RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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Showing 26 - 50 of 1,243 comments

WilliamMcQuade on July 16, 2014 at 9:23 am

To James D

I have a life and breaking into derelict theaters does not do it for me. As a theater historian and someone who has been in hundreds of theaters across the country, I do not have to explain myself to anyone including you. Where were you when the Triboro came down or when we were fighting to save an intact RKO? You apparently got faith very late in the game.

JamesD on July 16, 2014 at 9:22 am

You don’t need to lie to us. It’s obvious you break into the theater on a regular basis. I mean, you run out of images on your Keith’s Facebook page then you post one of the exterior with the date, and the next day you have more interiors.

SWCphotography on July 16, 2014 at 8:37 am

Not “break in” – no signs posted and the front door was left open between developer #3 and developer #4. All help is welcome.

JamesD on July 16, 2014 at 8:05 am

William, SWC has done quite a bit. He constantly breaks into the theater to take photographs so he can post them on the Keith’s Facebook page he started. What have you done lately?

SWCphotography on July 16, 2014 at 7:56 am

That was back when the Board of Estimate could be influenced by the late QBP Donald Manes and before they were disbanded. Now we have the Board of Standard Approval who extended the time for completion of the RKO condo replacement for the third time by an unprecedented 4 years, but that was over 2 years ago and under a different Mayor. So the fourth developer now has 18 months left to show substantial progress, but alas he does not yet have FAA approval. A demolition by neglect complaint for the lobby, foyer and ticket booth was filed with the LPC forcing him to remove the construction offices abandoned by the second developer and repairing the fence but all work is now monitored by the LPC and no building permits exist. It seems the third developer falsified construction claims with the FAA before selling the property to the fourth developer. Now that the gargantuan Flushing Commons project has begun in an already saturated condo market the RKO developer is not only behind schedule and lacking permits but will be late to market. In 28 years a shovel has never hit the ground.

WilliamMcQuade on July 16, 2014 at 3:49 am

Sarcasm noted . Keep dreaming on about saving the Keith’s. I actually did try and save this and the Triboro as well. Got both to the Board Of Estimate before being done in by a corrupt politician. What can you guys say?

BobbyS on July 15, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Looks pretty good..Is this a plaster mold? Probably used it in many other places inside the Keith’s I suppose.

Jeffrey1955 on July 15, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Shhhhh! You’re imagining that!

SWCphotography on July 15, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Wait…I think I see something where there is not supposed to be anything

WilliamMcQuade on July 15, 2014 at 4:56 am

To Robboehm

I never heard the term you are referring to. It means nothing as I still stand by my statements. Years ago, I was NYC Director of the Theater Historical Society . I have been in old theaters from one coast to another and seen them in all states of repair and disrepair so I do know what I am talking about. Simply not knowing what a term means is not the criteria here. It may be to you but not me.

Anyone who believes that it can be rebuilt is playing fast and loose with reality. To believe this theater will ever function again is kidding themselves.

gd14lawn on July 14, 2014 at 9:55 pm

As long as the steel structure is intact it can be rebuilt.

robboehm on July 14, 2014 at 6:54 pm

William McQuade does 340 MP mean anything to you?

WilliamMcQuade on July 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

I have been in many theaters all across the country and take my word for it, the Keith’s is toast.

JamesD on July 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm


There are a number of them, but off the top of my head let’s – the Paramount Theatre in Boston, MA. It was restored by Emerson College in the mid/late 00s, and the school uses it as a theater.

The thing about the Keith’s is that a lot of the work has already been done. The seats have been removed, the stage has been stripped, and the asbestos has been removed. Of course it will need a new ceiling and roof, but it’s still partially done.

Scott on July 14, 2014 at 11:18 am

JamesD, you stated that theaters in much worse shape than the Keith’s have been restored. I’m not trying to start an argument, but I’m curious which theaters you have in mind?

WilliamMcQuade on July 14, 2014 at 10:22 am

It cuts both ways. Calling someone racist because you do not agree with Obama shows how over the top the subject is. Racism is like the third rail. You cannot say anything without someone being offended . Free speech in the US is dead. The no English film bit was racist but it matters not as the theater will never again show movies or have stage shows and that is the real tragedy

robboehm on July 14, 2014 at 6:47 am

Flushing Meadow Park has acres of parking and subway service. Really more accessible than Astoria or Flushing proper. As far as Bobby’s racism comment, I think the US is becoming more racist every day.

BobbyS on July 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm

To me, not being able to show english speaking films is pure racism. Somehow being white is racism, being anything else is progressive. Yes Thomas Lamb was a white male like everyone else that founded this country. No apology needed !!

JamesD on July 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I agree with that there is no urgent need, and the community is ambivalent, but not with the first part of your statement. Theaters in much worse shape than the Keiths have been restored and reopened across the country. It definitely could happen, but it will not.

WilliamMcQuade on July 13, 2014 at 1:10 pm

The theater really belonged to the people of Queens like the Loews Triboro in Astoria did. The bottom line is that the makeup of the Flushing population here matters not. The theater will never reopen as a theater as there is to much damage to it & there is no urgent need for a large theater there and the community is ambivilant.

There would have been interest when it originally closed years after the Triboro could have served the purpose as a Queens Performing Arts Center. Having one in Flushing as opposed to Flushing Meadows park would have been ideal but that ship sailed a long time ago.

JamesD on July 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm

No racism intended William. Don’t read into things that aren’t there. All I am trying to say is that the small group of people who are nostalgic about the Keith’s and would like it restored should ask the current residents of Flushing what they would like to see happen to the building. After all, they are the ones who would benefit from it the most.

robboehm on July 13, 2014 at 9:53 am

Like RKO had a presence in Queens and Long Island to protect. There was the Alden in Jamaica and the Albee in Brooklyn. Without checking I’m sure the Keith’s closed before RKO opened the four sets of twins, Commack, Babylon, Rockville Centre and Lawrence.

Jeffrey1955 on July 13, 2014 at 9:46 am

At this point, all these calls to go ahead and tear it down and arguments over who is to blame are meaningless. They got approvals years ago, yet nothing has happened. Obviously the leeches who have controlled this process from the beginning have not yet sucked all the money out of it that they can. More shell corporations trading ownership back and forth, more agents collecting transaction fees, more design firms collecting commissions, more permits and bribes, more politicians having their palms greased one way or another… it will simply continue until there is no more to be squeezed out, and then something will happen. Tommy Huang dumped oil in the basement, and it has been a black hole ever since.

gd14lawn on July 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

The no English language movie clause was probably at the insistence of RKO. When theatres are sold it is not unusual for the seller to insert these clauses to assure that the property does not become competition for their other nearby properties.

WilliamMcQuade on July 13, 2014 at 6:36 am

A bit of racism re the “white people” remark. “Their” newspaper says it all. I come to Flushing and I feel like a foreigner . Did you know that when the building was first sold by RKO To Huang, it contained a clause that no English language movies could be shown there for 25 years? Not to inclusive if you ask me. Imagine if it had been reversed and it said no oriental films the uproar there would have been. Huang made sure the theater would never operate again as a theater and he succeeded with his destruction of the interior including the landmarked parts.

The bottom line is the theater is to far gone to use as a theater and the community could care less about it. It was after all designed by a white guy Thomas Lamb. All he did was that he was famous theater architect who designed hundreds of theaters the world over. He did very few atmospheric theaters and Queens had 2. The than democratic Boro President Donald Manes made sure we had none.

This is the real shame in this whole mess. The theater can either sit there rotting away or it can be put out of its misery and torn down as it helps no one in its current state.