RKO 23rd Street Theatre

265 Eighth Avenue,
New York, NY 10011

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Showing 26 - 50 of 62 comments

Bway
Bway on January 5, 2009 at 7:24 am

A lot of the links to the historic images of this theater don’t work. Any current links available?

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on December 26, 2008 at 9:17 am

Heartbreaking photo of the fire in 1960. I was a young lad standing with my dad watching from this angle. The theater had already been shut down, tragic enough without this happening. Note the OPERA sign in the window.

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jflundy
jflundy on December 20, 2008 at 11:32 am

Jim Fisk was a Wall Street shark and took control of the Erie Railroad along with Jay Gould. The Erie Railroad general Offices were in the Grand Opera House building which was owned by Fisk in the 1870’s. In 1945, one outer door remained with the initials ER still marked on it on 28th Street, long after the Railroad had moved out.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm

As the Grand Opera House this was showing films at least as early as January 1923 when it ran TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY.

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on February 26, 2008 at 9:28 am

Excerpt from 1870 NY Illustrated article in two parts:

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Jerry

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on January 16, 2008 at 8:09 am

8 years shy of its 100th birthday. Sad day indeed. I remember, as a10 year old, standing on the south side of 23rd Street watching the fire and the firemen.

I vividly remember standees from AT WAR WITH THE ARMY and TONKA being thrown out on the street.

The theater had closed on June 15 to make way for the ILGWU Co-Op development. The site became a bank, a Chicken Delight and other “necessities”.

I still miss this place and I hope someday to find images of the long foyer, the staircase and the concession area. Jerry

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on January 1, 2008 at 6:10 am

1925 Closed For Repairs images

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Happy New Year. Jerry

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on April 8, 2007 at 1:00 am

An RKO promo in 1958, April 19 to May 31. Flyer with discount admissions to SAturday morning Kid Shows ($.20 instead of $.30). 7 consecutive weeks of a “surprise” film with the regular double feature. And a “star stamp collection”. Great times.

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42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on December 24, 2006 at 5:13 am

3D at the RKO….1953. Note the “short”…Nat King Cole in 3D!

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Happy Holidays, CTers.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 28, 2006 at 7:43 am

The 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide says of the Grand Opera House: “…we find on the northwest corner (of Eighth Ave and 23rd St) the Grand Opera House, erected by Samuel Pike, and afterward purchased by Jay Gould, and managed by the redoubtable Col. Jim Fisk. This theatre has been recently remodeled, and is now one of the city’s most popular playhouses for combinations. It is still owned by the Gould estate and is managed by Augustus Pitou”. The admission prices ranged from 25 cents to $1.50. There were 2,149 seats and 500 standing room places. The proscenium opening was 36 feet wide x 32 feet high, and the stage was 63 feet deep. The theatre was on the ground floor and there were 11 members of the house orchestra.

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on November 5, 2006 at 8:47 am

In the latest issue of FILMS OF THE GOLDEN AGE magazine, they published an edited version of an article I did on the old RKO 23rd Street.

On the home page, you can request a free sample. I do not know if you’ll receive this issue, but hey, it’s free.

Keeping the memory alive!

http://www.filmsofthegoldenage.com/

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on May 4, 2006 at 5:27 am

Found a great frontal shot from 1936 pre-RKO. jerry

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42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on April 21, 2006 at 10:21 am

Here is that ad I mentioned last year. Imagine doing this for 1 DAY!!!

Sorry about the duplicate post above; I received an error message on the first submit. jerry

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42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on April 21, 2006 at 10:18 am

An ad depicting better times in 1959. Two movies. 11 cartoons, free photo of Edd “Kookie” Byrnes. Throw in a hot dog heated under a light bulb, grape soda right from the machine (make sure the cup comes down straight), bon-bons and I’m there. jerry
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42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on April 21, 2006 at 10:15 am

An ad depicting better times in 1959. Two movies. 11 cartoons, free photo of Edd “Kookie” Byrnes. Throw in a hot dog heated under a light bulb, grape soda right from the machine (make sure the cup comes down straight), bon-bons and I’m there. jerry
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42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on March 29, 2006 at 8:40 am

Here is a sad shot of the vacant RKO site during construction of the ILGWU Co-Ops aka Monolith Monsters. Should be around late 1960 – early 1961. Another great neighborhood theater, The Terrace, was located west of the Cornish Arms hotel, but had closed in the late 1950s. Haven’t found anyone yet on CT who recalls that one. Jerry

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Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 26, 2005 at 7:53 am

Here’s another view of the RKO 23rd to compare to the one of the original opera house that I posted on 7/14/05. Much of the ornamentation on the exterior of the building was removed for the new RKO theatre:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/rk23.jpg

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 27, 2005 at 10:55 am

The New RKO 23rd Street first opened on Thursday, August 4, 1938, with “Having a Wonderful Time” & “Sky Giant.” Programs changed twice a week on Thursday and Tuesday (the latter a two-day booking of two “B” movies or revivals). Advertising described the 23rd Street as “on the site of the famous Grand Opera House,” and claimed that it was “Downtown’s only modern air-conditioned theatre. The last word in sound equipment.”

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on July 29, 2005 at 4:40 am

Here’s two great William Castle ads from films that I saw at the RKO. EMERGO had the packed theater screaming as a skeleton (on wire) came from a curtained booth at the top right corner of the screen, over the audience to the front of the balcony and back (as the skeleton was menacing on screen). Castle was a marketing genius. j

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42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on July 14, 2005 at 5:11 am

I have a copy of a the NYT article about the history (and closing) of the theater. June 1, 1960 for anyone interested. Has a shot of the marquee at that time.

I was standing on the 23rd Street side while it burned, after the closing, but didn’t have the heart to copy the article.

I also copied ads of many of the films that I saw there, from the NYT microfilm.

So, since I’m not near Lincoln Center any longer, this will have to do. Thanks again. (Don’t forget the Terrace on 23rd; would love to see images of that one – lol), jk

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 14, 2005 at 4:51 am

Sorry, Jerry, but I don’t have any more images of the RKO 23rd at the moment. If you know the theatre’s opening date, you might check the trade papers of that time. They probably had photos, especially in the monthly sections devoted to theatres. I would start with Motion Picture Herald, which is on microfilm at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 14, 2005 at 4:39 am

Here’s the corner building that replaced the RKO 23rd. Does it still exist? I haven’t been in that area for several years now:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/125-2558_IMG.jpg

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on July 14, 2005 at 4:37 am

Warren, you’d make a great private investigator. I lived a tad to the right at 24th & 8th; somewhat after this photo.

How about some interior shots of the long entrance way and the beautiful concession area. You can do it!

Thanks. jerry

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 14, 2005 at 4:27 am

Here’s a 1933 image of the building, before the Grand Opera House was converted into the RKO 23rd Street Theatre. Despite what it says on the two vertical signs, I doubt if vaudeville was still being presented there. The marquee lists only a revival of Wallace Beery in “Chinatown Nights,” which was first released in 1929, but there might have been a second feature as well. It was the height of the Depression:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/125-2555_IMG.jpg