Alpine Theatre

6817 Fifth Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11220

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techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

DJM78-While I was still working at the Alpine (until I retired in 1996) I stopped doing any installations and service in 1988. I did all the service installations for Golden Theatre Management from 1972 until 1988. In 1989 Cineplex Odeon took over the operation of the Alpine.

I’m the “engineer” that the security cop who worked for Golden referred to. The engineer that worked for Loews told them they couldn’t make more than a Quad out of the Alpine and even that design was severely flawed as far as I was concerned. That was the main reason the theatre was sold to Golden.

Apparently, the “original” Alpine design called for a small balcony. At some point they must have decided to remove the balcony from the design, however, they kept the unusually high rear section of the theatre where the projection booth was located. The design that Loews' engineer’s came up with called for elevating a new projection booth ON TOP OF the old booth, while continuing to use the old booth and projecting OVER THE CEILING of the two rear theatres that would be created. All they were going to do was run a new wall half way down the middle of the existing twin’s width. It was at that time that I was asked “can anything better be done?” After studying the original blueprints for a couple of weeks, I worked out a design for 10 theatres of more or less equal size with a unique stepped elevation running from the original stage to the rear of the theatre. In the end, the design wound up being only 7 theatres so they could have the 2 larger theatres on one side, instead of my original 5 and 5 design. The new design required a double “T” shaped booth instead of a straight in-line stepped booth.

As for the Fortway, although my memory is gone, I’m pretty certain that the last two side theatres were done before 1982, probably 1979 or 1980. I would guess the security cop you spoke to was either John, a BIG TALL guy, or Dave, a guy with gray or white hair and thick glasses.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

techman707, I also remember being told a story about the multiplexing of the Alpine. We had a retired NYPD cop who worked at the Fortway. He ran the security detail for a few of the Cineplex Odeon theaters in Bklyn. He told me that Loews brought in their engineer to multiplex the Alpine beyond a twin. The engineer told Loews that it could not be done for some reason or another. Loews then sold the Alpine to the Golden Theatre chain. Golden’s engineer had no problem
multiplexing the Alpine beyond a twin. I was then told that Loews never again employed that engineer. Im not sure if this is true or false

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

techman707, I was an usher at the Fortway from 1994 to 1997. I really miss the place. When I was there the two projectionist were Alan and Mike. Maybe you knew one of them? From what I remember Alan was there in the 80’s. If it’s not too much trouble I would love to know what the Fortway looked like before it was multiplexed. I know when it tripled there was only one screen on the ground floor. I believe it was 1982 when theatre #’s 4 and 5 were added on the ground floor. Also I remember it being part of the Golden Theatre chain before Cineplex Odeon took it over,is that correct?

techman707
techman707 on January 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm

DJM78, What was your job at the Fortway? I probably know you. I installed the projection equipment at the Fortway. The first time when it was tripled and then when the two side theatres were added downstairs to make it a five-plex.

P.S. The Fortway was “pretty close” to a palace when it originally opened. I also did the Alpine sevenplex installation and from then until I retired I remained there. BEFORE they butchering the Alpine Theatre when Loews twined it, the lobby had some nice ornamental plaster under the “dropped ceiling”. Although it had no balcony, it was a decent size “neighborhood” Loews theatre.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I worked for a few years at the Fortway. The Alpine was our sister theatre in the Cineplex Odeon chain. The fortway was no palace but I always thought the Alpine was a dump. Still is even with the added screen in the back of the building.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Ed, I totally agree with you, having watched all the theatres you mention were torn down WITHOUT a peep out of the NYC Landmark & Preservation Commission.

As for the Kings, I’ve heard that for the last 20 years. Since I won’t be around in 2014, I won’t be in a position to say I told you so, but I hope I’m wrong.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Techman, you might be very pleased to learn that there are very legitimate plans that have been announced by the Brooklyn Borough President – at long last – to restore the Loew’s Kings to its former glory and put it to good use as a performing arts venue. The project is set to begin in earnest sometime next year and will hopefully be completed by 2014. That would mean that all five of the original so-called “Wonder Theaters” that Loew’s opened in the Metropolitan area between 1929 – 1930 will be preserved and open to the public – even if the Valencia remains open solely for church services. I think that is pretty remarkable for a town where the legitimate playhouses of Broadway hog up the official landmark spotlight, while our grand old cinematic palaces fall by the wayside. I mean, with the redevelopment of Times Square and the theater district, not ONE of the big-time Broadway premiere movie houses remains standing.

Let me correct myself… the old Warner Brothers' Hollywood Theater remains in all its glory as (surprise surprise) a church – having also spent some time as a legitimate Broadway theater. And the small, but elegant Embassy Theater, which was a newsreel showcase for much of its life, also survives as the home to the Times Square Visitor’s Center. But the Strand, the Warner, Loew’s State, Criterion, DeMille and Rivoli have all met with the wrecking ball after having survived well into the ‘80’s … and beyond in some cases. And before that, the Astor, Victoria, Capitol and Roxy all met with their demises as well. Pretty sad that such a rich history in cinematic presentation has just been wiped so thoroughly clean.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Ed, I’m aware of Loews 175th St. being turned over to a church because I was asked if I was interested in buying the projection equipment years ago. I forgot about it, I know I’m getting senile. It works like this, either I remember EVERYTHING, including the most minute details, or NOTHING.-LOL I was talking with someone a short while back and I was explaining how to fix a projector the person was working on and all of a sudden I couldn’t think of the word “sprocket”. It could be any word and it just happens. Because I have COPD/Emphysema and use oxygen and my doctor thinks it’s due to a lack of oxygen, which has gotten worse in the last year. Loews 175th St was also what I call, a SUPER theatre. A friend of mine who is a member of AMICA (a group of crazies that collect & rebuild organs) told me about ten years ago that the organ at the 175th St still had its organ. Unless the church is still using it, one of the crazies has probably pulled it out (and set it up in their basement, running the pipes up through the roof-LOL).

The Kings has been destroyed. It was “given” to a group called “Flatbush Development Corp” by the City for $1.00 a year. Another friend of mine was involved with them about 15 years ago and helped clean and spruce it up. They held a “gala event” and NEVER did another thing. My friend said that the roof started to leak, ruining much of the beautiful wood and a lot of the ornamental plaster. A short while after, thieves broke in and striped out every piece of copper and anything else they could steal (it DID have a pair of Simplex XL’s and a dubber that still worked when I checked it out before the “gala”. I don’t know if you were ever through the theatre, but, they had a FULL BASKETBALL COURT & GYM as well as a screening room (that was larger than some multiplex theatres) located in the basement.

As for the Jersey Theatre, I think I was there once, but I’m not very familiar with too many theatres in Jersey. Years ago I did some work at the Lakewood, obviously in Lakewood NJ, but as I recall, it wasn’t anything to write home about. I know that the ST. GEORGE THEATRE in Staten Island is still there and in one piece. While not a Loews theatre, I recall it being a very large good looking theatre, something like the Fabian’s Fox in Brooklyn.

While I could think of other theatres that still exist and haven’t been torn down….yet, my real point is that in a city that had hundreds of theatres, when it comes to a premiere or running a 70mm film, the best NYC can come up with is a dump like the Ziegfeld, which I was involved with the original installation of the Zeiss Ikon 35/70 projectors. Because they had delicate turrets, every time someone slammed the turret closed, the pin that kept the turret perpendicular with the film plane changed, causing the picture to shift on the wall and when the operator tried to move the projector to straighten it out, they couldn’t focus evenly across the screen. It was really a bad design, but if they took more care it wouldn’t have happened. I tried locking the turret closed, but they finally decided to change the projectors. They cost Walter Reade a lot of money for the time. They would have been MUCH better off with Cinemechanica projectors, like the DeMille had.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

There’s also the Loew’s Paradise up in the Bronx, techman. It survived years of neglect after closing as a sub-divided quad cinema and has been restored to much of its grandeur as a live venue. And then we have the former Loew’s 175th – also turned over to a church back in the late 1960’s – which survives largely intact and well taken care of as the United Palace, a church and live venue. Finally, if one travels across the Hudson, the Loew’s Jersey has been lovingly restored by volunteers and is seasonally operated for a number of years now as a revival movie house. Every now and again they even air out the old Wurlitzer for special events. Both the Jersey and the Paradise were opened in 1929, while the 175th was opened in 1930. And let us not forget that awaiting its restoration and return to glory is the last of the Loew’s wonder theaters, the 1929 Loew’s Kings, still standing on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. I, for one, find it quite remarkable that all 5 of these theaters remain in existence, with 4 of the 5 currently open to the public!

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Thanks techman, I have seen the Loews Valencia page there are many comments and photos on that page, it would take a long time to read all the comments there.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thanks, I’ll check it out. Loews seemed to have two basic theatre types. The pre 1928 theatres and the post 1928 theatres. While ALL their theatres were beautiful, the theatres built between 1928 – 1935 were, in my opinion, spectacular. There is still one left in New York. It’s located in Jamaica, Queens, Loews Valencia. Loews gave it to a church for nothing, which wound up saving the theatre from demolition. It had a Spanish style outdoor design and with the sparkling stars and moving clouds, it made you feel like you were really sitting in an outdoor theatre.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm

No the theatre was torn down after the fire,but the lobby was used for retail until the mid 80’s.Church Street Center was built on this site but was also torn down about 20 years later.I have posted some photos of this theatre on its page here on Cinema Treasures.Click on to it to read its history.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Yep, sounds like the Vendome was a “real” one. Too bad it burned down. Does the shell still exist or was it totally demolished after the fire?

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

Techman The Loews Vendome was bought by Loews in 1920 and ran it till it burned in August 1967. It was located on Church Street facing up Capitol Blvd,looking directly up to the Tennessee Capitol Building. I quess this would be a “Real” Loews although they did not build it.After the fire at the Vendome Loews leased the Crescent down the street Calling it the Loews Crescent. They also leased in 1967 the Melrose Theatre called the Loews Melrose and ran it till late 1982, the building and shopping center were owned by E.B. Raskin Co.They also leased the Madsion Square Theatre calling it the Loews Madison,it was the newest theatre we had then being built in 1969.I worked in these last 3 theatres,all are listed on C.T.Both Loews in Memphis we real Loews as far as I know.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 5:43 am

WTVJ is channel 6 right now. WFOR, which is CBS is channel 4 now. Like I said, about 1991 they swapped channels. I live in Coral Springs.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 28, 2011 at 4:57 am

WTVJ, Channel FOUR was the CBS affiliate when I lived there. Channel six was independent.

techman707
techman707 on March 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm

tsloews- I’ve been to Nashville, my sister inlaw is the District Attorney in McMinville (I think it’s spelled that way), however I didn’t realize Nashville had 4 Loews theatres. Were they all “real” Loews theatres or were some of them just new boxes?

techman707
techman707 on March 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm

No, WTVJ is the NBC affiliate in Miami. Bernard Myerson had an interest in WFOR, the CBS affiliate. It’s confusing since originally NBC was on channel 4 and CBS was on channel 6. About 20 years ago they swapped frequencies for technical reasons and NBC-WTVJ is now on 6 and CBS-WFOR is on channel 4. However, I’m sure it’s Bernard Myerson from Loews.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

techman, are you confusing Bernard Meyerson with Fox executive Sidney Meyer who co-founded Wometco and WTVJ Miami?

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Yes techman I did I just posted that on another page we have been chatting on. No I do not know the ansewer about the “Bernies” I work for Loews from 1973 starting as a doorman and worked my way up leaving as a Manager in late 1981.Wish I was still in the business sometimes.This was in Nashville, Tennessee ,were I still live. There were 4 Loews in Nashville over the years. First of all the Loews Vendome, Loews Crescent, Loews Melrose, and Loews Madison, all are on Cinema Treasures if you would like to check them out. The Loews Melrose is listed under Melrose Theatre,Nashville,and the Loews Madison is listed as Madsion Square Theatre Nashville, the other two are listed as Loews Theatres under those names I listed. Also there were two theatres in Memphis,Tenn,the Loews Palace and Loews State listed under those names. Elvis worked and was fired from the Loews State there.

techman707
techman707 on March 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm

tisloews, did you work for Loews? If so, would you know if the “Bernies”, Bernard Myerson and/or Bernard Diamond (Loews Vice-presidents)are still alive? Years ago I understand Bernard Myerson had a financial interest in the CBS television affiliate in Miami Florida.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Thanks techman.

techman707
techman707 on March 26, 2011 at 7:32 am

“The 1943 Film Daily Yearbook lists it with 2163 seats. The multiplex probably used lobby space as well. The proscenium remains as storage area behind the last two screens.
posted by AlAlvarez on Dec 12, 2009 at 4:54pm”

Al, the multiplex did not use ANY original lobby space at all. Having been involved in the design and installation of the multiplex, I can tell you that the reason lobby space couldn’t be used was because the back of the original theatre is WIDER than the lobby section of the building. There are exit doors that go to the theatre alley on the left of the building, which extend to the left beyond the lobby portion of the building. The exit doors were the BACK of the original theatre.

Other then poking holes for the hanging ceiling in the lobby, the original ornamental plaster is still above the lobby. Everything else had been pretty much gutted.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on February 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm

A recent exterior photo of the Alpine Theatre can be found about midway through this “Five Alive” article about Bay Ridge: View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on January 7, 2011 at 8:55 am

Nice 1958 photo of the Loews Alpine posted by Warren.