Central Theatre

19 Central Avenue,
Passaic, NJ 07055

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Showing 26 - 50 of 50 comments

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 11, 2006 at 5:45 am

It was from a newspaper, but I cut out the picture and didn’t keep the article. It was some years ago, but I seem to remember that the article was about the photographer who took this picture, and not the theater or the diner.

tonyn on February 11, 2006 at 1:59 am

Bill, do you happen to have the story that the picture was part of, it looks like a newspaper article.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 10, 2006 at 7:26 pm

View link

This is a picture of the diner I posted back in July 2005.

tonyn on February 10, 2006 at 4:07 pm

I could not open the pictures posted by Jeff S. Does anyone have pictures of the diner next to the Central?

JoeRusso on October 6, 2005 at 8:35 am

I am asking anyone who has photos or memories of this theatre to PLEASE contact me! My Grandmother was head bookkeeper at the Central from the 50’s until 1973.I spent doznes of weekends literally “living” there.As a young boy I spent weekends at a time watching films,going up in the balcony,hanging out in the business office and even dispensing tickets to customers from the box office.The manager,Rudy DeBlasio is still around and I met with him a few years ago after almost 30 years! I have many personal,sentimental memories of the Central and seek ANY PHOTOS,or leads on photos.This was an incredible theatre.One day in 1980,I passed by and it was a pile of rubble.I had no chance to visit it for the last time or take any pictures.The memories of the time I spent there haunts me to this day.Anyone with any information or photos of this theatre,I ask you to please contact me.THANK YOU!

BobFurmanek on September 12, 2005 at 5:42 am

Terrific photo Warren. The Central featured many of the great bands during the 1940’s, and was the last place Glenn Miller played before going to Europe.

I really appreciate these photos. Do you have any more?

BobFurmanek on September 6, 2005 at 4:43 am

Yes, the balcony was always closed in the later years. For that reason, the lounge area upstairs was in excellent condition when the theater closed. The audiences for the blaxploitation/kung-fu epics had trashed the once beautiful downstairs lounge, but the balcony area was in great shape. In fact, it still had some of the original art deco furniture and light fixtures.

umbaba on September 3, 2005 at 4:13 am


That is the auditorium of the Central in Passaic?? I didn’t know it had a balcony?? What year is that?? It seems interesting with all the Kung-Fu films of the 70’s that that is the same theater.

Do you have any shots of other Northjersey theaters?

JeffS on July 21, 2005 at 5:12 pm

I found that picture of Main Street Passaic. it doesn’t show any of the theaters, but it does give you an idea of what it looked like with the tracks down the center.

I’ve presented it as several shots, the first is the whole image, reduced so you can see everything. Then I took several sub-sections and presented them at full (or close to full) resolution so you can see the details.

This picture was probably taken sometime in the 1930’s, and is at the south end of main street, just north of the Prospect St Station. You can see the Bank Building (the skyscraper) in the photo. That building is still there today.


BobFurmanek on July 21, 2005 at 10:03 am

WOW, thanks Warren. I would sure love to get a good quality print of that image! By the time I was going there in the late sixties, the vertical sign was gone. But it was a huge marquee and could be seen for blocks.

JeffS on July 21, 2005 at 10:00 am

OK, now that picture puts things in perspective for me. The tracks would be at the rear of the building.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 21, 2005 at 9:48 am

Thanks, Warren. It felt good to see the Central’s marquee once again.

BobFurmanek on July 21, 2005 at 6:31 am

Oops, the train station was on Main Street just south of the Central. Sorry ‘bout that!

BobFurmanek on July 21, 2005 at 6:26 am

Jeff, the information on the ticket is a little mis-leading. The train station was a block or two north on Main Street, and the tracks continued towards Clifton along the west wall of the theatre.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 21, 2005 at 5:30 am

Rhett: if you click on the map link up above next to the Central’s address, and zoom all the way in, the Capitol was located on the next block north of the Central with its entrance on Monroe St. The Central’s entrance was on Central Ave. and you had to go around the corner to see what was playing at the Capitol.

umbaba on July 21, 2005 at 3:27 am

Wasn’t the Central right acroos the street from the Capitol?? That’s where they had all the concerts..I saw The Cowboys there in ‘72…These Passaic theaters along with the Paterson theaters all went downhill as the 70’s progressed with the Blaxploitation and Kung Fu movies…What does that say about it?? Was it the times? the movies? the people? the management not caring anymore??

JeffS on July 21, 2005 at 3:16 am

So in this picture which side of the building was the railroad on? Bob, the 1950 ticket stub you gave me says “Across the street from the Erie RR station”. I have a 1912 picture of the Passaic RR station, but that pre-dates this building (and many other buildings). I had a more recent photo of Main St Passaic showing the tracks down the middle, but I can’t seem to find it (I’m still looking). Maybe this shot will show the theater.

BobFurmanek on July 13, 2005 at 6:31 am

The Central was located on the same piece of land as the McDonalds. A portion of that south wall is still there today, although it’s only a few feet high. They had to demo that entire south wall by hand, as the diner was still open for business below it. The process took months!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 12, 2005 at 5:28 pm

Jeff: Here’s a picture of the Central, but it’s not that good a one. Unfortunately it doesn’t show the marquee, which was on the right side of the building on Central Ave.

View link

Main Ave. is on the left of the parking lot in this picture, so it ran parallel to the theater. The wall we see here with the billboard on it, facing south, is the back wall of the theater, or of the lobby actually. When you walked into the lobby from Central Ave., you turned right to enter the theater. The screen faced Monroe St. (and the Capitol Theater). I remember not liking the location of the front of the theater because when my family drove up Main Ave. on our way to the White Castle in Clifton, I could never see the Central’s marquee. Just like I can’t make out what’s up on the billboard in this picture. Whatever it is, it’s from 1967.

JeffS on July 10, 2005 at 6:10 am

I’m trying to visualize where the Central theater was, since I never actually saw it. Downtown Passaic as we know it today has a very different face from what it looked like 50 years ago. Many don’t know that the really wide section from the McDonalds at the north end, to where it narrows again at the south, was because the mainline of the Erie railroad ran up the middle of main street. Looking at the map provided by the link above (an excellent map by Google I must admit) it would appear that the central was situatued with the railroad tracks at it’s back. Can anyone confirm this?

teecee on May 13, 2005 at 12:11 pm

Pink Floyd performed here on 11/2 & 11/3/71. With this theater and the Capitol, Passaic must have been quite the concert scene in the 1970s.

ctcirc on March 23, 2005 at 6:23 pm

This building was erected by the Passaic businessman, Harry K. Hecht who also built and operated the Palace Theater. Harry Hecht was a prominent Passaic businessman and philanthropist. He was a founder of Beth Israel Hospital and Temple Emanuel in Pssaic (President of both) and during World War 2, sold so many war bonds that a plane was named for him. He was killed in an auto accident in May, 1951. Quite a beloved figure in Passaic’s history.

BobFurmanek on September 3, 2004 at 8:51 am

This Passaic showplace was a fabulous Art Deco palace, and it was a real tragedy to see it demolished. It was less than 40 years old when it came down, and the construction crew underestimated the buildings structural integrity. It took several months longer than anticipated. It was certainly the most modern of Passaic’s theaters, which included the Montauk, Capitol, Lincoln (later Fine Arts), and Palace. There was also an old opera house, but that was torn down in (I believe) the 1930’s.

While the auditorium, downstairs lounge and lobby were a bit run-down from the years of black exploitation and kung fu movies, the backstage areas and balcony were in great shape. They hadn’t used the balcony in years, and it still had some of the original paintings and furniture up there.

It was also the first theater in Passaic County to install CinemaScope and 4-track magnetic stereo (for “The Robe”) and made the most of this fact in their advertising.

The Central had a huge facade, including an immense vertical sign. When they were demolishing the building, we found all of the original blueprints in a basement storage room.

Would anybody like to rebuild it?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 18, 2004 at 12:24 pm

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see “Ice Station Zebra” in Cinerama, so when it came to the Central I sat in the very front row. It was definitely the next best thing. I also remember the Central as the place where I got to “go ape” – 5 Planet of the Apes movies in one day in 1973. A great place to see a movie. I loved their marquee, too – they used really big letters.

joemasher on March 31, 2004 at 6:59 am

The Central was torn down in the 70’s for the Golden Arches…..McDonald’s has been there since.