Polk Theater

93-09 37th Avenue,
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

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Showing 26 - 50 of 139 comments

Jeffrey1955 on April 2, 2008 at 7:42 pm

I know I saw that series, but I can’t remember how long ago it was. I do have Robert Caro’s Moses biography, The Power Broker, which is of course the authoritative work and the basis for much of what was said about him in the film. Fascinating, and deeply flawed, personality — and the ultimate irony is that, though he built all those roads, detested mass transit and was determined to pave over just about everything, he never learned to drive!

Anyway, now back to the Polk’s Red Hot XXX Double Feature, “I Can’t Drive A Stick” and “Rear-Ended Thanks to Robert Moses.” Sorry, all out of popcorn.

LuisV on April 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Yes Dave, it was Ken Burns New York.

I remember the section on Robert Moses and it is increduble how much power this one man had. With it, he did things that could never be done in today’s New York. Some were great things. He built the George Washington, Triboro, Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Verrazano Bridges and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. He built Flushing Meadows Corona Park (the largest in Queens) out of an ash dump and brought the World’s Fair to Queens. He built hundreds of playgrounds throughout the city and built many of the municipal pools we have today. He is also responsible for the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (although that is a result of his Brooklyn/Queens Expy cutting the people of Brooklyn from the shorefront.

His terrible things were legion. The destruction of a wide swath of the Central Bronx for the creation of the Cross Bronx Expressway, the same destruction for the construction of the Brooklyn Queens Expy and his total antipathy for mass transit which resulted in all available funds going to the auto instead of trains. Thank goodness, he never got to carry out his biggest potential travesty; the bulldozing of large parts of what would become the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District and the West Village for a planned highway system which also included a highway down 34th Street from river to river. The scene where he Moses gets his comeuppence is one of the best in the 7 part series!

dave-bronx™ on April 2, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Was that that Ken Burns-PBS series? If so, there is a portion of it devoted to Robert Moses, and how he bulldozed his warped vision of the future through neighborhoods in all 5 boroughs, with little regard to what the occupants of those neighborhoods wanted or needed. And nobody would stand up to him. He is responsible for the wanton destruction of many previously cohesive neighborhoods of the Bronx, Brooklyn and upper Manhattan.

LuisV on April 2, 2008 at 4:44 pm

I bought the whole series, but I lent it to someone who moved away and I don’t think I’ll ever get it back. I think I need to rebuy it! It was an incredible history of the city and something that anyone who loves this city should see!

markp on April 2, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Hey LuisV, if you ever get a chance, try to check out an old PBS series they run called “New York, A documentary film” You will want Episode 7. About an hour into it they really show the true destruction of the once beautiful Penn Station, a treasure in and upon itself. It makes me think of all the theatres we lost the same way. (Roxy, Capitol etc.) In the episode it mentions how “no one seems to care”, which in fact is why we have lost so many great movie palaces, and even some not so great ones, all in the name of what they call progress.

LuisV on April 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Hey Jeffrey…one more thing before we return to hot porn!

I still feel the pain about the loss of Pennsylvannia Station. I never got to see it while it was standing and the photos of it just make me want to cry. But, I do believe that losing Penn Station is the reason we still have Grand Central today. People were so shocked by the loss that the city created the Landmarks Preservation Commission which went on to designate all of the Landmarks and Historic Districts that we have today. The fight for Grand Central and the Supreme Court upholding the laws were a direct result of the loss of Penn Station.

Sadly, it was too late for The Singer Bldg (Congrats for knowing about it, not many do) and too late for so many other illustrious bldgs from New York’s past like The old Metroploitan Opera House (39th & Bway) and the Old Post Office downtown (where City Hall Park is today). Since this is a theater site we should mention the biggest crime of all, the loss of The Roxy!

Regarding housing, it is the city’s responsibility to create low and middle income housing or to provide incentives to developers to provide them. This is a capitalist economy and with the cost of new construction or renovations, no landlord can make money by renting to the poor/middle class without help. If they could, believe me people would be building them.

The city/state is working on creating 5,000 units at Queens West. That’s a start, but what most people don’t know is that the city does create tens of thousands of units annually though low interest loans and grants to create units throughout the boroughs. They also create many units through the 80/20 rule where most luxury rentals in the city set aside 20% of their units for low/moderate income people. It will never be enough because so many people want to live here, but people are working on it.

Now, back to “Lesbian Prison Guards on Holiday”!

Jeffrey1955 on April 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Well, you certainly make some very reasonable, intelligent arguments. I agree completely that the city has improved in many ways since that 70s – 90s period. But whether you “have to” tear down in order to build is open to question. Was it really necessary to tear down Penn Station in order to build a new MSG? Was it really necessary to tear down the Singer Building in order to build whatever that glass box is that stands in its place? Most decisions are based on the economic conditions at the time and speculation, not on real necessity. Look at all the additional “land” being created over the West Side rail yards, or the Atlantic rail yards. How much of that is going to be utilized for middle class housing — REAL middle class housing that families can actually afford? And how many housing units would be available if real estate interests weren’t warehousing buildings and controlling the market to ENSURE that prices are driven up? And what does any of this have to do with the Polk Theatre? Not a blessed thing, as usual, but thanks for the opportunity to vent!

We now return you to Hot Nurses in today’s XXX Polk double feature.

LuisV on April 2, 2008 at 10:06 am

No Jeffrey, I’m not. I am a preservationist. I believe in historic districts and I believe in the preservation of historic theaters and other significant buidlings of our collective past.

I am not using rose colored glasses. The fact is during the 70’s and 80’s the middle class was fleeing the city by the hundreds of thousands and being replaced by the poor. Today the situation is quite different.

I agree that the middle class is being driven from Manhattan, but that is exactly the reason the Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx are now thriving as the middle class is forced to go to other areas to be close to Manhattan. No one is entitled to live anywhere unless you actually own. I grew up in Queens and moved to Chelsea in the early 90’s when it was a borderline slum. The area changed and I had a rent stabilized apartment. By the time I was ready to buy a home, I was priced out of Chelsea. That’s where I wanted to live, but I couldn’t afford it so instead I bought a home in the Financial District where a new residential neighborhood is rising that incorporates many of the old office buildings as luxury condos. I also looked at Brooklyn, Long Island City and Harlem. That’s a good thing for the city.

I also agree that the city’s landmarks preservation commssion has been derelict in their reivew of potential Queens landmarks. Latest case in point, the Ridgewood Theater.

But I stick to my opinion, that the city of today is a vast improvement over the city of the 70’s through early 90’s when it was decaying, losing population and the subway cars wer dark, covered in graffiti and had no air conditioning. Not to mention that you thought twice before riding after 7 PM!

The city is expected to add 1MM people by the year 2025. Unless, new housing is built to keep up, it will mean that the remaining housing units will become even more expensive. It always boils down to supply and demand. I agree that it doesn’t mean it has to be built ugly. That’s another issue. But in a city of limited land resources, to build, you also have to tear down. The key is to keep the best examples of the old for future genrations and encourage the best architecture for the new; something that has been a failure in Queens in particular.

Jeffrey1955 on April 2, 2008 at 9:21 am

LuisV, your rose-colored glasses need a cleaning. The fact that large parts of NYC in the 70s and 80s were dangerous and filthy doesn’t mean that architecturally significant buildings had to be demolished to change things. Yes, there’s a lot of exciting stuff being built. But there’s no reason why existing stuff can’t be preserved and made clean and vital. “Economic feasibility” in the city has come to mean driving the middle class completely out of Manhattan, and turning Queens into a wasteland of architecturally dreadful Fedders specials (see ForgottenNY.com for details) without so much as a blade of grass around the paved-over front lawns. You’re confusing expediency with feasibility, and squeezing every last bit of profit out of property with responsible, sustainable development.

LuisV on April 2, 2008 at 8:49 am

Alto, the other day I was walking around Manhattan and I started realizing how many of the restaurants, theaters, clubs, stores, etc. from my youth are totally gone (I’m turning 50 next year). It saddened me. But I also remember that large parts of New York City back in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s were dangerous, filthy neighborhoods that were out of control. Stores, restaurants and, yes, theaters turn over or close. Yes, there was an “edge” to the city back then, but I was always happy to get back home to “bucolic and suburban” South Ozone Park in Queens!

The gentrification and renewal of the city has meant that a lot of change has occurred; mostly for the good. I’m sure most of the people who grew up in the 20' and 30’s lamented all the changes in the 60’s. This will always be the case. For me, I believe New York is much, much better to live in today overall than back then.

Unfortunately, movie palaces from the 20’s and 30’s are not (by and large) economically feasible to operate in today’s world. Lord knows, none would be built today as theaters. Thankfully, many have been preserved for future generations to see how people “went to the movies” in the past.

While a lot has been lost, much remains and I also find some of the new stuff being built in our city incredibly exciting, especially downtown at the WTC and Financial District, Atlantic Yards, Hudson Yards, The High Line, Queens West, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hudson River Park, East River Esplanade, etc. It’s Progress!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 1, 2008 at 6:01 pm

The author of that Times Ledger article contacted me for permission to use one of my photos of the Polk that I had originally posted above in December of 2005. I wonder if the photo made the print edition of the paper.

Here’s a link to the Polk Theatre album I have in my photobucket account. I think the original links I posted above may no longer be functional. There are a few photos in the album that I have to credit to others. The images from 2005 are the only ones I snapped personally.

Straphanger on March 28, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Here’s the link to the article

View link

Straphanger on March 28, 2008 at 2:34 pm

There was a brief article about the razing of the Polk in this week’s TimesLedger. The entire site will be replaced by a hulking 6-story mixed-use building with almost three dozen apartments and storefronts along with a bunch of parking spaces. Seems like another one of those gigantic tan brick monstrosities popping up all over Queens.

PictureLady on March 28, 2008 at 7:49 am

Thanks for the update.
What is most painful is the fact that what was once a beautiful and SAFE area is now so dangerous. There is really a lot to be said for “The Good Old Days”

Alto on March 26, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Passed by last week and it is entirely gone, storefronts and all. What a shame.

Still, it was a shambles and in a sorry state when it closed. I suppose its demise would have been even sadder had it been in decent condition. How I wish that I had the opportunity to be able to remember it from better times, but never got the chance. From what I’ve read and heard, it had quite a colorful history.

We are slowly watching NYC’s past fade into oblivion, right before our eyes. Gentrification, my arse. The borough of Queens as of late seems to be sliding down a particularly slippery slope.

Jeffrey1955 on March 11, 2008 at 9:27 am

R before E, E before R… doesn’t much matter now that it’s G O N E, does it? It’s just a shame nobody was able to salvage the marquee — especially if the original art moderne lettering was still underneath. That was a gem, and should have gone to that museum of vintage neon signs.

PictureLady on February 20, 2008 at 8:25 am

Thanks for the update. Does anyone remember the Dragon Seed Chinese restaurant that was not far from the Polk, towards Junction Blvd.?
Fabulous, beautiful, wide building and delicious food. The owner always had lovely music playing (not usual in those days)
We ate there very often and I attended a Sweet Sixteen party there in 1956!!

Straphanger on February 19, 2008 at 8:46 pm

The theater and the surrounding stores are being demolished. Scaffolding has been put up along with a plywood fence. They tore down the POLK sign and overhang a couple days back. There’s also a construction dumpster outside and it looks like they’ve gutted the place.

PictureLady on February 17, 2008 at 10:50 pm

This was a wonderful, clean, safe, neighborhood family movie theater in the 1950s. As a pre-teen girl, I went alone to see a Double Feature, Newsreels, Coming attractions and Cartoons. I wish I had photos, but I was just a kid with an Argus who took pictures of dogs and cats. So sad to hear what has become of it.

Jeffrey1955 on January 25, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Here it is 2008…is the Polk still just sitting there, closed?

Alto on August 11, 2007 at 1:34 pm

The theater still stands, vacant – no activity of any kind.
The storefronts surrounding it are all still occupied.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 30, 2007 at 7:29 am

Thanks for that, RobertR… Per imdb, this was a 1966 Russian production that Childhood Productions started distributing in the U.S. in the fall of ‘68 – so that “never before shown anywhere” notice in the ad is a bit misleading. I also wonder whose brainchild it was to re-dub the 2.35:1 process Sovscope as “Storybook Scope?”

Jeffrey1955 on January 28, 2007 at 3:51 pm

By day, it’s Aladdin and his Magic Lamp!
By night, he rubs and rubs and rubs the lamp…

RobertR on January 28, 2007 at 10:55 am

More kiddie shows by day and porn at night in 1970
View link

Jeffrey1955 on October 15, 2006 at 4:48 pm

Warren, do you simply have the world’s largest private collection of old newspapers? I certainly hope you’re not actually cutting them up!