Loew's Paradise Theatre

2413 Grand Concourse,
Bronx, NY 10468

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Ziggy
Ziggy on June 24, 2004 at 1:47 pm

I’ve always wanted to get inside this place. I’ve only been past the outside once. Thanks, Damien, for the great links! If only some folks like the people who are fixing up the Loew’s Jersey could fix this place up.

bamtino
bamtino on June 24, 2004 at 8:54 am

An interior image of the Paradise can be seen in this recent CNN.com story:
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bamtino
bamtino on June 24, 2004 at 7:35 am

Here’s an image of the Paradise’s facade from 1995:
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An image from 1970:
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A series of images from September 2002:
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A number of images can be found here:
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Melanie
Melanie on June 11, 2004 at 7:52 pm

A few months ago, I tracked down the phone number for the construction office at the Paradise, and because I happened to speak to a worker who was also from Brooklyn, I learned some more current information about the theater. Yep, as people have said, they are still looking for a tenant (most probably to market latino music venues in the newly restored auditorium). The worker said that everything is being restored meticulously: the scupltures, ceiling, cloud machine, chandeliers. Though the facad out front doesn’t seem like it, it sounds like the inside has been brought back to what everyone remembers. They have been working on it non stop for the past year or so, under the direction of Gerald Lieblich of First Paradise Theaters Corp. It seems impossible to believe that anyone would put such a genuine effort into restoration if only intending to sell it to a tenant who would let it decay again. I wonder what Lieblich’s motives are.
Another note – In response to the rather pessimistic evaluation about the restoration posted a few months ago, I urge you not to forget all of the sucessful restoration projects that have saved theaters all over the country, many of them dependant on the surrounding community standing up and claiming ownership of this part of their past. Specifically I am thinking of a theater in Columbus Ohio, where all the restoration costs were paid through fundrasing, and the theater was repieced together part by part. And its treasures (or the treasures of Loew’s Paradise) were “not up for grabs” or vandalized, because the community felt and acted as owners of the theater as they volunteered to be ushers and curated film festivals and special performances.
Let us not forget that this Paradise was built around Eberson’s dreams – Maybe the Bronx needs to start dreaming again about what this landmark could mean for the community that lives around it now. (At on point in the 90’s I think there was even a school inside…)

Mitch45
Mitch45 on June 2, 2004 at 9:00 pm

My parents moved to the Bronx from Brooklyn in 1960 and settled on Harrison Avenue between Burnside and West Tremont Ave’s, only a few blocks from the Paradise. I was born in ‘65 and we moved to Queens in '70 so I never got the chance to see a movie there. My mother did, though, and she talks about that theater to this day.

William
William on May 4, 2004 at 8:33 pm

The size of the theatre plays a major part in it’s future. In midtown you had three theatres with 5000+ seat. (Roxy, Capital and Radio City) 5000 seats is a lot of property to fill and keep filled. So theatre chain dumped larger palaces. So Fox dropped the Roxy Theatre when they could more money on the property value of the sale. Loew’s dropped the Capital for the building of the new Uris Building (Paramount Plaza later name), they had the nearby State Theatre twin. So they had a Times Square theatre, was closer to Times Square and a twin which they could not do the Capital. Look at when Fox West Coast Theatres (National Theatre) wanted to sell the Fox San Francisco to that city, for a small amount. But the city and the bond vote lost and the theatre was razed.
So Loew’s dropped the ball on the Paradise, once they see the theatre was not making any real profit.
During the last years of the Paradise was Loew’s maintaining it?? Was it kept clean?? Or did they just run it into the ground and just close it?? Because when I went to see a film over at the Coronet Theatre on the eastside, a few months before they were to close the theatre. You could tell big time that the chain was not doing anything in maintenance to the theatre.

RobertR
RobertR on May 4, 2004 at 8:05 pm

They are waiting to tear it down like everything else, Ny developers HATE landmark status. Now that the owners of the Sutton have had the perfectly sound facade smashed apart there is nothing to landmark and that will be going next. How the Kings can be left to sit that long rotting and not even make sure that if it is left empty that it’s not vandalized or falling apart from the weather? Any city would tear down the Roxy would tear down anything.

William
William on May 4, 2004 at 6:25 pm

Thanks Peter for the info on the booth area.

I guess the city does not care about some of the history of the borough. Trump should use some of his millions on something that is good for the city and the borough like restoring the Paradise Theatre.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 4, 2004 at 5:39 pm

What is the borough of the Bronx doing during all of this?! The whole building should be landmarked. Amazing that The Bronx has one of the great American buildings in their midst and are letting it rot. Are the idiots who populate our goverments as stupid as I think or are they just waiting for a developer to line their pockets and build condos.

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on May 4, 2004 at 5:31 pm

William:
The booth I was referring to as removed was the original booth at the top of the upper balcony: there are new walls and passageways up there where the booth used to be, but no room for projection equipment. I even climbed the iron ladder to go over the area in the hopes that maybe they had just put up a false ceiling, but there’s only a catwalk-type area above these little rooms. To put a booth back up there would require the new walls and ceiling to come down. The tenant who started the renovations had no plans to show movies there, he thought he could turn the place into a boxing hall (hence the light coffer in the ceiling) or some sort of concert venue. His problem was that he spent his money on the theatre and not on renovating the storefronts attached to it first – the rents from those stores were going to help pay for the project. Since he never fixed up those stores, he couldn’t keep them rented or get good money for them.

William
William on May 4, 2004 at 4:30 pm

Those former projection booths were maybe the ones that were used when the theatre was plexed. The Loew’s Jersey Theatre has two former booths under it’s balcony. You still would have the original booth located in the upper balcony area. As for equipped for film that anybodys guess, I say all you have up there is four walls.

As Peter said about the “six months” that security guard mentioned, so that people think there is something happening to the theatre. Its just some Hope, but six months always turns into six years and then…. As Loew’s turns 100 this year, we can thank them for building these Great Theatres and maintaining them into 70’s & 80’s.
And we can curse at them for dropping the ball in not letting them remain a major part of each area they are located in. Thats to say if Loew’s had not dropped them from the circuit. The stronger money making plexes in the circuit, would or could pay some of the cost to maintain them in a operating form. Then just dropping them to sit and rot away. Because they are large buildings that need to be maintained on a regular schedule.

Lawrence
Lawrence on May 4, 2004 at 2:13 pm

As Gus Portacalus said in the Big Fat Greek Wedding … “and there you GO!” That’s the information we’ve all been waiting for and now have been told! Thank You Peter!

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on May 4, 2004 at 4:23 am

I was in the Paradise last year – we had a meeting with the landlord about the potential of taking on the property (I work for the Galaxy Theatre Corp. as the Director of Film Programming for the Lafayette Theatre’s Big Screen Classics series and other special film events). That “six months” that the security guard mentioned has been the mantra for the past several years, virtually no work has taken place since the last tenant (the guy who was beginning the renovations) defaulted last year. The place is in need of tons of work to get ready for any kind of show. The restoration of the lobby area is magnificent – about the best I’ve ever seen. Equal to it is the work on the underside of the balcony – spectacular hand-craftsmanship. But, and it’s a big but, there are no seats (I understand that they are at Irwin seating awaiting payment!), the projection booth has been removed and replaced by what are either very small private boxes or technical areas, the entire stage rigging is gone, there is no air conditioning (heat is there, however, whether it’s working or not wasn’t answered to our satisfaction), and the walls are only renovated up to a certain point – the rest is still only stabilized and not repaired. The ceiling, however, was repaired and painted a gorgeous azure blue and then, amazingly, a giant coffer for lights was cut right into the center of it, so it’s now useless as an atmospheric element! The owner of the place wants whoever is the next tenant to pay for all the remaining renovations (our best guess: $5 million minimum) and pay a huge rent on top of it. Sadly, I don’t think it will ever open again as a theatre. I believe that only the facade and lobby have been landmarked.

br91975
br91975 on May 4, 2004 at 1:23 am

Here’s the URL for the 5.2.04 Daily News article Richard referenced:

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mahermusic
mahermusic on May 4, 2004 at 12:41 am

You’re getting “Paradise” and “Wonder Theatre” confused. The Loew’s Paradise was one of the five Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” built 1929-1930 in the New Jersey/New York area. Only the one in the Bronx is called the Paradise. The other Loew’s Wonder Theatres are the Valencia (Queens), Kings (Brooklyn), Jersey (Jersey City), and the 175th (Manhattan).

photo59
photo59 on May 3, 2004 at 7:27 pm

As I mentioned in a previous e-mail, I was told by the security guard in front of the Paradise the theater would open in about 6 months for non-film presentations. However, in the Sunday (5/2/04) edition of the New York Daily News there was an article on the remaining Loew’s Paradise theaters in New York City as well as the Paradise in Jersey City. In this article they stated the owner(s) of the Loew’s Paradise at 2413 Grand Concourse are still searching for a tenant. I’m not sure who or what to believe at this point. Regardless, the present owner(s) are definitely in the process of remodeling the theater. I only hope they will do justice to architect John Eberson’s work.

NyTeck01
NyTeck01 on May 2, 2004 at 9:21 pm

Forgive my spelling got caught up in the moment.

NyTeck01
NyTeck01 on May 2, 2004 at 9:20 pm

I could only hope they would reopen the Paradise as it was a movie theater, but I’d take would I could get. I remember seeing my first movies there, Back to The Future II being the the last movie I can remember seeing there. I remember the stairs that went up and around the entire place. Looking at the ceiling and thinking it most be a tall man to draw that high. Yes I was damn young, but now at 22, I remember that I went there with my father, one of the only things I can remember really doing with him, the Paradise, I hope it comes back all right. To share my old memories and make new ones.

RobertLotman
RobertLotman on April 28, 2004 at 5:02 am

My father delivered mail to the Paradise and I was often able to get in for free during the summer months. I remember seeing the lines for Psycho going around the street. I saw many epics there including the Ten Commandments,Ben-Hur and King of Kings. Only a majestic theatre could give justice to those movies. I graduated there from Clinton HS in 1969.

photo59
photo59 on April 27, 2004 at 10:19 pm

I went up to Loew’s Paradise on the Grand Concourse (188th Street) on Saturday April 24, 2004 to photograph it for my ‘Vanishing NYC’ project. The place is being remodeled! I spoke with the security guard who informed me the theater will reopen in about six months, but not as a movie house, but as a theater for concerts and events such as boxing. I don’t know how accuarte this information is but it sounds positive. Whether or not they will retain the Loew’s Paradise sign, I have no idea. At least some of these great places are being revitalized.

JimRankin
JimRankin on April 4, 2004 at 11:41 am

That is the situation about restrictive ordinances as disclosed in that landmark book: “The Best Remaining Seats…” by the late Ben M. Hall.

IanJudge
IanJudge on April 4, 2004 at 5:40 am

It is my understanding that due to restrictive zoning codes on the Grand Concourse, the Loew’s Paradise never had an overhanging marquee like most other theatres. All early photos of it show it without any kind of awning.

MarcoAcevedo
MarcoAcevedo on April 4, 2004 at 2:42 am

Are there any early shots of the Paradise with a marquee? I’d only known it without one. Maybe it ws “modernized” in the early 60s?

MarcoAcevedo
MarcoAcevedo on March 29, 2004 at 7:08 pm

When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s Fordham Road at the Grand Concourse was indeed the place to shop. I remember getting a first real sense of “cosmopolitan” there. Grand Concourse had an almost European stateliness, and the Paradise was the crowning jewel there, even at that late a date. My dad, now a simple barber in semi-retirement in Florida, took a hairstyling course at the ABC styling school right up the block from the theater, back in the 70s heydey of Warren Beatty’s “Shampoo” and the John Travolta blown-back D.A. A few years before he had taken me to see The Ten Commandments there on the annual Easter screening, one of my formative experiences. The theater was still a single screen at the time, and it was quite a spectacle to see the teeming multitudes in the orchestra level below (we were late so could only get balcony seats, but that was allright by me). The place was packed, and I have never seen a movie theater audience of that size ever again, not even for the later blockbusters. It was all spectacle, on the screen, in the great room, on the ceiling, in the monstrous lobby. I vaguely recall satyrs and maidens along balustraded grand staircases and mezzanines. Within a few years the Paradise (as well as the RKO Fordham around the on corner on Fordham Road) had been divvied up, but I was yet able to get a sense of the old grandeur, much diminished, one last time. I took my kid brother to see an Art Carney movie, “The Late Show,” which was playing in the main room on the old balcony level. The collonades on the sides and the sky ceiling were still there, but unlit. That old view of the orchestra was sealed off by a black floor, giving the sense of a bottomless pit. The biggest thrill my brother and I got that day was a teaser trailer for the forthcoming Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings!!! complete with ominous Wagnerian music and choirs. No images, just music, crawling type on a black background, and the logo. My personal last thrill at the Loew’s Paradise.

moe1453
moe1453 on March 27, 2004 at 6:14 am

Loews Paradise was one of the seven wonders of the world for me growing up in the Bronx during the 50-70's
I remember the goldfish in the lobby fountain, the mysterious ceiling with its moving clouds, such elegance. We would follow up the movies by going to Krums for the best ice cream.