Nova Theatre

3589 Broadway,
New York, NY 10031

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Showing 26 - 50 of 90 comments

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 11, 2009 at 6:40 am

Thanks K.L., that works.

That map also shows what was probably the BLUEBIRD Theatre on Amsterdam and 147th Street and what looks like a film studio on Amsterdam and 150th Street.

Kaleda on September 11, 2009 at 1:10 am

this is the link to the map from the NYPL website, let me know if it works. It shows both the Bunny theater and the Hamilton on the other side of Broadway
View link

Kaleda on September 5, 2009 at 8:31 pm

P.S. I do not see the post from the day I was able to talk someone into letting me up on the roof! I was only able to walk on the “stage house” roof and could not climb over to the broadway frontage where I was told the bunnies are sitting to be restored. The land is owned by Columbia University so …

Kaleda on September 5, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Sorry that I have not posted in a while, but I can only check from borrowed computers until my new one is delivered and I get my old notes off of the busted on, I am in Dell hell. I will post the link to the maps in the next weeks once I have full access. From the old map the front was the full block of Broadway (the area now used by stores and the new church) and the “stage house” was the area now used by the 99 cent store. There might have been a roof top garden as this was the norm in the days before air conditioning as the area grew with the first subway that ended on 145th and Broadway. There are five old legit theater buildings between 135 and the Bunny on Broadway alone, with others on Amsterdamn. Most have been converted into supermarkets, churches or 99 cent stores!

marine on September 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Well in the 80’s that theater was actually dangerous. A lot of diff. things went on in there, drugs (using and dealing), drinking, sex, etc. I started going there when I was like 13 with friends and sometimes by myself. The layout was huge and old, it was pretty amazing though since the screen was also huge! The picture of the theater that you put up with Delta Force and The Hills Have Eyes 2 was actually one of the weeks that I went to it, to be fair I was there for every new movie! The lobby area was typical of an old theater, no neon just one sheet cases with upcoming movies with fluorescent lights. The concession stand was huge and on the middle of the “hill” not at the base as it was later. I know the neighborhood was originally called Hamilton Heights but it is Harlem and Harlem in the 80’s was as rough as you get. Today, Washington Heights has started to swallow this part of Harlem and it is almost sad since I actually liked the way it used to be.
Thanks for that picture it reminded me that there used to be a Cleaners next door, I actually forgot it was there and it also shows the KFC that I was referring to, so sad that it has all gone away! BTW: The vacant store next door eventually became a very nice Pet Store.

Lets keep talking though this forum if you don’t mind, I will answer all your questions the best I can.

Ace on September 4, 2009 at 9:49 am

Thanks! I asked about the shadyness of the theater because I’ve heard stories about the theater myself from my parents, when they used to take me and my brother to both the Nova and the Coliseum when we were kids. My mother first moved to the neighborhood in 1982, and still lives here to this day.

So it used to be a single-screen before it was twinned (and later triplexed? Interesting. How big was the single-screen configuration?

If you haven’t already, check out photos of the Nova during its last days in an earlier post of mine. Did the interior look like that even back in the ‘80’s? Looking back I always enjoyed the neon-ridden, blue interior. It made me feel as if I were in a genuine movie theater, not some flashy, bland multiplex.

If you have an e-mail, I’d like to continue talking with you about the Nova and the neighborhood overall. I’m always hungry for history on this great, ever-changing neighborhood of Hamilton Heights.

marine on September 3, 2009 at 11:28 pm

I live in the neighborhood from 1983 till 1994. I used to watch movies in the Nova in the 80’s when it was a single screen theater. I used to love the double feature weeks, I alays remember sneaking a bag of popcorn and a 25 cent juice. By the time I got hired by Jesus Nova it was already a twin. I though it was a fairly sized theater for a neighborhood theater.
To address the shadyness of the theater, the theater was run by great people but the neighborhood was and is a pretty rough neighborhood. I have had fights, knives pulled out and in one occasion had a gun flashed. I always felt that at any time crazyness could happen but this was not the theaters fault but the clientele’s. Starting with Boyz in the Hood we started having off duty cops check everyone at the door for weapons and such for big premiers and this reallly helped things. To note a positive we used to have a great relationship with the KFC next door and get free chicken all the time, haha!!!

Ace on September 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Indeed. They might as well remove the rest of the historic facade while they’re at it. It just isn’t the same without the bunny heads and the “Bunny” name plate.

If its of any consolation to anyone………the 99 cent store is really nice. They’ve got virtually everything. Best one of its kind in the neighborhood. Very big. Makes sense considering 2-3 theater rooms used to be housed in there.

Bway on September 3, 2009 at 7:15 pm

What a shame! It’s a horror what they have done comparing to the photo of the theater above, when it was still operating. Thanks for the photos, no matter how depressing.

Kaleda on August 20, 2009 at 10:46 pm

I have been to the roof of the stage house, but I could not see the front of the roof to see if the bunnies are still there to be replaced. I was told by an employee that the building is owned by Columbia University so I don’t have a lot of hope for restoration. I will post my photos and find the link to the historic maps once I can get them off of my old busted computer.

marine on August 19, 2009 at 5:53 pm

I worked at the Nova when it was a Twin from about 1990 till around 1993. I don’t remember the exact dates but if you have any questions feel free to ask. I was employed as an usher but have ran the ticket booth, concession stand, and even cleaned the theater at night a few times. I came to the Nova when Total Recall was playing and also Another 48 Hours. Sadly enough, I don’t remember what movie was playing when I left. Jesus Nova was a great boss but what was impressive is how much he cared for the communities where he chose to have his theaters. He grew up close to the Nova and continued to live close by till the time I left. Anyway, if you have anything to ask of me let me know and I will answer to the best of my abilities.

esk on July 27, 2009 at 9:53 am

I live around the corner from the theater and was very saddened to see that they had removed the wonderful facade. Does anyone know what they will do with the name and hare heads?

Ace on July 27, 2009 at 5:02 am

Thanks for the links Lost Memory! Those photos are great! The appearance of the Nova in that circa-1983 photo is identical to how it looked it its brief cameo in “Death Wish 3” (1985). As previously mentioned, “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984), along with two other movies I believe, were listed on the Nova’s marquee, and a location on the corner of 147th & Broadway at the beginning of that block was used more than once during filming.

Looking at the images, I’m not sure if the marquee used by the Tapia is the same as that of the Nova’s, as it looks wider and more detailed than both incarnations of the Nova’s marquee (the circa-‘80’s and circa-'90’s) look. I found another photo of the Nova in that same website, from 1986:

Guess there’s now photos available of every incarnation of the Nova with the exception of the Dorset, right?

K.L Davis, hope you can update us with the latest on the site……I’d also like to hear more about this old map you’re talking about.

Kaleda on June 22, 2009 at 10:54 pm

The Bunny Facade was taken down! I went to take pictures of the renovation work on the building to post along with a link to an old map that shows the original foot print to be the full block on Broadway to discover the entire front is gone! The size would allow it to compete with the Hamilton Place across the street. The store manager assured me that it will be restored but… Gone is the memory of an early vaudevillian and film actor important enough to have a theater named for him. I will keep posting, and will post my photos once my computer is fixed or replaced.
Harlem theater buff!

Bway on May 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

These american classics images are great.

Gonzo on March 25, 2009 at 6:32 am

I used to visit this theater back in the day when it was called The Tapia. In fact, I spent much of my youth in that grimy theater and have many great memories. Recently, I wrote a short story called “Grace’s Love Theme” that talks about that classic grindhouse. Please check my blog…
also read: The Burning of Superflyville
the Tapia never burned down, but it does in the story.

kencmcintyre on July 13, 2008 at 5:31 pm

The Bunny is discussed in this April 2003 article:

owenspierre81 on January 13, 2008 at 12:19 am

Above is a list of the last movies that were shown at the Nova before it closed in late of 2002.

I hope you’ll like my list!

owenspierre81 on January 12, 2008 at 8:27 pm

NOVA movie list from 2002

1/18/02- Snow Dogs
1/25/02- Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
2/8/02- Collateral Damage
2/8/02- Rollerball
2/15/02- John Q
2/15/02- Return to Never Land
2/22/02- Queen of the Damned
3/1/02- We Were Soldiers
3/8/02- All About the Benjamins
3/15/02- Ice Age
3/15/02- Resident Evil
3/15/02- Showtime
3/22/02- Blade II
3/29/02- Clockstoppers
4/12/02- Changing Lanes
4/12/02- Frality
4/19/02- The Scorpion King
4/26/02- Jason X
5/3/02- Spider-Man
5/24/02- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron
5/31/02- The Sum of All Fears
5/31/02- Undercover Brother
6/7/02- Bad Company
6/14/02- Scooby-Doo
6/14/02- Windtalkers
6/21/02- Juwanna Mann
6/21/02- Lilo & Stitch
6/28/02- Hey Arnold The Movie
7/3/02- Like Mike
7/12/02- Halloween: Resurrection
7/12/02- Reign of Fire
7/17/02- Eight Legged Freaks
7/26/02- Austin Powers in Goldmember
8/2/02- Martin Lawrence Live Runteldat
8/7/02- Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
8/9/02- XXX
8/23/02- Undisputed
8/30/02- FearDotCom

I’m so sad that the NOVA is gone.

I hope you’ll like my list.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 2, 2007 at 7:19 am

The film advertised in that shot, “The Heart of Jennifer,” was released on August 30th, 1915. I’m sure it would have made its way uptown to the Bunny Theatre before the end of that year.

longislandmovies on July 5, 2007 at 6:00 am

Does anyone have creative entertainment phone number?

Ace on May 9, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Wow, what an influz of new information! Good job guys. I thought things had dried up around here……….

Interesting story on the “Tapia” name, and how the Nova inherited it’s marquee. As far as the neighborhood itself, the theater was and is located on Hamilton Heights, which at the start of the 20th Century was apparently occupied by Whites until they began leaving in the ‘30’s and '40’s as African-Americans began moving West into Harlem. Beginning in the '50’s Hispanics and Latin Americans gradually began moving into the area until it became a predominently Hispanic area by the '80’s (which is when Jesus Nova took over the Tapia). I dunno exactly about the history of the demographics in this neighborhood, but I’m guessing that’s about right.

Also interesting is how the Bunny incarnation of the theatre had a rooftop theater during warmer weather. Very novel idea. Don’t know if it survived into it’s later incarnations, I doubt it did.

Movieplace on April 18, 2007 at 5:58 am

Thank you Lost Memory for the name, it was driving me crazy.