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One the Steinway Street side (the front) there is a row of stores with two stories of apartments above. One the back side (38th street) is a row of two family homes. Today the tought of tearing down the Loews Triboro for something so mundane and ordinary boggles the mind.
Thanks for the feedback. I was also wondering if they were using stock footage for that scene. Apparently the camera angle was from 45th Street (between Broadway & 6th Avenue)looking west. The Automat is what threw me off, the footage may have been from at least 10 years earlier.
I was just watching an episode of the TV show Taxi, and they shown an exterior night scene of Manhattan in the winter (snow on ground) with Loews State in vertical white neon on the left, with the letters scrolling down. This episode was from 1981.
Is this the same Loews State? There is a sign on the left side of a Majestic Dancing, and across the street is a Florsheim shoe store, and behind that in red letter is Automat, and further behind that is at least 2 movie marquees that I can’t make out. Would this be 45th Street? and if so I don’t recall there being an Automat still in business in the 1980s. The only that I recall stillbeing in business was at 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue.
Anybody know if this is the Loews State theater, or perhaps there was another Loews State?
I was at AMC Empire last week and there was no sound. I went out to alert any staff member to tel the projectionist or manager, and of course there was nobody around, even the concession person was missing, I had to go down to the lower level to find a human being to complain to. The remarks above by Movieguy718 may be an exaggeration, but alot of unpleasant things do happen when there aren’t any employees visible. AMC Empire was much better staffed when it first opened, I’m afraid there’s alot of apathy and staffing issues today. I hope management gets their act together.
I had been here a couple of times in the late 1990s to see foreign or independent films. Nice cozy set up and good snack counter, along the lines of the Film Forum. Since I’m rarely down by Canal Street, not sure what it’s doing right now outside of the Tribeca Film festival.
I had seen a few films here over the years, always remember it as the D.W.Griffith. I’m greatful that it has found a new life as the ImaginAsian.
I had only been here once, in the early 1990s to see a foreign film, I believe it was Europa Europa. It was perhaps a bit run down, andmy lasting impression was that it because it was on First Avenue, it was so out of the way for me.
Cool, the Ink Spots. I keep forgetting that back in the days it wasn’t unusual to have a live musical act performing between the showings of films. It was before my time, but it was a good idea. The only live performances I’ve even seen before a film was the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
I passed by the theater site a couple of days ago, they had also destroyed the corner building which was a bank, they demolished the entire section up to the corner. It’s all boarded up now. Even though I knew about it, it was still very disillusioning to actually see it in person. I’m sure another monsterousity high rise is going up in it’s place.
I appreciate what AMC did to preserve the facade and the front of the old Empire theater. I wish more theaters facing demolition would be fortunate enough to survive with such a similar compromise.
It must have been a pricey and exhaustive task for the management of the Astoria Theater to spill enough soda so that all 2,259 seats will have sticky floors under them. To me that was the most lasting impression of the Astoria, eternally sticky floors. LOL
It was the same theater that was once the Adonis at 50th Street & 8th Avenue. I recall having passed by many times and wondering what the theater looked like inside, since it appeared to be so big. I think it was closed for a while before they reopened it and attempted to play first release non-porn films. I’m not sure if they remodeled the place inside when I saw Silent Tongue, since I had nothing to compare it to.
I located 2 release dates for Silent Tongue. The Entertainment Weekly reviewed it in their December 17, 1993 issue. So it may have been in very limited release in December 1993 for Oscar contention purposes. It was then released more widely on February 25,1994, as I have the NY Times review of the film from that date, when it played at 2 theaters Loews Tower East (3rd Ave & 71st) & Lowes Village Theater VII (3rd Ave & 11th St). So it’s likely I saw it at the Tivoli/Adonis in December 1993, instead of in 1994.
Silent Tongue a porno flick? With River Phoenix? LOL
I recall the film was just released, but this was the only place in the NYC the film was being shown. But the theater was not Adonis, it had a different name, but I can’t recall what it was called. I believe the theater may have closed for good after that.
I finally got to see what the inside looked like, it reminded me a bit of what the RKO Keith in Flushing was like. This was a theater that could still have been restored to it’s previous glory.
Great photo Warren. I recall seeing the film Silent Tongue there starring River Phoenix, Richard Harris & Alan Bates (in 1994?), which was released posthumously after River’s death in 1993. I can’t recall what the theater’s name was then, but it was obvious the theater had alot of history to it, and was in need of repair.
Here’s a nice article from 1999 about Theater 80 St. Mark’s, with photos of the theater, and several of the cement blocks.
Here’s a nice article from March 13,2002 from Columbia News Service regarding the imprinted square blocks that are on the sidewalk of Theater 80 St. Mark’s, and other NYC locations.
It’s not Hollywood on the Hudson
By James Dean
On a late summer night in the East Village, limousines pulled up to the curb outside Theatre 80 on St. Mark’s Place. Photographers snapped away as stars of stage and screen, including the cast of the Ziegfeld Follies, arrived while klieg lights swept the sky.
Some of the famous guests, such as Gloria Swanson and Lillian Roth, pressed their palms or feet into square trays of wet cement, then signed their names and the date, Aug. 26, 1971.
It was hardly in the league of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where nearly 200 stars, from John Wayne to Marilyn Monroe, have made impressions in the sidewalk. But the gimmick dreamed up by Florence and Howard Otway to celebrate the conversion of their theater into a revival film house produced one of New York’s few sidewalk tributes to entertainers. And perhaps its most enduring such tribute, despite imperfect cement, intervention by the city and Broadway’s occasional plans for a “walk of fame” to rival Hollywood Boulevard’s.
“We were imitating Hollywood,” Florence Otway said. “It was a spontaneous, tongue-in-cheek, fun thing to do.” Several of the Otways' friends, including the actresses Joan Crawford, Joan Blondell, Myrna Loy, Kitty Carlisle and later the comedian Dom DeLuise, added handprints and footprints to the pavement.
Not all the stars' squares survived opening night. A porter who drank too much fell and smeared several squares before the cement had dried. In later years, Otway said, street workers damaged others.
But the biggest threat came in 1998, about five years after Howard Otway’s death, when the city Department of Transportation decided that the sidewalk impressions posed a potential hazard to pedestrians and threatened to pave over them.
“It was nonsense,” Otway said. “No one ever tripped over them.”
She said that Paramount Studios, the owner of Grauman’s along with Warner Bros., offered to pay for shipping the squares to Hollywood and for repaving her sidewalk, but that she declined. The public outcry over the city’s threats made plain how much New Yorkers loved the sidewalk signatures, and Otway eventually won a reprieve when she paid to realign them.
A few other pockets of pavement stars have cropped up over the years. In 1985, the Second Avenue Deli began a series of 30 stars honoring Yiddish theater performers. In 1999, just as Theatre 80’s plot was preserved, the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street built a sidewalk studded with stars outlined in bronze, more closely approximating Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
“It was Lortel’s last project while she was alive,” said George Forbes, vice president of finance and administration at Lortel Theatre Foundation. “She felt a need for a monument to playwrights that was lasting.”
Just over half of the Lortel’s 72 stars are filled, including the names of Eugene O'Neil, David Mamet and Wendy Wasserstein. While the stars' creation was a triumph for Lortel, who died a few months after the stars were installed, Forbes said the project was costly and difficult.
“We had to jump through a lot of hoops,” he said about getting the required permits and assuring the transportation department that the stars wouldn’t cause pedestrians to slip. A Department of Transportation spokesman confirmed that obtaining a Distincive Sidewalk Special Treatment Permit can be a “lengthy process.”
Based on Lortel’s experience, Forbes said he was not surprised that Broadway had yet to realize its own walk of stars, though several have been proposed.
“This is certainly much easier for one private landlord to do,” he said, compared with the dozens that would be involved in any Times Square project.
“Everyone thought it was a great idea until you delved into the practicalities and the cost of it,” said Richard Basini, president of the Broadway Association, which comprises 100 local businesses.
With all the pedestrian traffic around Broadway, the sidewalk is barely visible anyway, not to mention the hazards caused if poeple stopped to look down. Besides, with Times Square’s dazzling neon lights overhead, almost everybody looks up.
“It’s a dead issue now,” Basini said.
As recently as October 2000, the Marriott Marquis had plans to turn its alley linking 45th and 46th Streets into a Walk of Stars honoring New York stage actors. A large photographic mural now lines the alley, but a spokeswoman said there were no concrete plans for further development.
Many Broadway theaters are named after actors, playwrights or composers (the O'Neil, the Gershwin and the Barrymore), but only a small independent theater, the Helen Hayes, has merged its name with sidewalk symbolism. Near the curb outside the theater on 44th Street lies a small bronze plaque. Hayes' neat signature runs above the outline of two shoes that are barely the length of a hot dog.
Susan Myerberg, the theater’s general manager, said the bronze was created about 10 years ago after the original blue cement impression began collecting dirt and the occasional piece of chewing gum. Hayes, who was no longer in good health, simply sent a pair of shoes to the engraver.
“It was done as a respectful thank you to a first lady of the theater,” Myerberg said. “We felt very privileged to be associated with her. And those tiny little shoes
Wow, RKO Proctor’s 58th is indeed a lost treasure. I never had the opportunity to see it in time, I only recall the highrise in it’s place now. Thanks for sharing the photos Warren.
I had passed by a couple of weeks ago and was shocked to see this grand old theater missing. I double checked becuase I thought I was on the wronng street or avenue, and then realized The Variety is gone. I was never inside, but it was always a bit of a step back in time just walking past. NYU is taking over the whole downtown area, and getting local officials to change zoning laws to build more large student housing. I miss the grand old Palladium on 14th Street, saw lots of great concerts there. NYU is also respomsible for kicking out The Bottom Line Cabaret Theater on 4th Street after 30 years. Upstairs are also student housing and offices for NYU. The Bottom Line only took up the first floor of the building, there was alot of support from the comunity to keep them there, even a radio network was willing to broadcast shows from there in return for rent support, but they kicked them out anyway. Today in it’s place is the Yalincak Family Foundation Lecture Hall. Out with the old, in with the new I guess.
A charming and cozy theater with alot of character. I’ve seen several retro double features in the 1980s, it was one of a kind in NYC. It was a bit cramped, especially if the show was filled, and a few of the seats had a bad angle. But you could tell it was run by people who loved the place. And you couldn’t beat the homey snack bar. The celebrity cement blocks up front are still there. I’m glad it’s still functioning as a Theater Company.
This was one of the better theaters in the Manhattan. I saw lots of films here with family and friends in the last 1970s and early 1980s, always an enjoyable experience. I hated it after they divided it into a twin theater, it’s lost all of it’s charm. I rarely went there afterwards. Still, it’s sad to hear of it’s demise.
While it may have been too much to hope for a restoration to it’s former glory, I also don’t believe this to be a reasonable compromise either. They could have built several floors over the theater to use as office space. What a shame to allow another still redeemable show palace like RKO Keith slip through our fingers.
This article appeared in The New York Sun newspaper on 09/29/05:
September 29, 2005 Edition > Section: Real Estate >
Developer May Soon Revive Landmark Theater in Flushing
BY JULIA VITULLO-MARTIN – Special to the Sun
September 29, 2005
At a public hearing on Tuesday, the Board of Standards and Appeals signaled that the 20-year saga of the RKO-Keith Theater in Flushing, Queens, may soon end, leading to the building’s rebirth.
The board’s chairwoman, Meenakshi Srinivasan, indicated she would be receptive to granting the variance that would allow a major reconstruction of the site to go forward. Further negotiations will be necessary to decide the details of a tentatively reached compromise proposed by the development director of Boymelgreen Developers, Scott Milsom, who agreed to provide more parking in exchange for being allowed to build at their requested bulk.
Many community representatives seemed relieved. “People are in favor of this project,” the district manager of Community Board 7, Marilyn Bitterman, said. “The site was abandoned and neglected for years. We were thrilled when the developer purchased it and decided to develop it while keeping the integrity of the theater and enhancing the landmarked portion of the building.”
The president of Queens, Helen Marshall, regarded RKO-Keith as so important that she testified in person – the first time she has done so since leaving the chairmanship of the zoning committee of Community Board 3 and winning elected office. She urged the board to accept the “project proposal as approved by Community Board 7 and myself.”
Or as Council Member John Liu said, “We want this building resurrected from the dead, and we really don’t want to wait much longer.”
A lawyer for Boymelgreen, Howard Goldman, said the project would go forward if all goes well at a final hearing on November 2. The board may then approve the project by the end of the year.
It will indeed be a resurrection. After being nearly destroyed in 1986 by its owner, Thomas Huang, who demolished sections of the exterior and spilled hundreds of gallons of oil in the basement, the RKO-Keith Theater sat vacant, dragging down property values. Boymelgreen bought it in 2002, and proposed a 19-story, 375,000-square-foot mixed-use building, which is about three times what zoning allows. Community members were concerned about the size of the project and were not appeased even with a design by a renowned architectural firm, the V Studio of the Walker Group. In February 2004, Community Board 7 voted 35-0 not to approve it.
The architect tried again, scaling it down from a floor area ratio of 9.5 to a FAR of 7.5, eliminating the interior retail mall and most office space, making the project largely residential with only ground-level retail. The new design retained features important to the community, including a 12,500-square-foot senior center and four levels of parking. In February 2005, the community board voted 32-2 to approve it.
Nonetheless, the Board of Standards and Appeals, which had to authorize the variance, was intent on scaling the project back further, to a FAR of 6.5.The developer said this was unworkable.
The site offers tough design problems for many reasons, not least because the theater’s interior, which is landmarked, has been badly trashed. (Though designed by a famous architect, Thomas Lamb, the theater’s exterior was not landmarked at the request of then-borough president Donald Manes, who later committed suicide amid financial scandals.) Calling this part of the site “the egg,” a principal of the V Studio, Jay Valgora, testified that preserving it while trying to build on top of and around it presented him with the “most complex job of sequencing” he had ever faced as an architect. It also presented him with very high construction costs of $238 a square foot. “The costs of preserving the egg are constant,” he said. “We need a variance for greater bulk to offset these costs. If we’re forced to go down to 6.5, we’ll have to produce an inferior building, with punched windows and a far less articulated facade.” The audience stirred as he spoke. After waiting all these years, community members do not want an inferior building.
And while the apartments will be sold at prices between $470 and $623 a square foot ($337,000 to $1.2 million), Mr. Goldman testified that profits will be low – 3.3% at the 7.5 FAR requested by the developer, or 1.5% at the 6.5 FAR preferred by the Board of Standards and Appeals. Ms. Srinivasan, the chairwoman, challenged Mr. Goldman and Mr. Valgora, asking why they could not provide all the same amenities they propose at 7.5 for a smaller building at 6.5.
In the end, the extra parking demanded by the board – 32 spaces – became a deal maker. The site, which is near Flushing Bay, sits on a high water table, making construction deep into the ground very expensive. But Mr. Milsom proposed a solution: “We’ll figure out how to find more parking without going down to the water table,” he said.
Yet even if the board approves the FAR of 7.5 on November 2 as expected, construction is unlikely to begin for another eight months, while new designs are prepared. The building won’t open, says Mr. Milsom, for at least two and a half years.
If the neighborhood is indeed given back its RKO-Keith Theater in 2007, it will have much to celebrate – including the 80th anniversary of RKO-Keith’s first groundbreaking in 1927. It opened to joyous crowds in 1928.
Thnaks for the photos of the inside of the theater, it brings back alot of memories. What a glorious theater it was, and what a disgrace politics allowed to be razed for a bunch of rowhouses. I recall hearing during 1974 that there was going to be a large department store built in it’s place, so I was very suprised when houses went up in it’s place. What a waste. Go figure.
Ever since they converted the Astoria Theater into a multiplex during the late 1970s, it became just like any other multiplex theater. By the late 1980s it had already become run down and even seedy inside. Only if they were to return it to it’s original one-screen glory, would the theater have been worth saving. Just like most movie theaters, it became a victim of it’s time.
The listed address above is incorrect. The correct address of Steinway Theater was 31-08 Steinway Street. After the theater closed in the late 1950’s it became the location of Lerner’s Store, a women’s clothing chain. It was the largest store in the Astoria, it even had a side entrance/exit on 31st Avenue. When I was a kid in the 1960s my siblings and I used to play hide & seek in the store while my mom shopped. I recall once a woman told my mom that the store used to be a theater, it’s amazing the little things one remembers after so many years. Back then it was also the only chain store on Steinway Street, all the other stores were privately owned mom & pop small business stores. Lerner’s lasted there at least 30 years. It closed in the early 1990s it has been Dr.Jay’s sportswear store until present.