Loew's 46th Street Theatre

4515 New Utrecht Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11219

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mchma367 on April 13, 2005 at 8:09 pm

It seems to me that all of us who are members of cinematreasures are all “theater rats” to some extent. It’s obvious that all of us love the old movie palaces and based on all the messages I’ve read on just this page, we all have wonderful memories of going to the movies at a real movie palace and not the blackbox big screen rooms they build now. I have enjoyed reading the messages of members who are my age and those members who remember the movie viewing experience of the 1920’s through the 1950’s. It has been very educational. The Loews 46th was the one place besides PS 131 and the candy store that was on the corner of 45th street that my mother would let me walk to by myself until I was almost 13 years old. Thank goodness for TCM, AMC, and Starz Western Channel which still broadcast the old movies. Otherwise I wouldn’t watch TV at all. I have been living in Atlanta since 1980 and enjoy going to the few remaining movie palaces like the Rialto and the Fox Theater which still show movies along with live performances. The other day I found out about another old movie palace being restored in my area to its 1930’s splendor after being neglected since 1978. I’m still optimistic that the Loew’s 46th may still one day show movies and live acts again. As long as there are people like us who still remember.

PeterKoch on April 11, 2005 at 11:10 am

Thanks for the info, P.S. 152. Sue Byrne sang : she had a pure, angelic voice. I last saw her in May or June of 1975. She had just moved to Avenue D and East 49th St. a month or two earlier, in April 1975.

jw10ec on April 11, 2005 at 11:05 am

I did indeed take my handle from “The Glenwood School” (supposedly the original name of P.S. 152. I am also familiar with the Junction Bar…but never was a patron of said saloon. I believe that my younger brother met his wife there though! Can’t say that I knew Sue Byrne and I’m sorry that I missed hearing her play. I am 52 years old…and was guessing at my approximate age when I saw 13 Ghosts!

I left Brooklyn for college in Vermont in 1970. After college I lived in Manhattan for several years. I moved out of NYC in 1978…and now live in the Southeast.

PeterKoch on April 11, 2005 at 10:44 am

P. S. 152, you appear to have taken your handle from P. S. 152 in Brooklyn, on Glenwood Road, three blocks east of Ocean Avenue, just west of Midwood High School and just north of Brooklyn College.

Are you familiar with “The Junction Bar” at Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues ? If so, do you know a heavy-set, red-haired folk singer of Irish descent, named Sue Byrne ?

PeterKoch on April 11, 2005 at 10:35 am

P.S. 152, how old are you, and when did you move out of Flatbush ? I estimate your age as about 53 years, from you being nine when “Thirteen Ghosts” was in theaters.

I am from Ridgewood, Queens, and am 49 years of age.

According to my dad, and people of his generation (he was born in 1919) television seems to have done away with many small neighborhood movie theaters. That, too : what a loss to us all !

jw10ec on April 10, 2005 at 4:52 pm

I grew up in Flatbush – within walking distance of the RKO on Church Av. and the Rialto and Lowes on Flatbush Ave. There were others in the area, one small theater very close to “the junction” of Flatbush and Nostrand Aves called the College Theater and another north of the junction on Flatbush near Farragut Road. This latter theater was converted into a bowling alley and was right next to Cohen’s bike shop. The RKO sat directly accross the street from the “Peter Styversant Church” one of the oldest in the borough. It had an equally aged cemetary behind it. I saw the 3-D version of Thirteen Ghosts at the old RKO – at night for a 9 year old’s birthday party. At the end of the film – there wasn’t a stop watch fast enough to have timed us running to the safety of the old Plymouth!

Seems like we had a great selection of theaters back in the day (1950’s – 1970) Now we have DVDs and tapes and Limewire and Napster and so on. What a loss to us all!

Theaterat on April 10, 2005 at 3:59 pm

Mike M ..I am about 3 years older than you. My neighborhood was Dyker Park section on Shore Parkway. As I said in my first entry cincerning the 46th. st. is that I became fascinated by theaters when I was 13. We lived not too far from the Oriental, Benson and Deluxe(qv).My mother would drive me and whomever I went to the movies with back and forth with the familys 1959 Chevy. We were good kids who loved to go to the movies, and the theaters were just as important to us as the movies.I would rather see a movie like the 10 commandments at a beautiful theater rather than a dump.Bet you went to the 46th.st and the Boro Park all the time. You were lucky to live so close!

mchma367 on April 9, 2005 at 8:30 pm

Hey Theaterat…I think you and I are about the same age. I remember seeing Batman (the Movie) in 1966 when I was 10. I lived ½ block from the 46th street movie house at 4615 New Utrecht from 1955-1969. Did you live in this neighborhood?

Theaterat on April 2, 2005 at 11:46 am

Typo above! The year should be 1927. She is not THAT old!

Theaterat on April 2, 2005 at 11:45 am

PS152…Thanks for your informative and insightful reply on the Yiddish theater.This fascinating facet of NY culture really piqued my interest. I am not Jewish, but I do intend to research this subject.By the way, my mother and her family lived on the Lower East Side not too far away from this area.She was born in 1627 and her ramily and her emigrated to the Mapleton area of Brooklyn in the mid 1930s. She remembers the neighborhood theaters fairly well.

PeterKoch on March 31, 2005 at 3:49 pm

You’re welcome. Yes, I meant the past, in Bklyn, about a century ago.

jw10ec on March 31, 2005 at 3:40 pm

I no longer live in NYC. If there is a new Yiddish theater scene – I’m delighted to know about it. I was not aware of one in the past. Thanks for the note.

PeterKoch on March 31, 2005 at 12:43 pm

P.S. 152, what about the Yiddish Theater scene in Brooklyn : Brownsville (“The Prince Of Pitkin Avenue”), Williamsburg, Boro Park ?

theatrefan on March 31, 2005 at 10:33 am

It seems like the original Loew’s Marquee might be hidden under all that metal sheeting that is currently covering it up. The way the light bulbs are arranged underneath is exactly in the same type of pattern as the Loew’s Oriental on 86th Street. The only difference is the 46th street marquee was in the shape of a trapezoid and the Oriental was a rectangle.

jw10ec on March 31, 2005 at 10:16 am

(from http://www.answers.com/topic/yiddish-theatre))
Between 1890 and 1940, there were over 200 Yiddish theaters or touring Yiddish theater troupes in the United States. At many times, a dozen Yiddish theatre groups existed in New York City alone, with a theater district centered on Second Avenue that often rivaled Broadway in scale and quality. At the time the U.S. entered World War I, there were 22 Yiddish theaters and 2 Yiddish vaudeville houses in New York City alone. [Adler, 1999, 370 (commentary)] Original plays, musicals, and even translations of Hamlet and Richard Wagner’s operas were performed, both in the United States and Eastern Europe during this period.

Yiddish theatre is said to have two artistic golden ages, the first in the realistic plays produced in New York City in the late 1800s, and the second in the political and artistic plays written and performed in Russia and New York in the 1920s. Professional Yiddish theater in New York began in 1882 with a troupe founded by Boris Tomashefsky. At the time of Goldfaden’s funeral in 1908, the New York Times wrote, “The dense Jewish population on the lower east side of Manhattan shows in its appreciation of its own humble Yiddish poetry and the drama much the same spirit that controlled the rough audiences of the Elizabethan theater. There, as in the London of the sixteenth century, is a veritable intellectual renascence.”

At the time of the opening of the Grand Theater in New York (1903), New York’s first purpose-built Yiddish theater, the New York Times noted, “That the Yiddish population is composed of confirmed theatergoers has been evident for a long time, and for many years at least three theaters, which had served their day of uefulness for the English dramas, have been pressed into service, providing amusement for the people of the Ghetto.” (For more on the Grand Theater, see Sophia Karp.)

(from View link)
Walking down Second Avenue on the lower east side of Manhattan, it is hard to believe that the neighborhood was once dominated by Yiddish theater.

Hardly a trace remains of the thriving center of popular entertainment that once flourished in this area during the early to mid-20th century. It was there that highly popular, charismatic stars such as Aaron Lebedeff, Jennie Goldstein and Molly Picon performed to sold-out audiences in shows ranging from light musical comedies to melodramas, with titles such as Der berditchever khosn (The Bridegroom from Berditchev) and Der dishvasher (The Dishwasher).

Music halls were filled with Yiddish vaudeville acts, entertaining audiences with a variety of songs, revues, skits and one-act sketches. Yiddish films such as Yidl mitn fidl (Yidl with His Fiddle) played to packed houses in Second Avenue cinemas and Yiddish songs poured out of the radio, some taken from the shows being performed in the theaters, some written exclusively for broadcast or recordings.

Today the only visible evidence of that glorious past in lower Manhattan is a series of plaques featuring the names of Yiddish theater celebrities that adorn the sidewalk outside the Second Avenue Deli. None of the old theaters remain. Even the famous Yiddish Art Theater, which provided more sophisticated, literate dramatic works than the light entertainment of the popular Yiddish theater, is now an East Village cineplex.

The theaters are not the only elements of Yiddish theater’s heyday that no longer exist; much of the music is also gone. While recordings and sheet music of individual songs associated with the Yiddish theater remain, there exist no complete or authoritative orchestrations of Yiddish theater or vaudeville songs.


So my friend, there might still be a place in Boro Park for a gloriously restored theater! Be well.

Theaterat on March 31, 2005 at 9:46 am

PS 152…This is years before my time. Sounds fascinating. Please tell me more whenever it is conveinent for you. Thanks.

jw10ec on March 30, 2005 at 2:35 pm

and Martha Schlamme…

PeterKoch on March 30, 2005 at 2:34 pm

Yes ! Leo Fuchs, Theodore Bikel, Molly Picon, Minasha Skulnick, where are you now ?

jw10ec on March 30, 2005 at 2:31 pm

Another possible approach would be to have the theater designated as a historical landmark. This would at least keep the building from further “improvements” and help avoid demolition. I’m sure the present owners might object – but that would be where folks like you Theaterat could be very helpful! By the way, your description of the area and accessability issues does not sound at all different than back in November of 1970! The biggest difference might be the influx of Hispanics and folks from Eastern Europe. These folks might have more interest in a community based theater than the more insular Hassidic community…then again 2nd Avenue in NYC used to boast that it was the Yiddish Gay White way in the 1920’s. But that is another story!

Theaterat on March 30, 2005 at 9:27 am

PS 152 and Mike M It is nice to dream. It would really be fantastic if the 46th.st. would re open again. This will never happen for several reasons. First,theres the neighborhood itself. Largely Hassidic and now with an emerging Mexican and Slavic community, it is doubtful that the new residents would patronize the theater. The then growing Hassidic community put pressure on the 46th.st and the old Boro Park to close on Sabbath back in the late sixties. This might happen again today. Second is the lack of parking-both public and municipal. The Boro Park area is the hardest neighborhood in Brooklyn to park. Many private houses have driveways for their owners in the front,so that almost eliminates street parking.There is no municipal parking either. One can make an argument for mass transit- the subway stops near the theater, but are people from the rest of Brooklyn or the so called outer boros willing to use the subway- especially at night? Third this would be the enormous cost of renovating the theater to its former glory.Where would the money come from? Would it be eligable for public funding? would the city council or other politicos approve such a project?Maybe a private benefactor can be found. I know that if I had this kind of money I would support it, but I do not.One can look at the Loews Jersey renovation project in Jersey city as a point of reference.Wether this approach would work in Brooklyn cannot be said for sure. I am sure that a group of volunteers would come foward to help out with things. The last point is would the current owners of the furniture store be willing to give up their business? I can go on and on, but I hate to be pessimistic.We all have fond memories of the 46th.st. Lets remember it the way it was. They cannot take that away from us….at least not yet.

Theaterat on March 29, 2005 at 8:50 am

When I was 13, I became fascinated by movie theaters and I tried to visit as many as I could to see what they were like inside.The beautiful 46 th. st. soon became one of my favoriter. The outside was done in an Italian Renaisance style and had two small towers at each end of the front.The marquee resembled that of the Oriental wich was about 2 miles away by the elevated subway on New Utrecht Av. The lobby had the usual marble stairway to the mezzanine where the restrooms were. The mezzanine was square in shape and you could walk all around it. There were also the stairways to the balcony here.If memory serves, I remember that there was a long passageway behind a wall at the top level of the balcony. The interior featured a lot of statuary work that was back lit in red or orange. The prosceniun had 3 blocks of seate seperated by 4 aisles. I believe there were 2 more stairways at the back end of the orchestra that led to the balcony. There was a seperate entrance from the orchestra to the lobby.It kind of resembled the Oriental inside, but a few different features made it unique. I saw film here that included Doctor Zhivago,A re release of the 10 Commandments(the perfect theater for this movie) Batman-( 1966 quickee wade to capitalize on the then hot tv show)A Man For All Seasons, and Howard Hughes fave Ice Station Zebra.The theater stopped showing movies in the early 70s. After that they had rock and roll concerts. but I never went to one. The building is now a furniture store. I was there very recently. The entire lobby and mezzanine is intact. I also believe the balcony still has it seats. One of the employees said if I ask the manager to let me see the balcony,he would probably say yes if I make a good case. He was not in that day. I will get back to to you if I have any sucess.

jw10ec on March 28, 2005 at 5:52 pm

I agree with Mike M. Knoxville and Atlanta have worked hard to show that jewelslike the Lowes 46th Street theater can be reborn. If the solid bones are still in place it takes artisans, passionate supporters and money to put it in place. Then it takes innovative managment to assure bookings that will draw a steady stream of admirers for what is shown on the screen/stage and the theater itself.

mchma367 on March 21, 2005 at 8:53 pm

The Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville and the Fox Theatre in Atlanta are good examples of what it would take to renovate and restore the old movie palaces like the Loew’s 46th to their original glory. I remember in the 60’s the Loew’s 46th street theater was still a very elegant theater although as kids we didn’t appreciate our neighborhood movie house very much considering all the popcorn and coke that usually wound up on the floor and the chewing gum balls that usually wound up under the seat. From what I have read above, the Loew’s 46th street is a prime candidate for restoration, if it can be run profitably by operators who are dedicated to maintaining it as it was in the late 1920’s. I have seen how the area around the Fox Theater in Atlanta was revitalized after a concerted effort to preserve the Theater as it was in 1929 was made.

jw10ec on March 20, 2005 at 8:07 pm

Knoxville Tennessee recently completed a $23 million restoration of it’s vintage TENNESSEE THEATER (The beautiful Tennessee Theatre is a jewel of historic Knoxville, located in the heart of Downtown. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and honored as the Official State Theatre of Tennessee, “Knoxville’s Grand Entertainment Palace” has something for everyone: classical music, vintage films, dance, theater, and stellar performances by today’s hottest musicians.)http://www.tennesseetheatre.com/default.aspx?typeid=6&main=main_news It now rivals the Fox Theater in Atlanta. A second jewel, the Bijou is moribund awaiting underwriting for rennovations as well. Since the Tennessee Theater reopened it has hosted The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Earl Scruggs, and a sold out Valentine’s Day screening of Casablanca! If you are ever in town – check out this beautiful Moorish theater.