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San Jose Signs Index 

Century 21-22-23
3161 Olsen Dr.
Theaters, Redone
SJ Candidate City Landmark, SJ City Landmark

The Century theater chain was founded in the early 1960s by Ray Syufy, owner of several movie houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. His theater concept was futuristic, even the name suggesting a forward thinking entertainment experience. For his first Century theater, Syufy hired Bay Area architect Vincent G. Raney and connected Raney with the folks at Cinerama in New York. Loosely based on Cinerama plans, Raney designed the first Century theater—a concrete dome.

Today, the very first theater in the Century chain — San Jose’s Century 21 — sits awaiting a new lease on life. The one-of-a-kind design is a city landmark and eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In October 2022, after several years in storage, the Century 21-22-23 pole sign returned to public view. Thanks to Federal Realty, the sign was restored by its original maker—Arrow Sign of Oakland.

--Heather David

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