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The rise and fall of Silicon Valley's dome-shaped theaters

In 1963, a prominent local architect named Vincent G. Raney agreed to build a theater on his family's land in San Jose, California, right next to their world-famous Winchester Mystery House. He'd built theaters before, but this would be the first of its kind: the prototype for a long line of giant dome buildings that would launch the Century Theaters brand and define its image until the turn of the millennium.

Though borrowing elements of the Los Angeles Cinerama Dome that had been completed a year earlier, the Century 21 was still a marvel when it opened in November 1964, with a giant curved widescreen experience that both patrons and Hollywood directors adored. But though Raney's popular domes once dotted the landscape, they're rapidly vanishing now, and the original Century 21 and its next-door neighbors the Century 22 and 23 may soon be destroyed to make way for new development.

Here, you can see Silicon Valley's original Century Theaters as they were in 1964 — and now. You can also find more pictures at Cinematour.

San Jose's Century Dome Theaters


Sunset on the Dome
The Century 21 dome theater in San Jose, California was the first of its kind.