Loew's Triboro Theatre

2804 Steinway Street,
Astoria, NY 11103

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Showing 26 - 50 of 105 comments

7thHeaven
7thHeaven on July 16, 2008 at 9:30 am

There was a small movie theatre on Steinway near 34th Avenue
in ancient times that is now a Lucille Roberts Gym. This theatre
I remember as a child showed Saturday serials, B movies and as
I recall my Italian uncle had said he saw the first viewing
of Rosselini’s Open City.
Is there any documentation of this
early Astoria landmark?
Quizzically,
Giuseppe

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on June 21, 2008 at 9:15 am

Warren, thanks so much for the pictures. What a loss!!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 20, 2008 at 11:08 am

Here are two interior views taken in the late 1960s that show the left and right sides of the auditorium. The color quality leaves much to be desired, but I couldn’t correct it more than I have. The left side view is truer, especially in the blue of the atmospheric ceiling:
View link
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alexandi
alexandi on February 20, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Thank you Lost Memory. Come to think of it, it was located on the opposite side of the street. Cameo was before my time. But I was right about the Olympia showing adult movies.

alexandi
alexandi on February 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Thank you astrocks!! Ed Solero said i could find all theatres here, but i didn’t find the Olympia. It was located on the west side of the street i believe. I can visualize the pink neon “Olympia” sign, in script. I don’t remember the Cameo at all tho.

frankdev
frankdev on February 20, 2008 at 2:11 am

The Olympia was located on steinway street Between 28th and 25th aves
Closer to 25th. at one time it was called the Cameo, and played regular films

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 19, 2008 at 9:35 pm

All those theatres are listed on this site, alexandi. You may want to track them down and post any memories you wish to share. At the top left of this page, there is a Search button. If you click the selection for “theaters” and then click the Search button, a page will open where you can enter “Astoria” and search “by City.” A list of all the movie theatres filed on Cinema Treasures as having existed (or as currently existing) in Astoria will open up.

alexandi
alexandi on February 19, 2008 at 5:41 pm

The Olympia Theatre showed dirty movies. I don’t remember where it was.
The Strand was located on the north side of Broadway just past Crescent St. It later became a lower level bowling alley. It might still be.
There was a theatre under the L on 31st St. between Ditmars & 23rd Ave., approx. where McDonald’s is now, that showed Greek movies in my childhood.
The Astoria Theatre on 30th Ave. & Steinway St. was ok, not very well kept. But Loew’s down the block on 28th Ave. was spectacular and grandiose. I must have been around 12 yrs old when they tore it down, and even then I thought why on earth, with the twinkling ceiling and ornate balconies and all?? If they had to tear one down, it should’ve been the Astoria.

alexandi
alexandi on February 19, 2008 at 5:41 pm

The Olympia Theatre showed dirty movies. I don’t remember where it was.
The Strand was located on the north side of Broadway just past Crescent St. It later became a lower level bowling alley. It might still be.
There was a theatre under the L on 31st St. between Ditmars & 23rd Ave., approx. where McDonald’s is now, that showed Greek movies in my childhood.
The Astoria Theatre on 30th Ave. & Steinway St. was ok, not very well kept. But Loew’s down the block on 28th Ave. was spectacular and grandiose. I must have been around 12 yrs old when they tore it down, and even then I thought why on earth, with the twinkling ceiling and ornate balconies and all?? If they had to tear one down, it should’ve been the Astoria.

AlexNYC
AlexNYC on February 2, 2008 at 12:29 am

John, thanks for sharing your memorable experience at the Loew’s Triboro Theater, I enjoyed reading about it.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on January 21, 2008 at 9:24 am

I only visited this movie palace on one occasion – it was on April 8, 1970. I was going to college at the time and drove up with my parents from Greenpoint on a non-school weekday to see “The Prime of Miss Jeanne Brodie” Maggie Smith had just won the best actress award for the role, and we wanted to check it out.

I guess in the rush to get our tickets, I did not pay much attention to the outstanding exterior, which I certainly now regret. The interior was another thing, and it really overwhelmed me. I had never seen anything so opulent in a movie theater – especially one situated away from Manhattan. The fact that the Triboro had not been separated into a multi-screen complex enabled me to experience its full, originally intended, grandeur. The fact that the place was nearly empty gave me a sense that this situation would not continue to last for long.

As was common at the time, we entered the theater after the performance had begun, and my parents then watched the portion we had missed before leaving. Since I really enjoyed the movie – and the ambiance of the house – I stayed to see the entire show until the end. While Smith was terrific, I remember being particularly impressed with the performance of Pamela Franklin, who played Miss Brodie’s “assassin”. The scene between the two near the end was particularly compelling and was something I did wish to view again. (At the time, I really thought that Ms. Franklin would enjoy an outstanding cinematic career. Unfortunately, it quickly petered out in the wake of several awful movie and forgettable TV roles.)

After finally leaving, I walked back to the nearest “G” train station and passed a news stand. Reading the headline of the NY Post, which was then an afternoon paper that was as stridently liberal as it is now relentlessly conservative, I learned that Harrold Carrswell’s nomination to the the Supreme Court had surprisingly been rejected by the Senate. (As a Political Science major, I was particularly interested in this issue – and elated by the result.) This is why I can reference my visit to this exact date.

Several years later, I found myself on Steinway St. and decided to check out the Triboro. Walking up from the subway station, I noticed that the huge sign announcing the “Loew’s Triboro” was not there. After passing a small development of newly constructed apartments and still finding no Triboro, I was forced to conclude that I had just walked by the old movie theater. While I was – and remain – saddened that the Triboro is history, I will always fondly remember my one visit to it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 30, 2007 at 5:10 am

I posted about Hellman’s on 2/7/07 (see above). Some of the early Astoria cinemas have listings here, such as the Arena and Arcade. Others have not been listed for lack of information and specific addresses. Some seem to have been conversions of existing assembly halls or beer gardens.

astorian
astorian on May 29, 2007 at 5:18 pm

I was a child when bomb exploded in the Triboro, but I seem to remember a Daily News headline that claimed it was the work of The Mad Bomber who set explosives in several NYC theaters. From the CO2 cartridge description, however, that would not have been true.

I grew up on 42nd Street near 28th Avenue and could see the Triboro from my window. My dad told me that the Hellman’s mayonnaise was made there, but if I remember correctly he said the Hellmans had a deli there and the mayonnaise was just one product, though it later became their main product. He also told me that before the enclosed movie theaters were built on Steinway, there were several open-air “theaters” that showed movies. One I believe he said was on the west side of Steinway at the intersection of 25th Avenue (across from where the Cameo/Olympia was built).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 4, 2007 at 7:26 am

A bomb exploded in the balcony of Loew’s Triboro on January 28th, 1956, but only four persons were slightly injured and the show was permitted to continue, said a report in the next day’s issue of The New York Times: “Several hundred patrons were viewing a double feature in the house, at Twenty-eighth and Steinway Avenues, at 10:52 P.M. when a two-inch cartridge filled with carbon dioxide blew up in the rear of the top balcony. The cartridge had been placed in a wall niche behind a curtain in which a house phone was located. It was of the type used to power toy airplanes and to inflate life rafts. The only damage to the theatre was a splintering of the wall around the spot of the explosion. The persons injured were struck by fragments. The Bomb Squad took the cartridge to the Police Laboratory to see if explosive substances other than carbon dioxide had been added. The injured persons were treated at the theatre by ambulance physicians and then sent home.” Luckily, the Triboro must have been nearly empty that night, despite it being a Saturday and traditionally the busiest of the week. “Several hundred persons,” if liberally interpreted as 400, would be about 10% of the total seating capacity of roughtly 3,500. The reason might have been a “bomb” of a B&W double bill from Columbia Pictures: “Queen Bee” (with Joan Crawford & Barry Sullivan) and “Three Stripes in the Sun” (Aldo Ray & Phil Carey). The booking was exclusive for the borough of Queens, but had played the previous week at Loew’s Valencia in Jamaica, where it had also done poorly, but not that bad.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 18, 2007 at 6:46 am

Although Loew’s spent a reported $2 million on building the Triboro, it also economized by bringing over the Wurlitzer organ from its Canal Theatre on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Located near the Bowery, Loew’s Canal had developed into a late-run “nabe” that could not afford the luxury of a splendid instrument like its 111/13 “Style 235 Special” Wurlitzer Op. 1699 (1927). In its new installation at the Triboro, the console was mounted on a turntable so that, at the push of a button, the organist could turn around and face the audience while playing and/or talking.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 17, 2007 at 6:37 am

I don’t think that the magnascopic screens were ever used to their largest size throughout the entire length of a feature. They would be just used to highlight a key scene and then shrink back to normal size. Soemtimes the screen would expand just during the opening credits of a major film and then diminish when the story started…During WWII, there was a manpower shortage, and it’s possible that caused some theatres to neglect using the magnascope.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on February 17, 2007 at 4:52 am

I recall in the early 40’s that the Triboro and the Valencia had far smaller screens than the type described in the article above. Was there a shortage of carbon during WW2 and did that have any effect on screen size? The screens had rounded corners.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 16, 2007 at 6:11 am

This 1931 article describes the advantages of the Triboro’s magnascopic screen: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/tritransvox.jpg

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 15, 2007 at 6:01 am

When David Coleman opposed the Landmarking plans, he claimed that he bought the Triboro for about $500,000, which was only one fourth of its original reported cost of $2 million. Coleman told The New York Times that “We have retained counsel who will represent us before the Board of Estimate in September [1974]. "The law says a property must earn 6 per cent on its assessed valuation and we fail to see how our property can earn anything if there are no seats or projection equipment left. All that was taken out by the previous owner, Loew’s. If we put 20 various buildings on that spot (10 commercial and 10 residential), the city would gain more than $50,000 per year in real estate taxes. That wouldn’t include occupancy taxes, sales taxes, and the rest. Not only are we losing, but the citizens of New York are too.” On September 12th, the Board of Estimate ruled in Coleman’s favor by rejecting the proposal of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It was the first time that the Board of Estimate had reversed the Commission since the landmarks program began in 1965. By January, 1975, Loew’s Triboro had been leveled to the ground.

frankdev
frankdev on February 14, 2007 at 1:00 pm

I heard that lowlife Coleman went bankrupt, is that true?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 14, 2007 at 8:39 am

After Loew’s sold the Triboro in 1974, the new owner used the marquee and its original lettering system to display this message in all three panels:
COLEMAN HOMES PRESENTS
STORES-HOUSING SPRING OCCUPANCY 1975
D. COLEMAN BUILDER 278-3955 H.PROPSI AGENT
Each line of lettering was centered above the other, but I can’t seem to do it in re-typing the message here. There was also more space between the telephone number and the name of the agent.

frankdev
frankdev on February 12, 2007 at 12:22 pm

Warren You always have great stuff, and again I thank you!!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 12, 2007 at 6:10 am

Loew’s considered the Triboro as one of its “Wonder Theatres” and advertised it as such when it opened in 1931. The Triboro cost $2 million to build (including the price of the land site). A front-page story in the LI Daily Star described the Triboro’s exterior as a modern interpretation of Aztec Indian, and the interior as Italian Renaissance. Here are two ads with the “Wonder Theatre” designation:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/triwonder1.jpg
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/triwonder2.jpg

AlexNYC
AlexNYC on February 7, 2007 at 5:32 pm

Who would have ever guessed a mayonnais factory preceeded the Loew’s Triboro Theater at that site? Isn’t history amazing?

frankdev
frankdev on February 7, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Warren Thank You very much for the above info, i never knew that.