RKO Alden Theatre

165-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Showing 26 - 50 of 123 comments

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on July 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

I have to take exception to the profile that states that the Alden was turned into a quad. Not in my excellent memory bank, it wasn’t. It closed around the same time as the Valencia, across Jamaica Avenue, but while that theater was given a rebirth as a church, the Alden just remained a hulking derelict, without ever being divided. I used to catch the Q-5 bus at Hillside and 169th, and ride it all the way to the end of the line, in Rosedale, and the bus route passed right next to both theaters. As a matter of fact, there was a bus terminal behind the Valencia, and the Q-5 would sit there for about ten minutes, before moving on its route. Gone are the days!

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 12, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I just came across this very interesting page. I especially liked the great photo posted last June 4th by J.F. Lundy. As one who frequently rides the Q-54, the current embodiment of the old trolley line depicted in this picture, I could just imagine traversing the long, Jamaica to Williamsburg Bridge Plaza route, in that ancient tram.

A question that came to mind while perusing this page is why more modest movie houses like the Alden survived longer than their more elaborate competitors, like the Valencia. The same point can also be made regarding the Astoria and the Ridgewood on the one hand and the Triboro and the Madison on the other.

My guess is that the more elaborate palaces were initially considered just “too beautiful to twin” – a paraphrase of “too big to fail” – at the same time that their more modest competitors bent to the economic realities and sub-divided themselves. This bought the latter some additional time, while the uneconomical single screen marvels just could not survive the modern era. This reminds me of something I learned years ago in my college geology class. In studying the old fossils, I noticed that the most elaborately developed species also proved to be the ones that were most vulnerable to extinction when climactic conditions changed. The less elaborately developed species, on the other hand, adapted to these changes far more successfully.

While exceptions to this “rule” certainly exist – I remember seeing a film at an already divided Bronx Paradise during the mid-1970’s – I thing it stands up pretty well – especially in Queens. Any ideas?

Bway
Bway on December 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

David, there were photos of the current interior posted in the past above, but I didn’t check to see if the links still work. In the meantime, here’s a link to one photo, the top photo is the Valencia as a church:
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The theater is completely intact, and well maintained. The colors they have chosen to paint the interior is a little garish, but it’s better than the alternative, which would be not maintained. It still looks good.

DLC
DLC on December 10, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Interesting comment by T'toes. Thanks. My recollection is that each theater had its own magnificant architectural feature. Sounds, however, like the Lowes Valencia was the architectural winner. Has anyone posted interior photos of any of the theaters?

There has been some mention on this site of the Carlton Theater, several blocks to the east on Jamaica Avenue. My family went there back in the ‘50s to see the Red Badge of Courage. The total admission cost for the four of us was less than a dollar. The cost for my sister and me was, I recall, 9 cents and probably 25 cents for my parents. Years later, my sister’s wedding reception was held in that recycled theater, which by then was a catering hall.

Bway
Bway on December 10, 2010 at 9:07 am

I have no idea what remains of the Alden, but the Valencia is fully intact, and used as a church.

DLC
DLC on December 10, 2010 at 12:43 am

The two theaters (Lowes Valencia and RKO Alden) were directly across from each other on Jamaica Avenue. One had a magnificant ceiling with twinkling stars; the other had a beautiful goldfish pond in the lobby.

As a kid in the 1950s I would walk with my friends on Saturdays to partake in the current fare: cartoons, the news, coming attractions, and a double feature, usually westerns.

When technicolor films started to become more common it was always a treat to see a movie “in color”.

Since we never paid attention to scheduled starting times, we would arrive whenever and then leave when the picture re-played and remind each other that “this is where we came in”. It never bothered us that we did not have full continuity in seeing the day’s movies.

It would be wonderful, if there is anything left to preserve, if those magnificant old theathers could be restored to their former glory.

jflundy
jflundy on June 4, 2010 at 11:08 pm

November 28, 1947 photo by Ed Doyle with Metropolitan Avenue Car on Jamaica Avenue running to 168th Street.
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297maujer
297maujer on May 23, 2010 at 12:34 am

I think this became a DMV.

RobertR
RobertR on April 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Jamaica Avenue entrance
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The side marquee after the closing
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Bway
Bway on April 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Do any of the architectual features of the Alden remain in the store is being used as? What is it today?

PKoch
PKoch on September 25, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Try this, also see links in my post of May 12 2004 :

http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?24041

Asher
Asher on September 25, 2007 at 10:32 pm

I am in need of pictures of this theatre badly. Please respond if anyone has any original pictures of this theatre.

Asher
Asher on September 19, 2007 at 6:23 pm

I would like to know if anyone has original pictures of the theatre and the building on 165th Street. The picture from WARREN which is a clipping of a newspaper article is great!

www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/shujam28.jpg

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 8, 2007 at 3:13 am

That facade still exists along 165th, Warren, largely as it appears in the rendering – albeit without the marquee. I’m also sure some of the window fenestration has been altered, but I believe the decorative parapet work is still intact. I noticed it just the other day as I was traveling on the LIRR. I’ll have to take another look next time I pass on the train.

PKoch
PKoch on February 12, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Thanks, Warren. Wow ! Hot black chicks and two late ‘40’s Universal monster movies ! What a combination ! Just in time for Valentine’s Day 2007 !

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 21, 2007 at 10:25 pm

While it may be true that anyone can order photos from the Municipal Archives, I for am quite appreciative of youngnyer1’s efforts to share them with the rest of us here at CT. Thanks a bunch, friend! Looks like you’re saving fellow members a lot of time and money by sharing your collection.

Bway
Bway on January 19, 2007 at 6:55 pm

There’s a good photo of the Parthenon Theater on the Queenspix.com website, on the Ridgewood page.

PKoch
PKoch on January 19, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Thanks, Warren, I’ll go to your links, but I’m not spending $ 30 per photo and a 5 to 6 week wait for one photo of a theater. I daresay many others on this site won’t, either.

Bway
Bway on January 19, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Yes keep them coming. ESPECIALLY the Ridgewood. Are these photos online somewhere, or did you have to obtain them somehow?

Bway
Bway on January 19, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Wow, that would be really nice! I have seen plenty of old photos of the Madison (not that I wouldn’t want to see more), but the Ridgewood’s exterior (and especially interior) shots are hard to come by. I have only seen a few old exterior photos of the Ridgewood, and NONE of the interior…..so anything on the Ridgewood would be most welcome.

PKoch
PKoch on January 19, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Thanks, youngnyer1. I’ll look forward to more of these photos.

What have you got for the Ridgewood and RKO Madison Theaters ?

youngnyer1
youngnyer1 on January 18, 2007 at 5:25 pm

This photo was taken in 1941 and shows that “Sergeant York,” was playing, which starred Gary Cooper and Joan Leslie.

The large black dot in the lower right corner is a hole in the negative. Many of the negatives in the collection have began to decompose from age.

This photo is from the NYC Municipal Archives. Between 1939 and 1941, the City of New York, for tax purposes, took photos of all standing buildings in the five boroughs.

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Check my other comments to see more photos from this collection.

PKoch
PKoch on September 18, 2006 at 6:56 pm

You’re welcome, LuisV. Thank YOU ! I’d never been to the Valencia or the Alden, only heard about them, and seen pictures of them. Yes, the RKO Madison was a beautiful show-house in its day, and the Elmwood was a sight to see, too.

LuisV
LuisV on September 18, 2006 at 6:50 pm

Thanks for the info! Now I remember that I was just out of college when I saw Creepshow. I know The Alden was already divided. I think I remember being in one of the upstairs theaters because it felt like a balcony. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the appreciation for old theaters then that I do now and so I don’t remember very much about the actual theater and what kind of ornamentation was still visible. Has it been determined if the theater is still there behind the dropped ceilings and retail walls?

Way back when, the only theaters I was passionate about were The Valenica and Radio City Music Hall. I can’t believe how many other incredible theaters were around back then that I never got to see like The Madison (from what I’ve read), Loew’s Pitkin, The Midway (Before the plexing), The Triboro, and it goes on and on and on. I’m even sorry about the theaters I only got to see only once like RKO Keith’s in Flushing and the Elmwood.

Nonetheless, for all that we’ve lost I am also grateful for what has been saved though it will never be enough.