Drake Theatre

62-90 Woodhaven Boulevard,
Rego Park, NY 11374

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johndereszewski
johndereszewski on May 3, 2008 at 5:18 pm

The bowling alley at – or near – the Drake probably closed around 1960. This was probably the reason why my father’s bowling league had to find a new place to play.

Apropos Woohhaven Lanes, your reference is timely since, despite protests to the contrary, this venue is scheduled to close very soon. (It seems that bowling alleys appear as much on the endangered list as do old movie palaces!) It is situated south of the Drake – on the other side of the street – between Metropolitan Ave. and the bridge that crosses the LIRR’s Montauk line.

It’s confused geography stems from the action taken in the 1930’s that moved Woodhaven Blvd. to the east. Since Woodhaven – or, as it was originally known, Trotting Course Lane – served as the border between Forest Hills/Rego Park and Glendale in this neck of the woods, this action placed a small enclave of Glendale on the other side of the border. (A remnant of Trotting Course Lane remains and traces the original street course.) Woodhaven Lanes is situated within this enclave. So, if we are to be historically accurate, the bowling lanes are actually situated in Glendale, the above noted Google references notwithstanding. And you thought the Drake’s location was cloudy!

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on May 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm

p.s. As for there being a bowling alley downstairs, I really don’t recall that. But I do remember there being a bowling alley in the area known as Woodhaven Lanes — and if you want a classic example of just how confused the community names in Queens can be, try Googling “Woodhaven Lanes.” You’ll immediately get a page on which it is variously referred to as:

Woodhaven Lanes, in Forest Hills
Brunswick Woodhaven Lanes – Rego Park, NY 11374 – …
Brunswick Woodhaven Lane – Queens/Middle Village – Flushing, NY 11385
Brunswick Woodhaven Lanes in Flushing

How many more places can it be?

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on May 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm

John, thanks for that information. I suspect that the Drake would not want to be known as a Middle Village venue, because the Arion already was drawing the Middle Village crowd, and the Drake wanted to be identified with the area from which it was most likely to draw — whether that was thought of as West Forest Hills (at it apparently was initially) or Rego Park.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on May 3, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Warren and Jeffrey, I think I can add some information on the Rego Park/West Forest Hills question. As early as 1928, when the Rego Park LIRR station opened under that name, the area was – at least to a certain extent – being referred to as Rego Park. This was only a few years after the initial development began.In many cases, the name selected by the LIRR to name a station had a significant effect on how the community would subsequently be known, and it probably had no small effect here. (Incidently, the fact that no station was created BEFORE 1928 clearly underlines just how undeveloped Rego Park was at that relatively recent date.)

My guess is that the area now called Rego Park was referred to as West Forest Hills for the same reason that Corona was once known as West Flushing – the two lightly populated “communities” were just viewed as appendages to their more developed neighbors. (It’s funny that in both of these cases, the usual “west-to-east” development pattern just did not apply.) The fact that some people were still calling the area West Foprest Hills as late as the mid-1930’s just means that things didn’t change all at once. It was probably the opening of the Queens Boulevard subway in the late 1930’s that spurred the explosive development that tipped the scale on Rego Park’s side once and for all.

While I never caught a film at the Drake, I vaguely remember my parents taking me to a bowling alley that – I believe – was situated in the theater’s basement. I was only about eight or nine at the time – I was born in 1950 – so I may be confusing this with another building situated a block or so away. (Anyone with clearer memories, please join in.) The bowling alley was, as I recall, a rather modest affair that featured human pin setters.

One last point about neighborhoods that might confuse the situation even more. Since this portion of Woodhaven Blvd. serves as the border between Rego Park and Middle Village – and since the Drake is on the Middle Village side of the street – the latter apparently has a pretty strong claim to it. Does anyone remember the Drake ever being referred to as a Middle village venue? Given the fact that the Drake is pretty far from Middle Village’s center, I think this probably is not the case. But it is worth to raise the question, if only to cover all the bases.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 14, 2008 at 1:21 pm

A new direct link to a 1989 image of the Drake Theatre. By that time, the boxoffice had been moved to the sidewalk, with a turnstile entrance. The original boxoffice was in the right wall of the lobby, with a ticket taker stationed at the entrance to the rear of the auditorium (which ran parallel to Woodhaven Boulevard):View link

PKoch
PKoch on July 12, 2007 at 4:08 pm

Thanks, Jeffrey1955, for posting about the history of Rego Park.

stickball
stickball on July 12, 2007 at 3:57 pm

I enjoyed going to the drake. The theatre was not that big so you had a good view of the screen. The last movie I had seen there was – THE LAST STAR FIGHTER- . I miss the good days of sitting there and watching a movie.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on September 25, 2006 at 11:34 am

Dang, that should have said Community, not Cumminty. This isn’t letting me scroll to check anything.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on September 25, 2006 at 11:32 am

That’s an interesting question, but a cursory search indicates that the name Rego Park was already in use by the 1920s:

From the history of the Resurrection Assumption Church, http://www.rachurch.org/history.htm

In 1925, Rego Park was, simply, a nameless stretch of country where, approximately, ten farmers -most of them of the old German and Dutch stock — raised truck vegetables which they sold in Manhattan. Sixty-third Drive was a cow path — none of the present streets existed — and the farmhouses had neither gas nor electricity. The Rego Construction Company had purchased three farms, which comprised approximately forty-five acres. The name “Rego Park” was adopted to mean “Real Good” – a description of the quality of the homes they intended to build. This farmland was bounded [triangularly] by 63rd Drive, the Long Island Railroad, and a line of about 200 feet east of Eliot Avenue. Many of our “pioneer” parishioners were the proud purchasers of these homes when they were completed.

Meanwhile, Rego Park was springing up like an adolescent youth. The cornerstone of P.S. 139 was laid in 1928, and the school was opened in 1930. Next, the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour was opened in 1931. Noticeably, 63rd Drive also appeared to be shaping up. Families were rapidly moving into this lovely and convenient section of Queens and so, in keeping pace with this development, his Excellency, Bishop Thomas Molloy addressed the spiritual needs of his people. Therefore, in 1926, Rev. Francis Scullin was appointed to found a parish in what was, then, the outlying section of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Elmhurst. There were many problems facing Father Scullin [and his parishioners] foremost, of course, was finding the most suitable location to build a church that would serve all the people. A temporary church was constructed by the parishioners on 55th Avenue in Elmhurst. It was called the Church of the Ascension of Elmhurst. Over the years, improvements have been made to this very “homelike, and "peaceful” church. The probable date of the first Mass was February 28, 1926. … The first wedding took place on June 19, 1926. The groom was George Renhardt and his bride, Eleanor Coddington. Father Scullin “officiated” at their marriage.For the convenience of many parishioners, arrangements were made to schedule the Sunday Mass celebration in the Rego Park Community Club House, on 62nd Avenue.

Thus there was already a Rego Park Cumminty Club House in 1926. Also, note that the 63rd Drive-Rego Park station of the IND subway was so designated when it opened on Dec. 31, 1936.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 25, 2006 at 10:56 am

When did this area become known as Rego Park? I happened on an ad for the Drake Theatre from January, 1940, which describes it as being in West Forest Hills. In the same newspaper, an ad for the spectacular new Howard Johnson’s Restaurant on Queens Boulevard near Woodhaven Boulevard was also described as located in West Forest Hills. Perhaps the name “Rego Park” had not been adopted yet?

RobertR
RobertR on September 20, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Jan 1968, almost in release for 3 years

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 2, 2006 at 8:08 am

A photo and short article about the Drake Theatre can be found in the current issue of the Queens Chronicle as part of its ongoing “I Have Often Walked” series: www.queenschronicle.com

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on June 15, 2006 at 1:34 pm

My memories of the seedy Drake Theater are not favorable at all. In the late ‘60s, they ran a number of foreign softcore X films, mostly in B&W. I watched a few out of curiosity, but they were pretty bad, especially when the moviemakers tried to throw in some redeeming social value. There was even one (“491” or something like that) with a Biblical connection! I’d seen other non-erotic films there, but upon leaving the Drake, I always felt that I needed to shower, and real fast!

RobertR
RobertR on June 5, 2006 at 10:00 am

The Drake used to play hardcore XXX at one time. When it was owned by Murray Schoen who at the time also operated the Deluxe in Woodside, he would play XXX one week and 2nd run double bills the next.

Bway
Bway on June 5, 2006 at 9:35 am

I didn’t realize they showed stuff like that at the Drake!

RobertR
RobertR on May 27, 2006 at 12:38 pm

Here is a pair of soft X’s from 1972. The company that released them Marvin was a releasing company that put out hundreds of horror, action and soft porn flicks in the 70’s and 80’s. They distributed for dozens of independent companies. At the end of the Rivoli’s life (then the UA Twin) when UA was sabotaging it, the booker for UA said to me “we should have renamed it the Marvin 1 & 2 because that’s all the f%$* we book in there”.
View link

RobertR
RobertR on May 27, 2006 at 12:37 pm

Here is a pair of soft X’s from 1972. The company that released them Marvin was a releasing company that put out hundreds of horror, action and soft porn flicks in the 70’s and 80’s. They distributed for dozens of independent companies. At the end of the Rivoli’s life (then the UA Twin) when UA was sabotaging it, the booker for UA said to me “we should have renamed it the Marvin 1 & 2 because that’s all the f%$* we book in there”.
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 19, 2006 at 7:01 am

There are two exterior views of the Drake in the new article about Rego Park at www.forgotten-ny.com. Elsewhere in the article, the Elmwood Theatre can be seen in the background of a photo of Fairyland amusement park. The Trylon Theatre is also prominently featured in the article.

nutrichris
nutrichris on March 14, 2006 at 2:47 pm

Warren – can I use your 1986 shot of the Drake for a Rego Park Forgotten NY page? Please write to me. Thanks – Christina ()

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 1, 2006 at 9:05 am

The Drake apparently first opened in December, 1935. A news item in the April 10, 1936 issue of New York State Exhibitor said that after four months in operation, the Drake was switching to a continuous run policy. Previously, it was two-a-day (one matinee and one evening show daily).

PKoch
PKoch on December 2, 2005 at 10:46 am

Thanks, Warren and Jeffrey1955, for your answers. Warren, I thought that 589 Woodhaven Boulevard looked suspicious. Perhaps that was the address before the hyphenated Queens “Philadeplphia” street address system of numbered streets and avenues took effect. Thanks, Jeffrey1955, for your personal details. It’s a good idea to to include your year of birth in your handle on this board, so other moviegoers can gain some sense of what your movie-going experience might be.

The sixth comment on this page is my first comment on the Drake Theater, as “Peter.K”, on 14 April 2004. I somehow logged myself out, and had to log back in as “PKoch”.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on December 2, 2005 at 9:06 am

PKoch, yes I was born in 1955 — pretty clever of me, eh? But I was born in the Bronx. Moved to Elmhurst in 1963, went to PS 13, IS 61, and Newtown High School, and then pretty much disappeared in the mid-70s when I went off to college and hardly came back. My parents hung on there until about ‘79, then moved up to Peekskill.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 2, 2005 at 7:25 am

The address in the introduction is incorrect. The Drake was/is situated at 62-90 Woodhaven Boulevard.

PKoch
PKoch on December 2, 2005 at 6:43 am

Jeffrey1955, were you born in 1955 ? I was.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on December 1, 2005 at 9:31 pm

That ad illustrates a funny thing I recall from living in the area in the 60s and 70s: Lefrak City would never acknowledge it was actually in Corona. Hence, the ad lists both Drake and UA Lefrak City under Rego Park — of course, they’re (relatively) nowhere near each other!
I think the Drake was my favorite of all the theaters in the area. It just always seemed so cozy and comfortable. Some of the names mentioned above are very familiar, but I honestly can’t remember whether I saw The Ipcress File, or Wait Until Dark, or Butch Cassidy, or any of the other pictures of the mid-late 60s or early 70s at the Drake, or the Arion, or someplace else. It was basically wherever my father decided to drive. But I do have a distinctive memory of one of the theaters — probably the Arion — having peeling paint all over the ceiling, on the rare occasion when they turned on the lights.
And wow — “London Lenny’s” — there’s a name I had completely forgotten! Did I ever actually eat there, or just go past? I have no idea!