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My father told me that when he was a teenager, and young adult in Ridgewood, the Madison was quite the place. Many times stars of certain movies would arrive at the Madison when their movies were playing in the theater. He had seen quite a few people at the theater. Even if he didn’t go to the movie, he said you could wait out front of the Madison and see the stars come out of their limo (or whaterver) and see them walk into the theater. This even lasted into the late 60’s!
You are very welcome.
By the way, do you or anyone else know when the Rivoli closed to showing movies?
Speaking of churches, I wish the Madison Theater a bit east on Myrtle Ave would have been converted to a church. What a shame that beautiful theater’s interior was destroyed. Although not a theater, a church at least preserves a theater in the short term.
Do you know anything about the interior of the Rivoli when it was a theater? It couldn’t have been all that big, as when seeing it right before driving by the Madison Theater (Liberty Dept Store) this morning, it almost seemed that 5 Rivolis could fit into the Madison, both in height and width!
I was in Bushwick today, and decided to drive past the Rivoli Theater. The building is almost unrecoginzable as a theater. It’s exterior has been heavily altered. I couldn’t even tell on the ground if the theater originally fronted on Myrtle Ave or the side street the way it’s been altered! The only thing giving it’s status away is the high roofline (as seen in the above link).
Anyway, the marquee is long removed, and a sign above the nondescript door reads “Iglesia Pentecostal”. So obviously, the Rivoli has a similar fate as many other old theaters….it’s now a church (Iglesia is Spanish for “church”).
I guess that may be good news. While it’s not a theater, churches are usually very “kind” to the integrity of an old theater as it’s one of the few post-theater uses that does the least harm to an interior of a theater as theaters lend themselves very well to churches. Of course, I have no idea if it’s been maintained well though on the interior. Although the exterior has been heavily altered, it is in fairly good shape.
I just remembered the movie with John Ritter and the bratty son….Problem Child, which came out in 1990, so I was right about the date! The last time I was in the theater was in 1990 for that movie. Friday the 13th Part 6 was the movie I saw before that, and that came out in 1986. Between 1985 and 1990 was when I was old enough to ride the subway “without adults”, and that’s when my friends and I abandoned the Ridgewood Theater for the theaters in Forest Hills: The Midway, the Continental, The Trylon, and the Elmhust.
We usually would tell my mother that we were going to the movies to the “in walking distance” Ridgewood theater, but usually would head for the other theaters without telling her….
From the Midway section on this site, apparently that theater is unrecognizable now from around 1993, the last time I was at that theater.
Possibly, however it was very grungy the last time I was inside (again, that was around 1990 or so). If it was worse than that in 1979, it had to be REALLY bad then, because I couldn’t picture it being worse than the last time I was there.
I saw quite a few movies in the theater when the downstairs was still one theater. The last movie I remember seeing there before they split the main floor up was E.T, and that must have been around 1982. I believe the balcony was already partitioned off then. I don’t remember it being extremely dirty when I was there for E.T.
I can’t remember the countless movies I had seen there since then. I had previously though the last movie I saw there was one of the Friday the 13th movies (part 5 or 6?). I just remembered that horrible experience with that John Ritter movie I mentioned above, and I think that was after the Friday the 13th movie.
Here’s a photo of the el next at Knickerbocker Ave station, and the Rivoli is in view to the right of the el:
The Ridgewood Theater wasn’t “that” bad in the 70’s, while it was still one screen. However, of the three theaters still operating in the immediate area; the Madison, the Oasis, and the Ridgewood, thet Ridgewood seemed to be in the “worst” shape, but still not terrible. Ironically, the Ridgewood is the only one still operating of those three.
The Madison was the was the first of those three to go (and was the most ornate). The Oasis was next to go around 1980. The Oasis seemed well-maintained right to the end. The Ridgewood started to get grungy in the early 80’s around when it was split up into three theaters (and then later 5). I haven’t been there in probably 15 years. I love the Ridgewood dearly, but the last time I was there (to see some John Ritter movie – I forgot the name but it’s the one where he had a bratty son), the seats were ripped, you got stuck to the floor, it smelled, and I got sick on the popcorn.
I prefer to remember it like my early experience, which I already mentioned way up higher in this thead (when my friend and I couldn’t get adjusted to the darkness, and were tripping over the stairs in the balcony theater and laughing hysterically trying to hind a seat).
I don’t know if it had gotten better since my last visit inside, but hopefully it has.
Ah yes, the Ridgewood Savings Bank. A building almost pretty enough to be a theater….
It certainly is not a shame. It’s a perfect example of using an old building for a new use. It makes the new AMC unique, and not another uninteresting new multiplex, and perserves a piece of history at the same time. This is certainly better than if they had razed the Empire theater, and just started from scratch to build the multiplex, which is exactly what would have been done in decades past.
Oh, that is the Playpen. I walked by there so many times wondering what the history was behind that theater. I looked so sad on the exterior with the marquee with the blinking porn “XXX”, etc on it.
Here’s a photo taken the other day of the Broadway’s site and the unfortunate fate of the beautiful building. In the background is the shantytown that sort of took up residence in the former stage area.
I only wish I had my camera with me the day I was there when they were demolishing the building, the whole interior was visable from the el station platform at Myrtle-Bway.
I was sad to see it go, although it had been in shambles for years. A shame.
Camden, I have a question for you. Since you seem familiar with the area, do you have any idea what is in this theater shown below the Marcy Ave station in the photo linked below?
Do any of you know if the Aster theater was also known by another name, as I can’t find any information on this site. There is also a Williamsburg Playhouse, a “Marcy Theater” and a “Square” Theater that also has a Broadway address that is in the 300’s or 200’s. which is correct for around the Marcy Ave station. So were there four theaters near that station, or is the Aster another name for one of the above.
Oh, and by the way, here’s a photo of the Commodore I took from the J train the other day. Sorry it’s not “the best” photo because the window was very scratched:
Yeah, me too.
Although it’s even worse than my “dirty mind” even thought it meant! Poor theater!
What is in the building now? I know that since ex-mayor Guiliani expelled all the port out of Times Square and the 42nd St area, much of it moved to 8th Ave (although even that’s cleaned up now). There is still a theater or two on 8th Ave that has porn in them, although I don’t know what their original names were to be able to look them up for history on the site (although maybe one of them may be the Cameo). What was the cross-street for the Cameo?
Does anyone know the names of the other theaters on 8th that are somewhere between 34th St and 42nd St?
I thought I was just being “clueless”. Although since it sounds like it was near 42nd St, my first thought was that it meant “porn” movies in a polite way (although maybe I just have a dirt mind….)
Since, 1525 is a “Brooklyn” address, and it is on the Brooklyn side of Wyckoff Ave. The address still exists (unlike the Ridgewood and the Madison Theaters which were put into the Queens numbering system). 1525 Myrtle Ave, the site of the Irving theater, now has a listing of “Jasco Gas and Quickmart”….so I guess this answers our question as to what happened to the Irving theater…a gas station now sits on the site. It was at near where Irving, Linden, and Myrtle Ave’s all meet, along the Myrtle Ave El.
Did the 595 seat “Irving Theater” ever play movies?….if it did, I guess we should add it to the site.
Wait a minute, I think I am still confused. I forgot about the “Irving Theater” in all this!!! If that was actually on the opposite side of the street from the Madison, where the heck was the Irving theater!?
If the Madison was 1562 Myrtle Ave, and the Irving was 1525 Myrtle Ave (both in the old Brooklyn numbering system, it appears that the Irving would be south of the Madison (because I think, but not sure, even in the Brooklyn numbering system, the numbers got higher as they went north). So that would mean that the irving was south of Wyckoff Ave, and along the el. it couldn’t be too far though from the intersection of Wyckoff and Myrtle.
I would be interesed to know where the Irving theater was now that this was brought up.
Warren, I think I figured out the confusion. I read the thread at queensboard.com, and your post there actually clued me into the confusion of VG Nichols furniture. You mentioned that many old stores had fancy marquees, even though they had nothing to do with a theater. That got me to remember VG Nichols having a marquee back in the 70’s. I think it has since been removed (can’t remember), but it made me remember a photograph of the store on
If you click that link, click Ridgewood, and then page 8, there will be a photo on top of the V.G. Nichols furniture store building when it was “Triangle Furniture in the 1940’s, and low and behold….a fancy marquee. That’s where the confusion comes in, and the fact that VG Nichols is on the corner of Madison St and Myrtle accidentally brought the Madison Theater into all this.
I don’t have a password at queensboard, but if you want to solve the mystery there for Andy over there….
The Madison Theater is NOT V.G.Nichols Furiture store, although it is on the corner of Madison St and Myrtle (on the same side of Myrtle as the Ridgewood theater). I think the confusion is because the Madison Theater is not that near to Madison St. I don’t believe the furniture store was ever a theater, and it certainly isn’t in the Madison theater building, which is further down Myrtle near Wyckoff Ave, on the other side of Myrtle. The Madison Theater is and has been for quite a while the “Liberty Dept Store”. There are not that many businesses that have occupied the Madison since it was a theater. After the Madison theater burned it became “Consumers”. Then in the late mid 80’s, it became “Odd Lot”. Then the building was empty for a year or so, and it became the Liberty Dept Store in the early 90’s, and remains that to this day.
VG Nicols Furniture is on the corner of Madison St and Myrtle, and has been there since the 70’s. As far as I know, that building was never a theater (and it doens’t look like a theater either). It looks like your typical older “apartment over stores” type of building.
I believe Irving Ave runs parallel to Myrtle Ave, on the side that the “Madison” theater is on (even numbers). The odd numbers are on the Ridgewood Theater side, and that is the wrong side of Myrtle Ave to get close to Irving Ave. But who knows, the Madison Theater does not touch near to Madison Ave. Woodbine St is the cross street for the Madison, and then it’s another whole block away till you get to Madison St, so who knows……
Thanks for the info on the interior jazzara. I can’t believe it is now a fiveplex.
I remember it when it was a single screen theater, but didn’t go there often as it always seemed to play “weird” movies.
Thanks so much Mark. It is such a treat to get some interior photos, They are so hard to find of so many of the theaters (either current or past).
Those pictures are almost a year old now, I assume it must have gotten so much worse of the last year. Who knows how bad it is now!
What I find amazing is that the theater deteriorated so quickly! Obviously, it was falling apart before they closd it already, as some of the deterioration couldn’t have happened overnight. But so quickly it looks like a cave!
The photos apparently were taken in the fall of 2003, so all the deterioration you see happened in just a little over a year, seeing that the Marboro closed in July 2002!
Here’s some photos I found on the web of the Marlboro’s interior in it’s current state of disrepair:
I was on Jericho Turnpike this evening, and it is clearly in Nassau COunty. However, the signs do say Jamaica Ave. Actually, for a few blocks, the signs are actually “double-signed” with both “Jammaica” and “Jericho”. They are about 90% Jamaica Ave signs (on both sides), and the remainder “Jericho” signs, many times right nect to, or under the Jamaica Ave signs. The truth is, that the Bellerose is/was physically in Nassau County, so the address above is wrong saying that it is Queens. It’s just “Bellerose”, NY. The “Queens” should be dropped. However, the “jamaica” address appears to be correct.
Also, just for the record, the Bellerose is no longer a carpet store, it is now a “Martial Arts & Supply Center”.
The Bellerose is physically in Nassau County, not Queens, since it is on the south side of the street. The Nassau-Queens line runs down the middle of the street in front of the theater. There is no question that the theater is in Nassau, and not Queens. However, I still can’t confirm what they call Jamaica/Jericho in front of the theater. Running “Jamaica Ave” only gives you odd numbers, as someone said above. Running Jericho gives you the even numbers on the other side of the street, so it appears that address should say “Jericho”, not “Jamaica”. A simple way to solve this is to see what the “Carpet Store’s” address is, since it now occupies the building. What’s the name of the Carpet Store?