Showing 26 - 50 of 58 comments found
What in God’s name have they done to the proscenium?! It just doesn’t look right. I sincerely hope this is temporary?…
Going to the Music Hall tomorrow. I’m excited! Question: Does anyone know why the 50th Street underground connection between the Music Hall and the GE Building is still closed? Seems like it would relieve the surface crowd around the theater and it would be good business for the Rockefeller Center Concourse shops to have this link open? Why is it still closed? Also, why do the patrons enter through the 51st Street entrance, when the theater is meant to be entered from 6th Avenue and 50th Street? It is so much more dramatic to enter through 50th Street. Roxy had it right 79 years ago. Any thoughts?…
Quite the experience in the lobby of the New York Experience. I also remember the popcorn popper and this is the place where I first heard Jolson’s “Sonny Boy” — in the lobby. In the show, it was the place where I was introduced to the Roxy Theatre—and the rest is history. The NYE had a great sound system, and they really played up the grand sound of the Mighty Wurlitzer. Loved it. I was 13.
Actually, judging by the movie titles, this was taken in 1947.
I heard Bernie Anderson play for “One Week” on Saturday, and he was outstanding. Very highly recommend hearing Bernie and seeing “Sunrise.” You’ll be amazed by what the silent film experience be.
“Barry Lyndon” and “Days of Heaven” can only truly be appreciated on a very large screen with carbon arc lighting. This is the perfect venue for these films. You really won’t find better.
OK, makes sense. Thanks for the explanation and vintage photos. In viewing a contemporary photo, the old oval rug exactly matches the outline of the new rug. Come to think of it, a wall-to-wall marble floor doesn’t make much sense in a movie palace, given the foot traffic and the liability potential (even in the 1920s).
Also, I recall the intermediate rug from the 1970s (which I “guess-timate was from the late 1940s). It is shaped exactly the same as the modern replacement.
As many probably know here, I “grew up” in the Loew’s in the late 1960s through early 1980s. The place is very personal to me. I don’t mean to nit-pick. I just care about the place a great deal, as one would care about a house they owned for 82 years and that cannot be replaced.
Do you have more of these photos (besides the ones on the website)? Any chance I could see them? Would be willing to come to the theatre to view them…
I’ll buy the slippery theory. Makes sense and I didn’t think of that. The tile is not completely smooth and I’m sure this was done to increase traction.
The tile is actually about ¼ inch higher than the marble portion of the floor, which makes me think the tile came later on. I forgot to mention that.
Sure would like to know what’s under that tile (we may never know). One doesn’t see terrazzo tile floors much anymore. They are now treasures unto themselves. In the Loew’s the brass divider strips must be 1/8 inch wide. You just don’t see that anymore.
Three more questions that I’m hoping someone can answer:
Where did the beautiful side table come from? Is it original to the theatre? The side table is on the right side of the lobby just before the right side grand staircase. It’s visible in the above photo.
Also, where did that huge oval table in the lobby promenade come from? Is it original to the theatre.
Are there any other “loose fittings” (furniture, statues, paintings) that are still a part of the Loew’s Jersey? I know there are tons of storage space in the building.
In any case, the two beautiful pieces of furniture are indicative of the level of refinement that could be found in this theatre (and can still be seen with a little thought). Look behind the first 1/32 of an inch of all surfaces and you will see true wonder.
The marble still exists and is plainly visible in this view:
However, the tarrazzo tile covers this up in the main lobby proper.
I wonder how much of this is there under the tile?…
(Once again I get all dreamy-eyed, and think of what it could look like if this covers the entire lobby. It is most certainly under the candy counter.)
I think I discovered something that has not been brought up here before. I was recently in the Loew’s Jersey lobby, sitting down next to the candy counter, when I noticed the floor. The is an honest to goodness, real marble floor under the terrazzo tile main lobby floor!!! It is plainly visible behind the counter—beautiful white, black, and red inlaid marble.
Which begs the question, why was it covered up at some point? Was it damaged beyond repair for some reason (marble is relatively soft and might not have held up under the foot traffic) or is it still there, waiting to be restored? Another question, is it just edging around the oval carpet that used to be there or is the entire lobby floor made of marble?! (I wouldn’t put it past anyone one in the 1920s to build a full marble floor to be covered with rug!) Just very curious? Does anyone know?
The tarrazzo looks good. I wouldn’t want to pull that up unless I was absolutely sure about the marble first.
Lastly, it’s nice to see the pelmet back up over the proscenium again — a very nice restoration job!!!
Stillwagon, I remember that lounge “screen” like it was yesterday. It seemed like it wasn’t much effort to project the film on a flat white wall in the mezzanine lounge. I remember it had a violet hue (if that makes any sense). It was about 12 feet high by 30 feet wide, as I recall. A very nice feature, many people chose to watch the movie in this lounge.
The Loew’s Jersey had the best light show in Journal Square. I as recall the coves over the orchestra and under the balcony seating could be lit in any color—most often in violet, red, and gold. Radio City also has “mood lighting.”
The Stanley in Journal Square was your typical (though huge) Eberson atmospheric house with clouds projected on the ceiling with “stars” twinkling.
This is what the Loew’s Jersey is about in large part. In 2010, it is an utterly amazing thing to witness. Note the complete silence of the 1,000+ person audience during the showing. This truly is a Cinema Treasure in the greatest meaning of the term:
Easily the biggest turnout I’ve ever seen there! It was such a great thing to witness—and there were all kinds of people there. The audience seemed liked a good cross-section of the NJ population.
It should also be mentioned that this is by far the best behaved movie audience I know of, and I see it in show after show. They are very quiet during the movie (except for the expected film reactions) and the cells phones are put away once the movie starts. It must be the surroundings that bring out this good behavior in the audience. I have never heard 1,000+ people be so quiet before!
Although I suspect that part of this is due to the acoustical design of the auditorium. My theory is that the light coves under the balcony trap the sound of the orchestra audience; and the side wall coves trap the balcony audience sound. I would not put it past the architects of that time.
Movie was great! Organ was great! Theatre was fantastic! $1 popcorn. $1 soda. $6 to $8 to get in. How can you beat it?!
Hi LuisV, Hope you made it to the Loew’s Jersey. If you did, any thoughts? It’s quite a place, isn’t it?!
Spectrum, once they open the balcony (which is more than half the capacity of the theatre), the Loew’s Jersey is really going to take off. Opening that balcony is going to offer so many new possibilities.
Another important “must do” is to get the A/C working full tilt in the summer. All of this will happen. I’m sure of it. Doing so will increase the capacity of the theatre by another 25 percent. The balcony should take priority since that represents about 60 percent more capacity. These improvements aren’t cumulative but rather geometric. Once the momentum gets going, it goes only upwards and very quickly at that.
The Loew’s greatest asset is location. “If you build it they will come.” Think of the potential audience just within 10 miles of this theatre. It boggles the mind. It is easily accessible by car, bus, rail, and air. What’s left?!
LuisV, I am listening to the Loew’s Jersey organ via YouTube tonight. Listening through YouTube is like trying to fit Niagara Falls through a drinking straw. I’m glad you’re going to hear it in person. You are going to be utterly amazed. I will be there too. Between the organ, the theatre, and the film, it brings back a lot of what the experience was like in the 1920s—not that I was there of course, but I have a extra sense about these things.
The original Loew’s Jersey marquee—with the French curve. It was quite distinct and beautiful — even better looking at night with the milk glass back lit letters.
Have you seen this?
Ah, those were the days!
It’s very nearly the same marquee that was on the New York Paramount:
The Loew’s Jersey tower sign was also very impressive. It must have been 100 feet tall, and it also had elegant curves.
Bolorkay, I couldn’t agree more completely. I grew up in the Loew’s in the 1960s-1980s. It’s second life is truly amazing, isn’t it?! I’ve heard that Marcus Loew once said, “we sell tickets to theatres, not movies.” There was/is some truth in that.
LuisV, hope you enjoy the organ and “Nosferatu.” I think you’re in for a big surprise! Another still existing theatre that I think has a lot of potential is the old Brooklyn Paramount. Much of it is still intact. This theatre has one of the best prosceniums going. Just that was a show in itself. For some reason, it reminds me of the Wonder Theatres.
Hi LuisV, The Loew’s Jersey seems to be building momentum as an important classic film venue. If they play their cards right, this could be THE classic film venue for the entire country.
I don’t know. It’s hard to compare the 5 Wonder Theatres. The Kings is quite possibly more beautiful than the Jersey; however the Kings is somewhat remote and the years have not been kind to it. I think it will eventually be restored. The 175th St. is totally different in style from the Jersey and it too is beautiful. How can they be compared, really? Again, the Paradise attempts to evoke an Italian courtyard which it does very successfully—again a real beauty. The Jersey is a “hard-top” opera house inspired palace. The Valencia is another atmospheric and the “restoration” has not been kind or appropriate.
Give the Jersey another look. Have you seen the 1929 photos at their website? It may be a matter of taste. Only the Jersey has a theatre pipe organ. Have you heard it? As you mentioned, only the Jersey is showing classic film, which is what the Wonder Theatres were built for in the first place.
I agree that it is incredible that the 5 Wonder Theatres still remain. It really defies the odds. Of course the loss of these buildings would be simply unacceptable. “We’re going to raze the theatre.” “But you can’t” The “can'ts” have won—and they HAVE TO be restored. We’re winning when it comes to the Wonder Theatres.
Agree about the Uptown, and the defunct Chicago Paradise and the SF Fox—the best.
The Hollywood is lovely but smaller and more awkward than the Wonder Theatres. The New Amsterdam is a Broadway theatre and not a movie palace, but it is lovely. Radio City is in a class by itself. It is the klieg-lit pinacle (to borrow Ben Hall’s words).
Wasn’t aware of the Canal Theatre. I will look into it.
From a fellow theatre lover,
MDB, the 1929 photos are great! Thanks so much for posting them. They answered many questions for me.
You’re welcome, Rob. I cannot help but gush when it comes to something as rare and unique as the Loew’s Jersey.
I agree with you partially about the brightness of the photos. In addition to what you said, I think the nicotine stains, general grime, and darkening lacquer of 50+ years has a lot to do with the present dark appearance of the theatre. I’m sure the interior walls will eventually be cleaned, and this alone would make the theatre much brighter.
I would think that the lighting scheme (I found your discussing about LEDs fascinating) would be different depending on the old surfaces vs. the restored.
It’s incredible just how many scenes there are in this theatre. Every turn and every few steps bring with them a completely different and interesting view. As you know, it was planned that way to “keep ‘em moving.” There’s only so much time to change audiences between shows (in the good old days). My favorite view was always coming into the auditorium from the mid-balcony level lobby. Used to sneak up there when I was a kid in the early 1970s—before the theatre was tri-plexed. The theatre seemed more intact back then, except that the lobby mezzanine promenade and Music Room had been blocked off. Much of the art work was still around back then.
Isn’t it amazing how the architects managed to design a completely symmetrical lobby and auditorium on such an oddball site? The design is extremely efficient and makes the best use of the space available. I’m also amazed by the sight lines (every seat is perfect) and the acoustics. I know for a fact that one can hear a person talking on the stage from the projection booth.
Any chance you could post those 1929 auditorium photos? Please?
What a place!
To sum it all up, here is the Martin Landau near soliloquy from “The Majestic” from 2001:
Now that you’re back we’ve decided to reopen.
How hard can it be?
We fix the place up—sell tickets.
Look around. It’s a dump.
I am looking around and all I see is potential.
Potential for what? This place is ready to fall down. All you have to do is walk outside and give it a good shove.
You are wrong you know.
Oh, I know She doesn’t look like much now,
but once this place was like a palace.
That’s why we called Her The Majestic.
Any man, woman, child could buy their ticket.
They’d walk right in.
There they’d be.
Here we’d be.
“Yes Sir,” “Yes Ma'am,"
Enjoy the show!
In they’d come entering a palace,
Like in a dream, like in Heaven.
Maybe you had worries and problem out there,
But once you came through those doors,
They didn’t matter any more,
And you know why?,
Chaplin, that’s why,
Fred and Ginger.
They were gods,
and they lived up there.
That was Olympus.
Would you remember if I told you,
Just how lucky we felt to be here?!
To have the privilege of watching them!
This television thing,
Why would you want to stay home,
and watch a little box?
Because it’s convenient,
Because you don’t have to get dressed up,
Because you can sit there?
How can you call that entertainment?
Where are the people?
Where is the audience?
Where is the magic?
I’ll tell you.
In a place like this,
The magic is all around you.
The trick is to see it.
A final thought…or two…(I’m on a roll)…
The most amazing and wonderful thing about the Loew’s Jersey is that it is one of the very few (countable on one hand?) very large 1920s movie palaces that still has a theatre pipe organ, and still shows movies.
Sorry, the Castro, the Byrd, etc. can’t measure up to this place—literally. That’s just a fact. Although these theatres do wonderful work to keep the tradition alive and well.
One cannot get this experience in New York City. Either the theatres are gone, or closed, or they have different uses now. In terms of the building and facilities, the Loew’s Jersey was in the same class as the Times Square Paramount, the Capitol, and the Roxy in my opinion—all no more.
Certain people tend to make a big deal out of the new (c. 1967) Ziegfeld. I would like to ask them, “do you want to see a real theatre!?”
Want the 1920s movie palace experience? Come to New Jersey. We still have it here.
I think it has a very bright future ahead of it.
Very highly recommend these photos of the Loew’s Jersey from when it was brand new in 1929, if you haven’t already seen them:
Click on each photo for a much larger version. Even in the b/w photos, it looks like the interior was much brighter then than it is today. The furniture and artwork adds so much to the interior.
Though somewhat smaller than the defunct SF Fox, I think the Loew’s Jersey is more beautiful. The Loew’s Jersey is on a par with only one other theatre I know of that remains today, and that is the Midland in Kansas City.
Ah, if it could only look like it does in these photos again! Well, we can always dream and work towards the goal.
Incidently, wasn’t the theatre originally named “Loew’s Jersey City Theatre”? “The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre” also works well as a name for this very rare jewel.
Hi Rob, Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions in depth. I forgot that one cannot see such details from 60+ feet away. If the curtains are in such bad shape that they are falling under their own weight, they should come down. New drapes, medallions, etc. that size must cost a small fortune; but I’m sure that they will be restored eventually. Really looking forward to the new traveler. That will make a world of difference in terms of a good presentation.
I worry about this theatre, but I’m glad to hear that it is in such good hands. The radiator grills look fine and are a vast improvement over no grills at all. They will blend in very well.
Of course, anything that affects the presentation has to be dealt with first. Ornament can come later. I believe you’re doing it in the right order: stabilize the building (done), get the mechanical and stage systems working (in progress), and then restore the interior surfaces.
Again, thanks for answering my questions.
All the best,