RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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Showing 276 - 300 of 1,279 comments

SWCphotography on April 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I saw no evidence of vermin when I was there, melting snow dripping through the ~6' dia. hole in the roof over the stage area was the only sound I heard. As William said: with a food source long gone… in 1986 maybe. I’d be more concerned with hooligans and the homeless. The best way in is to cross the Flushing Bay pedestrian bridge from Willets Point, then knock on the undulating glass door, after winding your way through 17,460 sq ft of retail space, find your way up to the third floor senior center, find a studio apartment occupied with several of the many “undocumented and uncounted by the census” people and ask to climb down their fire escape to the roof of an adjacent property, from there a short drop down will get you inside.

bazookadave on April 22, 2011 at 7:50 am

I fear no rodents but I am terrified of huge ugly juicy flying cockroaches.

WilliamMcQuade on April 22, 2011 at 4:06 am

You would be surprised. With their food source long gone they might not be that big of a problem.

BobbyS on April 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I would be on the lookout for rats if I were you. I bet they are really large and mean!

bazookadave on April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

Matt, if i go to the theater with a camera can I just walk in or is there a secret side entrance?

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Tinseltoes – Thanks. I’ll update the post.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I’ve never seen panoramic shots of the auditorium in decent exposure. It is actually in much better shape than I had thought from all the dark exposures I have seen to date.

lfreimauer on April 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

You have to realize that the generation of today, for the most part, could care less about the neigborhood theaters that existed years ago. They never knew what it was like, so they have no interest in it.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 20, 2011 at 10:55 am

I posted a blog post on my site containing many more pictures of the interior of the Keith’s. Check it out.

View link

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 18, 2011 at 3:28 am

The crates of auditorium artifacts are not in the building.

SWCphotography on April 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Of course it’s not apples to apples but for money you’ve got:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall and some members of the borough’s City Council delegation helped break ground Tuesday on the Queens Museum of Art’s $65 million expansion project (actually repurposes the existing building).
The RKO got a bit of a break yesterday with the announced ground breaking of a huge new complex of 12 story buildings called “One Fulton Square” adding 63,000 sf of retail space, because the first spade to hit the ground makes all subsequent development more difficult. In the nest 3 years Flushing Commons adds 235,000 sf of retail. Sky View Center adds 800,000 (that’s $815M not the $185M I said before)sf of retail and the just opened New World Mall adds 165,000 sf of retail. Add the RKO’s assumed 17,460 sf of retail and you’ve got over 1,280,000 sf of retail space going into an area described by all as over crowded already (even by Helen).
The large tarped space in Matt’s picture of the foyer probably has the crates of auditorium artifacts shown in an earlier pic. The balcony structure and stairways are intact and would be among the largest cost drivers if they were missing.

BobbyS on April 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm

So sad to see these latest photos. The Jewel is fading fast…..

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Yes, the first photo is from the main floor of the auditorium. The second shot is of the lobby, they built some temporary offices in the center of it. I’ll be posting more photos later this week.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm

This photos absolutely tear my heart apart. Jeeze… is that first photo taken from under the balcony overhang looking at the bare orchestra floor? And the second shot appears to be the lobby ornamentation on the southern wall above the entry way from the street entrance foyer – is that some sort of construction shedding in front of it? The shot of the upper balcony also reveals all sorts of horrors perpetrated against the Moorish decor. God… and last time I saw a film at the Keith’s, it was in the balcony theater (a double feature of “A Boy and His Dog” and the documentary “Hells Angels Forever”) and I sat dead center in one of the first 5 rows – about where those 2 x 4’s are framed out in the last pic. Undoubtedly, a restoration project of the entire auditorium would be a pretty monumental undertaking that would require deep, deep pockets.

Simply heartbreaking!

LuisV on April 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Wow, I take back my prior comments. These new photos are much worse than the current state of the Kings. Nonetheless, with enough money it is still salvageable. The question, of course, is where would it come from. It’s a terrible loss not just for Flushing but for the country.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 16, 2011 at 8:59 am

The shame about the State is that it was in really good shape. They twinned it by splitting the balcony off from the orchestra and much of the original design was still in evidence in the balcony theater. Could have easily been restored and we would have retained at least some vestige of TImes Square’s rich cinematic history. But… that’s a lamentation for another page! There’s enough misery to rue over the Keith’s.

BobbyS on April 16, 2011 at 6:38 am

Ed, I didn’t realize the Amsterdam was closed for 12 years.I was a tourist and wanted to see the theater and the manager let me walk around. A Jane Fonda movie was showing. The theater pales to the beauty of the Keith’s. Dark wood everywhere except the lobby. I was also a tourist when the demo crew were taking apart the Times Sq. Paramount in the late 60’s. Now that was a major crime and should have never happened. It only got worse when the Loew’s State came down years later.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm

How about when the owners of the magnificent and historic Rivoli Theatre on Broadway and 49th Street erected scaffolding around the facade under the guise of giving it a good cleaning only to reveal when the scaffolding came down that the facade had been stripped of much architectural detail? This was a deliberate move to circumvent LPC review of the property for protection and cleared the path for its eventual destruction mere months later.

Movieplace on April 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Thank you for posting the picture of the Keith’s auditorium. I had believed for to long that the auditorium was gone. I agree with Ed Solero, the Keith’s had a typical owner from hell. They obviously did as much damage they the could before the structure was given Landmark status. This tactic has been perpetuated for decades; Harry Macklowe tried this with Hudson Theatre, the Sutton Theatre facade was stripped by developers of a high rise, the Dakota Stables was ruined in the same way before demolition, just to avoid consideration by LPC. What is worse, city agencies do not talk to each other. The DOB will issue permits even though a building is being considered for protection.

LuisV on April 15, 2011 at 11:16 am

Yes Ed, Huang was a D-Bag and I wish there was a law that alowed us to send people like him to jail for destroying such beautiful architecture; especially when we all knw that theaters like this will NEVE be built again. Every theater that is lost makes the remaining ones that much more valuable.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

It was fortunate for the Kings that it didn’t have a malevolent owner who basically hired construction workers to rape and pillage the building’s interior. I’ve heard that gaping holes were punched through the floors in the mezzanine lounge area, exposing the rear rows of the orchestra section below. I have yet to see photographic evidence of those damages, but I’m sure those descriptions are accurate. So while it is rather remarkable that what we see in all of these current interior photos is in as good a condition as they seem, there are areas and details that we have not yet seen, which may paint an uglier picture. Still believe that the old place is salvagable, provided someone has the will and the means to do so.

LuisV on April 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

I too was in the Kings (twice) in the last year, but have not been in the Keiths so I can only judge by the photos. The Kings auditorium was bad but not irrevocable. I have no doubt that the Keiths is in worse shape.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 15, 2011 at 10:33 am

Having been inside both theaters recently, the Keith’s is 100x worse than the Kings, and would probably cost a lot more than 70 million to restore.