Ridgewood Theater to close?
posted by Patrick Crowley on March 27, 2006 at 6:43 am
NEW YORK, NY — On Sunday, the New York Daily News published a report about the future of the Ridgewood Theatre.
Preservationists fear the opening of a Glendale multiplex could force the historic Ridgewood Theatre to close its doors for good – about a decade shy of its 100th birthday.
The Ridgewood, designed by architect Thomas Lamb and first opened in December 1916, is believed to be one of the oldest continuously operated theaters in the country, having never closed for renovations during its 89-year run.
But residents think the upcoming opening of a Regal Cinemas multiplex in the Shops at Atlas Park, an office/retail complex on Cooper Ave. between 80th and 83rd Sts., will bring too much competition for the Ridgewood.
I read an article in the Daily News last March that the Ridgewood Theater was considering closing its doors in the face of future competition from the Glendale multiplex. I even clipped the article for my ex-wife in San Diego as we had attended many a movie on weekend dates in the mid-‘70s.
As I recall, the theater was always clean and well-kept. The downstairs lounge was huge by any theaters’ standards, short of Radio City Music Hall.
It’s my hope that the owners of the Ridgewood weather any upcoming storm re possible competition.
THere is a strong reason to be scared. I go to this theatre and I actually read the article. The problem isn’t the people not going to the movies in there neighborhood- it’s that the industry will place movies in locations where they will bring in the most money- a multi-plex might be perceived as a safer bet if I was Universal and seeking venues for my summer blockbuster. This theatre is not a draw for people outside this neighborhood. It’s beauty lies in its location and the relative isolation of this neighborhood. The way that apartments and food are cheaper here- it’s the same with movies. THe solution in the article is for RIdgewood to carve it’s own niche and show hard to find foreign or art films. That’s an interesting idea- but not one I think should ever be seriously entertained. This theatre is a hang-out. Yeah, it’s dirty, it’s scary and kids smoke pot in the back row… Fix that. Make it a positive hang-out as apposed to a hide-out. The local economy can sustain it if it’s a place that is worthy of sustaining. And advertise. Please advertise. Give free popcorn night- advertise your before 3 p.m. $5 ticket deal. Make people aware of what you offer. Involve the community. Nobody wants to travel when a convenience is right here. Tell the Ridgewood/Bushwick community what is at stake. Ask for volunteers to help a clean-up. All the theatre needs is a good scrubbing and up-to-date exit lighting so you can actually turn out the lights during the movie (which is the most annoying thing about the theatre when you are watching a horror film). Advertise that you will have ushers remove annoying kid gangs that make everyone else uncomfortable. Make deals with local schools- it’s NY history and could use a tour. Don’t die quietly.
I surely hope the Ridgewood will survive. I have a lot of memories within those walls, both before when it was just one large theater, and after they cut it up into 5.
It’s truely amazing that it’s one of the oldest continuously operating theaters IN THE COUNTRY (haha, having never closed for renovations….and it shows!!). But seriously, from recent photos I have seen in the Ridgewood’s section on this site, it’s really not “that” bad. It appears to be in better shape than when I was last in it a decade and a half ago!
Let’s hope the old workhorse will continue to putter on.
RECENT PRESS COVERAGE & PETITION
“Queens Residents Push For Landmarking of Ridgewood Theatre,” (Interview with Michael Perlman, Chair of Friends of Ridgewood Theatre), NY 1 News, Jan 23, 2009:
“Ridgewood Theatre May Be Landmarked: LPC To Hold Hearings In Near Future,” Times NewsWeekly, Jan 15, 2009: View link
“City Eyes Ridgewood Theatre Landmark,” Ridgewood Ledger, Jan 15, 2009: View link
**Please sign the petition to Landmark the historic Ridgewood Theatre, post a comment, and forward link to all of your contacts. Your help is crucial & much appeciated: View link
The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to formally consider the designations of West Park Presbyterian Church, Fort Washington Presbyterian Church and Audubon Park Historic District in Manhattan; Ridgewood Theatre in Queens, and Brooklyn Union Gas Co. Building in Brooklyn.
The press release in its entirety is as follows: