Trylon Theater

98-81 Queens Boulevard,
Rego Park, NY 11374

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Showing 26 - 50 of 200 comments

DavidZornig on November 2, 2008 at 9:42 am

Hi Ed. I’m sure your question isn’t directed to me. Good thing, cause I don’t have an answer. I looked at the Cinema Treasures “Function” link, and barring specific criteria, I guess “Community Center” is what would apply. That’s what’s they put on the marquee anyway. “Cultural Center” is also an option, but either I think implys somehow that it’s open to the general public. Which I’m going to speculate isn’t quite the the case.
I could be wrong.

I’d also like to apologize if I implied the neighborhood around the Trylon was “crime” affected. I did not mean to imply so.
Roll down doors & gates are not as common place in Chicago, and the Trylon is sandwiched by two. There is certainly nothing wrong with business owners protecting their investments. Doing so asthetically would be something for community involvement.
Don’t get me wrong, Chicago still has some, but not in middle class areas. Every city has board-ups. It also has it’s share of unwanted graffiti. “Graffiti Busters” is a city wide program of chemical trucks that constantly cruise the city spraying off the tagging.

You’d think that if the Trylon remodeling had covered all the permit bases etc., that there would have been an end design or drawing on how the finished facade was supposed to look. One submitted & signed off on by the council person.
And one that didn’t include portions of exposed brick, broken face tiles/old adhesives, differing backrounds behind each poster box, and seemingly no attention paid to the underside of the marquee. Basically it looks as if the minimum was done just to get it sealed up.
Not in any way inviting looking, that’s for sure. And possibly something the preservationists could pressure the city about. Where was the oversight on what was ultimately built, etc. That could force them to fix the marquee, where a truck apparently hit it again.

GeorgeTobor on November 2, 2008 at 9:42 am

Indeed, this building is a disgrace. I am not against people coming to America for a better way of life. On the other hand you do not come to this country and desecrate a building that has stood for decades and one that has provided entertainment for the people of the community for so many years. Surely a compromise could have been reached. The building could have been converted for use as a community centre without the appalling changes. I would not be surprised to find that politics played a role in the conversion of this building. I do not believe this centre has any religious purpose. Merely a meeting place to help new arrivals be indoctrinated on our laws and help in starting a new life here. Any hopes of obtaining landmark status are now gone. Perhaps further destruction can be avoided if our voices are united and made known to the community.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 2, 2008 at 9:07 am

So what should the status of this theatre be? Is it a synagogue? Do they hold services here or is it more of a cultural center for the Bukharians?

LuisV on November 2, 2008 at 7:55 am

Thanks for your comments David. I agree with Ed Solero. Crime is absolutely not an issue in this area as it is solidly middle class, but make no mistake……an archtitectural crime most foul was committed here and, sadly, the guilty party will get away with it.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 1, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Hey David… The hood is fine – I don’t think crime is a serious concern. Tagged roll down gates are evident throughout NYC and do not necessarily denote a dangerous part of town. I puzzled too over the display cases left in place – but I suppose the organization believe they’ll be able to use them to post upcoming events and such. They left each of the cases on either side of the old triangular recessed entryway.

Here’s the last of the pics I snapped with my cell phone the other morning. It shows the right side of the new entryway and the other remaining display case.

Oh… and Lost… I forgot to respond that the new baby is an Edwina – or, better yet, Grace Olivia Solero to be more accurate.

DavidZornig on November 1, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Wow, I was just reading the many posts about the tragic odyssey of the Trylon Theater. It rivals in length that of our own Uptown Theatre here in Chicago. Minus the religious organization and a city council person who actually seemed involved at all. Though we eclipse the Trylon’s saga by 20 years. And have a happier ending in the works.

Since the Trylon’s last date of operation was 12/31/99, it’s clear to see that fate handed it not one positive day in the new millenium since. I guess it’s fitting then that it’s “Function” in the CT heading still reads: Unknown.

After seeing the most recent photo, it’s clear it would have been better off just torn down, and remembered only in pictures. Unless it could be rebuilt elsewhere like the famous STAX recording studios, from the original blueprints. The only reason it likely wasn’t torn down at all, was due to added demolition costs, and of that to build a new structure in between other buildings. Though the one on the left looks integral to it. Maybe an old after theatre snack shop or something.

Based on everything I read from the initial resistance, evasiveness & rudeness of the realtor’s staff, to the preservationist’s dismissal then flip flop from the council person, I’d think I was at home. And that it seems of probably having been a done deal from the get go. Just needed the time to bureaucratically gestate. The preservation effort was probably an unexpected thorn in the owner/developers side. Much like Chicago, landmark status is a limiting kiss of death to developers.
Probably why the municipal flip/flop took so long. Look Like a saviour after it’s too late.

Judging from the most recent photo that was posted, cosmetic considerations for the existing structure other than to make sure it had a roof, was never an issue.
It’s apparently just a usable, presumably tax free space to the tenant, given it is a religious use.

The developers and certain to be tenants would have been hailed as heroes, if their renovation plan would have not been acrimonius from the start. And they gave at least some appearance of caring that it was previously a theatre, and with a New York World’s Fair history. I’m not sure of the 1939 fair’s theme, but I’ll bet it’s now ironic whatever it was.

They could have at least kept all the classic signage, outer lobby details and just etched or blacked out the window glass. Those wooden doors couldn’t look more out of place. Why leave the derelict empty movie poster boxes? To make it look like you cared? Or was that just another end of project expense that didn’t need to be spent.
Again, it appears the Trylon was taken for granted as just a “space” to whomever.

Developers and/or tenants probably think they did the neighborhood a favor by occupying it at all. I don’t know what the hood is like there. The tagged roll up door indicates crime at some level & time.
At least there’s a liquor store for anyone who wants to go there and further lament in person, what happened and could have been. Sad.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 1, 2008 at 1:38 pm

I agree with LuisV. To have agreed to “preserve” what little they did of the theatre’s exterior is almost adding insult to injury. As far as I’m concerned, the significant historic elements of the Trylon’s exterior where the very items that were demolished by the Bukharians' contractors. That the glass block tower and upper facade were not destroyed is little consolation for the loss of the mosaic tile-work on the walls of the outdoor entryway and ticket booth as well as the vintage hand painted murals within the inner foyer.

This series of photos from flickr offers a look back at some of what was lost once work began. There are 7 photos in the series.

And here’s another shot that I took the other morning, showing the new and exciting look that replaced that boring old tile-work!

LuisV on November 1, 2008 at 10:13 am

I don’t think I have ever said this before about any other theater, but what this religious group has done to this theater is no different than if they had just torn the entire thing down. It is just that ugly and that reflects on the organization that built it and financed it. It is actually more painful to see the remnant of the exterior and be constantly reminded of what was lost. If there is any consolation, it is this: If they had torn it own, what they would have replaced it with would most likely also been an abomination. They should be ashamed of themselves!

johndereszewski on November 1, 2008 at 9:01 am

As one who lives a few blocks from the Trylon and walks by it a few times a week, I think I can fill in a few details about this theater and its recent history.

  1. The Bucharians are an orthodox Jewish group who have emigrated into central Queens from what was once Soviet Central Asia. A number of them have become quite successful and have, most notably, built many of the “McMansions” that have been constructed in Forest Hills' oldest residential community – the Cord Meyer development. This has, to put it mildly, generated a strong reaction from the older residents. (An extensive – and well balanced – account of this conflict appeared about a month or so ago in the NY Times.)

  2. The re-use of the Trylon for its present purpose was pretty much a “done deal” soon after the theater closed. For reasons that I am not aware of, however, the project did nor get off the ground and the old theater stood vacant for a number of years.

  3. When the project finally commenced, the Bucharians applied the same architectural aesthetic that they used in constructing the McMansions. Most visibly, the art deco ticket booth and outer lobby were rudely destroyed almost overnight.

  4. These actions generated strong protests from the preservation community, especially Michael Perlman. A “Save the Ridgewood” like petition was created and an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to secure landmark status was initiated. (Far more extensive accounts of these actions appear in previous posts.)

  5. While these efforts proved unavailing, some informal arrangements were made regarding the course of future exterior work. This is why the awning, which suffered serious deterioration during the years of unuse, was refurbished to somewhat reflect its former design. (Obviously, it once again needs more work.) This is also why the tower was not gutted and replaced by some monstrosity. Finally, this is why the signage for the center that replaced the Trylon’s signage retained the former’s style and lettering. The results may be as unsatisfactory as the previous comments suggest, but this did prevent the wholesale eradication of the old theater’s exterior. (Michael, I would very very interested to hear your take on these “arrangements” since you are clearly more familiar with the specifics than I am.)

  6. While I have not been inside the theater, the reports that I have received have not been encouraging. Suffice it to say, garish marble and ostentatious chandeliers have apparently replaced the art deco glory. While I hope these reports prove unfounded, I very much doubt that that will be the case.

I hope this did not repeat too much of what many of you already know, but I also believe that presenting a more comprehensive picture of this story has its merits.

Hope to hear from you on this – especially those who will tell me where I got things wrong – and where I got it right.

PeterKoch on October 30, 2008 at 9:15 am

Bway, maybe it’s time for some of us CT'ers to go “undercover” to solve the “murder” of the Trylon !

Bway on October 30, 2008 at 9:13 am

What a shame. The “renovations” are already falling apart. Sickening. They could have saved the beautiful mosaics of the lobby and ticket booth area for their use. Why did they have to destroy it?
I remember fondly the trylon, it was quite well preserved in the early 90’s yet when “Ironically”, I saw “A Stranger Among Us” there…… I say ironically because that move stars Melanie Grifith as she goes undercover to Williamsburg in the Hasidic Jewish community to try and solve a murder…..of course sort of fitting I guess for what the theater is now…..

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 30, 2008 at 8:14 am

The Nortown in Chicago served as a Pakistani-American community center, and looked pretty run down during this period. It lasted for quite a while, so I suppose the arrangement worked for them.

PeterKoch on October 30, 2008 at 7:28 am

Hello again, Ed. Congrats on your newborn !

Agreed, George Tobor ! How can it be an effective “community center”, if it’s so run-down, and so ugly to look at, looking more like a front for a drug racket, or car chop shop, or money laundering (name your illegal activity) than a public meeting place ?

GeorgeTobor on October 29, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Indeed it is very unfortunate LuisV. This building is an eyesore. Perhaps it would have fared better if it had become a place of worship.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 29, 2008 at 7:05 pm

In any event, the introductory comments up top are in need of revision.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 29, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Hey Life. And hello Peter. Good to be back. Actually, I never went anywhere, but just had limited time to get online due to demands at work and the demands of welcoming a newborn into the fold at home! Things are settling down, so I’m sorta back in action.

Anyway… I didn’t take the actions of the young man in front of the Trylon personally. I just found it amusing. I haven’t had a chance to try and re-upload the 3 other photos I took that morning – and they reveal in even more detail how horrifying this makeover of the Trylon’s beautiful and historic art deco entrance really is.

PeterKoch on October 29, 2008 at 10:00 am

Thanks for the details, LuisV. Very unfortunate, indeed. Misery loves company, so let us commiserate about the Trylon, at the risk of being accused of holding a non-productive pity party.

LuisV on October 29, 2008 at 9:56 am

It’s absolutely hideous! Even “renovated” it already looks like it’s falling apart. Some religious institutions take an old theater and revel in its architectural distinction and glory as at Loew’s 175th Street and Hollywood theaters in Manhattan, The Metropolitan in Brooklyn, The Elmwood and The Valencia (both in Queens) and The Stanley in Jersey City. Many other examples exist.

Others destroy what they find as these people appear to have done and what is currenty also happening to the old Prospect (Olympic) Theater in the Bronx. They might as well have been demolished.

Very unfortunate.

PeterKoch on October 29, 2008 at 8:08 am

You’re welcome, Lost Memory.

PeterKoch on October 29, 2008 at 7:58 am

Good explanation, Life’s too short. Thanks.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 29, 2008 at 7:57 am

Some Jewish people are very, very defensive. It probably has something to do with persecution they have received at various times in history. In the modern-day United States they most likely don’t have much to worry about. But it takes a long time for human beings of any type to change behavior. I definitely wouldn’t take the actions of this young man personally.

PeterKoch on October 29, 2008 at 7:47 am

I think that’s Uzbekistan, Lost Memory.

PeterKoch on October 29, 2008 at 7:25 am

Nor I. Good reading you again, Ed Solero. Thanks for stopping by the Trylon and taking photos.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 28, 2008 at 7:56 pm

I happened to be driving by the former Trylon this soggy morning and snapped the following low res – and rather sad -image of what has become of the old theater facade since the current owners completed their renovations:


I snapped a couple of other close up images, but my photobucket acct isn’t letting me complete their uploads at the moment. I’ll get back here once I’ve been able to fix that problem.

Funny… while I stopped to grab the photos (which took me all of 3 or 4 minutes) a young man wearing a yamulka and carrying a back-pack snapped a photo of my license plate and another of me standing in the street as I was finishing up. I gave him a nice wave “hello.” He never said a word to me. Just shook his head as if in disgust and walked away. I wonder what was going through his mind…. that I was plotting some sort of nefarious scheme against the center?

FormerFlixGuy on April 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I’m surprised this theatre isn’t listed as the Loews Trylon. I will remember it as such from my time at Loews. This tiny gem being managed by the incomperable Gene Thompson and Loews legend Julia Albanese of Loews Gates fame.