RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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Showing 326 - 350 of 1,248 comments

BobbyS on March 14, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I wonder how the Leow’s Kings is doing without any known parking in the area. And they are talking millions for restoration aren’t they?

gd14lawn on March 14, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I would think the proximity of the 7 train and the LIRR would mitigate the need for parking. Also, I seem to remember some big municipal lots in the area.

WilliamMcQuade on March 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

There is unfortunately no use for a big theater like this in Flushing. The people will not support it. For others not in the area you need parking. Liability there. you than need different types of restaurants. Unless you like oriental food with no other choice you are out of luck. You would than have to get funding to restore a theater with 2 strikes already against it.

Do not get me wrong. I would love for the theater to be restored as I there very early on in the bid to get it landmarked. Manes killed another dream & Schulman twisted the knife. Give the theater a decent burial & restore the lobby.

SWCphotography on March 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

There have been theaters that have burned to the ground and been restored. Restoration has run the gamut from shell to using the foyer while the auditorium is restored. I was also actually in the RKO auditorium this February and cost items like the balcony truss, hallways stairways and exterior walls are all still intact. A lot of plaster work is also there. It has been a convenient retoric to declare it beyond repair with no survey or photos. The Thompson proposal calls for a whopping $8M to restore the lobby, which is virtually intact except for the railing and fountain, most will go into the “steel cage”. The seating: a lot of the same thing and stage are the easiest to replace. The 17 story tower will cost $160M (assuming the foundation goes as planned) is a lot more of a technical challenge. But the real cost will be with the community, when you won’t be able to park, turn onto Main St. or cross the Flushing Bay bridge for 3 years because Sky View Parc, Flushing Commons, Willets Point and a host of other developments are all scheduled to go up at the same time. In the end you won’t be able to fit on the No. 7 or any bus line either.

WilliamMcQuade on March 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Thank the above plus Mr Huang & over 25 years of neglect.

What a shame as the outcome could have been different if not for Manes & Schulman.It is their legacy.

BobbyS on March 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Wow, I had no idea of the damage in the auditorium. I think you are right. It has reached “the point of no return” What a shame!!!!!!
It looks like a bomb went off inside……

WilliamMcQuade on March 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

The theater itself is shot. I thought it might be salvageable until I saw picture of it. It is beyond hope. I have been in enough theaters over the years all over the country & can tell you it is too late for the Keiths. We can thank Manes, Schulman & all the democrats on the than city counsel for what happened.

If they can salvage the lobby good luck.

SWCphotography on March 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

It was my observation that much of the damage fits into two categories: incurred during the dismantling of the triplex subdivision; or by design: the specific removal of architectural details and fixtures crated and stored in the theater. I have assembled a youtube presentation at:
The RKO is a community cultural asset that should not be compromised for a scheme that proposes to save a portion at the expense of the whole; the theater and lobby are integrally tied together.

SWCphotography on March 12, 2011 at 11:34 am

I was looking through my shots of the auditorium organ screen:

when I discovered this interesting “Beauty and the Beast” Character:

BobbyS on March 9, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Thanks so much….You cleared alot of questions.

Jeffrey1955 on March 9, 2011 at 10:47 am

“The presence of mildew in the local papers” is evidenced by their continuing use of unchallenged press releases from developers, architects and politicians.

BTW, that RKO.com website is understandably self-aggrandizing, as they make it sound like the current RKO has some connection to intellectual property rights for classic RKO films — which they do not. About all they have are rights to the RKO trademarks. Anyway, as noted, the RKO theater chain was completely divested in 1950 and subsequently became part of RKO-Stanley Warner Theaters, later purchased by Cinerama Corp. Its origins as the B.F. Keith’s and Orpheum chains, let alone its connection to the RKO studio, are but a distant memory.

SWCphotography on March 9, 2011 at 8:50 am

BTW only the 5,000 gallon water tank remains, not sure when the 10,000 gallon tank went, but you can see it in this 1973 photo. The September 2010 tornado knocked off parts of the remaining tank putting a hole through the roof mentioned before. Demolition by neglect proceeds, now you can read about dampness and perhaps even the presence of mildew in the local papers.

BobbyS on March 9, 2011 at 7:11 am

Thanks all. I thought I heard the RKO name involved in something. I knew the studio was sold to Lucille Ball & Desi in the 50"s but the theaters remained. Like I mentioned before, I toured the Albee Theater in Cinn and it had all that wonderful zig zag white bulb chasers on the marquee as well as the large vertical. It was something to see at night! And that was 1980.

Jeffrey1955 on March 8, 2011 at 9:47 pm

That’s a loaded question, BobbyS! For an unusually through and complete history of RKO Pictures and the theater chain, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RKO_Pictures I had assumed RKO went completely under years ago, when General Tire finally relinquished RKO General, but apparently the name was kept alive as RKO Pictures LLC, founded by Ted Hartley and Dina Merrill in 1989, with offices in LA and NY. However, they have no connection with either the theaters or the rights to RKO films.

BobbyS on March 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm

On my next flight over Flushing, which will be very soon, I will look out the window for the water tower of the Keith’s. Is there still an RKO company? And where are they located?

BobbyS on March 8, 2011 at 9:22 am

I went to the Dec 19th photo. I think the theater I see is not the Keith’s arriving at LGA. Is there another theater building around there? We pass right over it as we land. I know for years there was a rather large marquee and a vertical that has been since stripped. I can’t imagine there are two remaing large empty theaters in one area. Maybe I am thinking of the roof sign on the Keith’s. I would love to attend Loews Paradise in the Bronx, but nothing on the menu interests me.

Jeffrey1955 on March 8, 2011 at 9:11 am

BobbyS, not sure what sign you are thinking of. There was once a small RKO sign perpendicular to the upper facade; there was also a larger RKO Keith’s scaffolding-type sign above the left-hand side of the storefronts. Both can be seen in the 70s-era shots posted by SWC on December 19. They’ve been gone for some time.

BobbyS on March 8, 2011 at 7:48 am

I have to agree with Jeffery1955. I still get a “chill” when I come to NY and we fly over NYC on a clear day. When I fly to LGA, the plane always passes over the Keith’s. I have been doing this for 40 years. When did they take down the signage? Wasn’t there a large vertical or perhaps I am thnking of a roof sign. This building is easy to spot in Flushing for a theater lover!

Jeffrey1955 on March 8, 2011 at 7:30 am

I’m the last one to be a party pooper, SWC, but images like that still make me squirm 9 ½ years later, and I’m sure many others as well. Point made, but not a great way to do it. (Not attacking you, just saying…bad idea.)

SWCphotography on March 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Hey that was kinda close! Good thing they got that variance – close enough to make a glass wall undulate:

BobbyS on March 7, 2011 at 9:30 pm

You guys are hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bazookadave on March 7, 2011 at 10:38 am

LOL Dang ya got me! :)

Jeffrey1955 on March 7, 2011 at 10:10 am

The dentist’s hygienist undoubtedly removed the plaque.
Sorry, you left yourself open for that one. Open wide, in fact.