenever the elevator opened as I approached to use it. From then on, it would also sometimes open when I just walked by. Even if I was not going up I'd still say "thank you."

In both the (mezzanine) bathrooms, but especially the ladies', one could often hear the sounds of laughing, of children, and occasional murmuring voices. This was most obvious when one were alone and no movie playing in the auditoriums. It was the kind of sound that seems to come from far away, but only could be heard within the bathrooms. There are no children at any level of the whole office building, or business at one a.m. Other staff heard the voices- but only once at the same time with me. On that occasion he and I made eye contact, shrugged, and kept cleaning. There are no shared walls or vents that I am aware of, as we were sound-proofed two stories underground, with empty emergency exits between us and the garage. Real noises/conversations in those bathrooms are loud and seem to bounce off the walls.

Before locking up, the manager and/or employee walks up the aisle in each auditorium to look behind the screen and make sure no one is hiding. It sounds creepy and it is, but it becomes routine. All of us spent plenty of time alone in the empty auditoriums anyhow, scraping gum off chairs, or cleaning up between sets. Once while walking up the aisle, alone late at night, one of the managers felt someone pull on her long, loose hair from behind. She told them to stop scaring her, then "Nope-d" out. She also often heard children running or laughing in the auditoriums when she was locked in the building alone, and could not see anyone who was making the noise. This was not the first or most haunted theatre she had worked at, and she was fairly casual about it. Other things happened to other managers, and in their office, but I am not confident in my second-hand memory of those incidents.

In case you wonder:

A crew of three or four, plus a manager, ran the whole show on weekdays. In that strange way big spaces have when empty, you could hear anyone else and know where they were. You could hear the doors close behind staff, or their actual footsteps, even though it was carpet. Additionally, from the theatre level you can see the elevator door on the mezzanine level. We all had walkietalkies so it was easy to confirm where people were at, anyhow. All the doors to projection booths and emergency exits on the mezzanine close automatically locked behind folks. They shut slow and cannot be slammed. So no one could send the elevator and run away out the closest doors. You would hear it crash open if they did, even from the lower level.

Before the day's first movie began, and 15 minutes after the last set started at night, the street-level doors were kept locked. Only a manager with a key could unlock them. Thus, even the crew was unable to enter or leave outside of business hours without everyone basically seeing/hearing them arrive. This was strict corporate policy to protect the reels, as well as the safest option to keep thieves and weirdos from creeping in, or junkies from shooting up in the bathrooms. There is a peephole in the locked door so you can see the lobby elevator from the box office, and confirm no one is there messing with the elevator.

The box office is locked at all times-if that crew member leaves their station, a manager has to let them back in; so if they had left the box office to prank "send the elevator down" they would be busted for leaving the box unattended. In any case the doors should not have opened with the elevator resting at theatre level without physically pushing the "up" button.

I would love to hear other stories about the Broadway Metroplex. I felt much at home there, and was sad in 2011 when corporate closed it. However, I bet that space is creepy as all hell, deserted and shuttered. You could not offer me enough free movies to go work, alone, in there now.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, BettinaMarie, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Cups (7 stories) (159 posts)
5 years ago (2018-08-09)
Awww, Bettina - I hope you'll come back to YGS! I fondly remember this theater also - how cool that you worked there. Portland is host to such a sordid past, it's hard to go anywhere without hearing a story or two. Thank you for sharing! Wish I had seen it months ago!
BettinaMarie (12 stories) (74 posts)
5 years ago (2018-04-03)
Jubel- my autocorrect will not let me type your name. Thank you for the story suggestion, and your kind comments. I have really enjoyed many of your posts.
Jubeele (25 stories) (882 posts)
5 years ago (2018-04-02)
BettinaMarie, your words painted such a vivid picture of the Broadway Metroplex. So full of haunting atmosphere. I felt my skin prickling as I read this. All those lives coming in contact within those aged walls would surely have left many lingering residual memories.

I love to visit old historic cinemas/theatres in the safety of a small group of friends. But no amount of $$$ would induce me to work there alone. 😨

You might also enjoy "The Henn Theater" by Lilwolf:

Thanks for a most enjoyable read. 😁

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