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A circa 1950 photo of this theater is available at this site.
The Newkirk Theater was located over the BRT Brighton Line Newkirk Avenue station circa 1916 to 1933. This was an express stop on the rapid transit system from downtown Brooklyn to Coney Island. In 1922 the BRT became the BMT and then in 1940 the BMT Division of the Board of Transportation of the City of New York and circa 1953 the Transit Authority. The nearby Leader Theater on Coney Island Avenue which was newer, bigger and better spelled the doom of this small house.
Not sure of it’s address but Parthenon was located close to Ridgewood, close by the EL.
During the Second World War there was a tremendous increase in movie going in North America.
Thaters which had closed during the Depression were reopened and the number of daily showings increasded in the busiest areas. In Canada children were banned from theaters for the duration to free up seats for adults involved in the war effort. Some theaters ran the program around the clock to cater to defense workers working the swing and graveyard shifts. ( Canadian comic books went to black and white printing, producing copies of USA color comic books for local consumption to save resources for the war).
Circa 1943 Loews paved over the orchestra/organ pits in several theaters to allow more revenue producing seats in response to demand. You had to see the crowds lined up in the lobbies and out onto the street waiting for a seat.
Back then, people would come in at any time during a show and leave when they reached the part they came in at. This was common, the way it was done, incompehensible to today’s people but part of the movie culture back then.
The Valencia was altered at this period in history, burying the organ console.
The original style marquee and vertical were modified circa 1947 when all the trolleys were still running in the area. As I recall it was simplified and background color of attraction board went to white. Old style was definetly better suited to the theater.
In 40’s and early 50’s elaborate advertising displays for main feature in lobby and somtimes above marquee outside were used to attract patronage.
The original marquee was modified at least once in the 1930’s and a new style one replaced the modified original in the 1940’s, most likely about 1947.
Seating capacity was cited as 2300 in an ad circa 1922.
Loews Kings opened on Friday September 6, 1928. It was built on the site of a seasonal outdoor movie park and the Flatbush BRT trolley depot and storage yard dating back to the 1890’s.
The site became available when a new carbarn and yards were opened located at Avenue N and Utica Avenue in Flatlands. The Marcus Loew organization was seeking to expand its theater circuit and the Kings was to be one of the new “Wonder” theaters in the NYC metropolitan area.
After the Kings was built,the Cortelyou Road trolley which began its run at the old depot, had to make a switchback on Flatbush Avenue to run south, turning west onto Cortelyou Road at the Century Rialto Theter and proceeding to Gravesend Avenue and then north to Church Avenue near the Beverly Theater.
The Kings feature vaudville with live orchestra, a large organ (Morton if I recall correctly) and silent movies. It was the number one Flatbush theater and was jammed with long lines of patrons waiting for seats in the vast lobby with brass railings and velvet ropes channeling the waiting throngs into multiple lanes.
In 1930 the Cortelyou trolleys were replaced by new electric trolley buses and added further glamour to the area which was well served by public transit. Despite this the patronage started dropping off as the Great Depression began.
In the eary ‘30’s the theater had been showing talkies for a few years and vaudville was dropped in favor of a straight movie policy.In 1935 double features became standard.
Throughout the 30’s, Erasmus Hall High School, located up Flatbush Avenue next to the Astor Theater, held its graduations in the theater on Saturday mornings. The organ was prominently featured in the ceremonies with one of the music teachers ( can no longer recall his name) performing in a quite grand manner.
The orchestra was quite large, being very long and dived half way down to the stage by a transverse asile. The balcony was very small and on the whole the layout of the auditorium was similar the Brooklyn Paramount.
Attendance picked up in the late 30’s and boomed during WW2. Around 1947 the marquee and vertical were updated spoiling the exterior harmony with a garish if spectacular look. The vertical was huge and had a brillant neon effect changing from gold to silver and impossible to miss from far up the avenue.
Patronage began declining slightly in 1951 but was still good in 1953 after which a downward slide began. I was in the orchestra on a Wednesday afternoon in 1957 seated by the center aisle at the east side in the first row to the rear of transverse asile waiting for the show to start; I looked around and saw only two other people in the huge house. I sensed that things had really changed and wondered how long would the theater last. Shortly, four men came down the asile wearing suits, one the manager. I could hear them speaking as they approached me. They stopped at the asiles intersection. One man said to the manager that the theater was clean but the beauty was somewhat faded. The manager said it hadn’t had a coat of paint in 29 years. Another said that it was too bad but don’t expect it. Apparantly this group was a corporate survry team checking out the house.
At this time there was still a newsreel but that soon stopped.
The site became available when a new carbarn and yards were opened, located at Avenue N and Utica Avenue in Flatlands. The Marcus Loew organization was seeking to expand his theater circuit and the Kings was to be one of the new “Wonder” theaters in the NYC metropolitan area.
After the Kings was built,the Cortelyou Road trolley, which began its run at the old depot,had to make a switchback on Flatbush Avenue to run south,
turning west onto Cortelyou
Road at the Century Rialto Theter and proceeding to Gravesend Avenue and then north to Church Avenue near the Beverly Theater.
In the eary ‘30’s the theater had been showing talkies for a few years and vaudville was dropped in favor of a straight movie policy.In 1935 double features became standard. Throughout the 30’s, Erasmus Hall High School, located up Flatbush Avenue next to the Astor Theater, held its graduations in the theater on Saturday mornings. The organ was prominently featured in the ceremonies with one of the music teachers ( can no longer recall his name) performing in a quite grand manner.
Was a Fox theater in late 1920’s-early 1930’s.
Park Theater located just north of boardwalk: circa 1928 had an elevated rear seating section similar to Century’s College Theater circa 1939.
RKO house for a while in 1940’s. Renovated 1947 with red plush decor and black trim. At this time Movietone News replaced RKO Pathe News.
Inner lobby had large balcony staircase but no balcony existed. Always roped off with ‘Closed" sign but led to projection booth.
A moveable summer box office was used in season under the marquee just off the side walk. Removed after labor day, a box office in south wall of outer lobby was used at other seasons.
Elevated seating was reached from orchestra floor via stairs on either side of entrance tunnel. Upper sides of auditoriun had banks of windows which could be opened for ventilation before air conditioning. Painted red in forties. Upper seating level about 250 capacity.
The Traymore and the Quentin were small houses in the Century Circuit not far from the Marine Theater back in the 1940’s. Century built the “new” Brook theater around corner from the Marine which was located on Flatbush Avenue on Flatlands Ave. When the Brook opened in 1949 both other theaters which were in easy walking distance closed. The Brook and Patio were then booked with double features which had played the Loew’s better neighborhood houses and the Century Kingsway.
Century’s Marine and Avalon played the double featured bill playing the better RKO neighborhood houses concurrently. In the early 30’s Avalon had been a Loew’s house but went dark and was taken over by Century. It kept its distribution slot in the scheme at that time showing Loew’s programming after the Metropolitan and Kings until double features came into vogue for the majors.
In the late 40’s the Kent was Century until about August 1948.
I used to go there as a kid. No balcony. I think seating capacity was larger, maybe 900-1200.
The Melba was a very old theater dating back to the late 1870’s or early 1880’s from what I can recall. It was quite ornate and the entrance lobby was long and mirrored and highly decorated. It was built in the gaslight era or perhaps before it but gas fixtures were still present in some areas although it had long been wired by the 1950’s. The last time I was there it was to see a double feature of the “African Queen” and the “Captive City”. It was clean and well kept at that time which I think was in August of 1951 or 1952 but a section of the balcony had been beem closed of by the Department of Buildings due to structural problems and so posted and roped off. The place closed a few weeks later never to reopen. I took time to check over the place carefully that day as it was a gem unlike any theater I had seen and had an aged, musty odor. I think it was the cost of repairs that led to its being closed by Lowe’s at this time rather than TV as it was well patronized when I was there on a weekday afternoon.