Loew's Triboro Theatre

2804 Steinway Street,
Astoria, NY 11103

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Showing 51 - 75 of 77 comments

RobertR
RobertR on May 20, 2005 at 8:53 am

Here is a shot of the marquee at night.

frankdev
frankdev on May 4, 2005 at 1:43 pm

I grew up in the triboro. it was beautiful, fun place to see a movie. not only did i see movies there but my graduation form bryant
high school was held in the triboro. i still miss it.

hardbop
hardbop on March 31, 2005 at 12:25 pm

Ah, that answers the question. The Broadway is the cinemas that was on Broadway between 31st and 32nd Streets just east of the subway stop. The Strand at one time was I believe some sort of studio, like Kaufman/Astoria Studios. What they filmed, or still film, there I don’t know; I never went in there. There were (and are) retail stores in the building that must have been the Strand. There was also a bowling alley at one time in the same complex I believe that was in the basement and that closed some time since I moved to Astoria in the 1970s.

How can I find out when the Strand and Broadway closed?

hardbop
hardbop on March 31, 2005 at 12:01 pm

I have lived in Astoria since ‘87 and didn’t know there were four theatres on Steinway! Only the dreadful Astoria six-'plex was open when I moved here and now that is closed.

I noticed that the theatre on Crescent & Broadway was mentioned. That was the Strand.

I take it that the Triboro was on the northwest corner of Steinway & 28th Avenue. Those apartments are the pits, though there is nice coffee shop/bar on the corner.

What block was the Steinway? I don’t recall a Brothers store off the top of my head, but the building on the southwest corner of 30th Avenue and Steinway looks like it could have been a theatre at one time.

Then there was the Olympia on Steinway & 25th Street. That must be just south of the Grand Central on the same block where the Triboro used to be.

Where was the fourth Steinway Street Cinema located?

And there must have been a cinema on the corner of 32nd Street and Broadway, now the site of a bank. The building looks like it was a cinema at one time.

Benjamin
Benjamin on March 23, 2005 at 12:27 pm

BoxOfficeBill: Thanks for the Mickey Rooney suggestions. I looked up “Quicksand” on Amazon, and it doesn’t seem to be the movie I’m thinking of. I wonder if I’ve mixed up Mickey Rooney with another actor? Or perhaps it wasn’t a carnival or circus, but something else that seemed to me — a kid — to be a carnival or circus side show? (Maybe it was a horse racing stable?)

It’s funny how memories are, though. In my mind it is a relatively vivid image (I can see them in some kind of hayloft), and I distinctly remember being none too pleased with the fact that my father seemed to be laughing so much and so thoroughly enjoying this scene in the movie (as though he was putting all kids — including me — into the same category as the kid on the screen).

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on March 22, 2005 at 1:17 pm

Benjamin— here’s M. Rooney’s filmography for ‘53-'57: “Off Limits” (a Bob Hope service comedy), “Drive a Crooked Road” (M as race-car driver), “Atomic Kid” (M filled-up with uranium), “Bridges at Toko-Ri,” “Bold and the Brave” (war action), “Francis in the Haunted House,” “Operation Mad Ball” (Jack Lemmon service comedy),“Baby Face Nelson” (gangster bio). None of these fits your description. In 1950, Rooney acted in “Quicksand” as a hapless car mechanic needled by Peter Lorree, who runs a penny arcade. I don’t know whether the arcade bursts into flame at the end, or whether there’s a child actor involved.

Benjamin
Benjamin on March 22, 2005 at 11:59 am

Ken: From reading that webpage, the “Grand” seems to be the theater I’m thinking of (e.g., 2,178 seats seems about the right level of grandeur).

Sorry, that was my mistake regarding the addresses. Although I grew up in Queens, the street numbering system has always given me a problem, and with my map being cut in half, I read the map wrong.

Looking at the map again, Ditmars seems to be the equivalent of a 22nd Ave., and the next street to the south is 23rd Ave. I think the hyphenated addres works as follows: the first number reflects the number of the cross street at the north end of the block, and the number after the hypen relfects how far that building is from the northern end of the block (with odd numbers being on the eastern side of the street).

So, if I’m reading the map correctly this time, an address for the “Grand” at 22-15 (closer to 22nd St. and on the eastern side of 31st St.) and for the “Ditmars” at 22-68 (further away from 22nd St. and on the western side of 31st St.) would seem about right. (Although I don’t have any personal recollection of the “Ditmars” at all.)

Thanks again for your help! It seemed so strange that such a large theater (which was so bustling and full of life in my memory of it in the mid-1950s) was so much “under the radar.” But since it apparently closed in the mid-1950s, one can see how it more or less fell off the map. But I guess it’s the same as the Jamaica Theater west of Parsons Blvd. on Jamaica Ave. — except that that one closed before I ever saw it in operation.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 22, 2005 at 10:34 am

Benjamin;
Try looking at the Grand Theatre /theaters/630/

I was just about to add the Ditmars Theatre but have now held back. My F.D.R. actually gives an address as 22-68 31st Ave but thats quite a way from Ditmars Blvd so I thought it could be a mis-print? Reading what you have just posted here and whats said about the Ditmars on the Grand Theatre page, i’m not so sure now. Maybe as a local you will know better than me and post a correct entry for the Ditmars.

Benjamin
Benjamin on March 22, 2005 at 10:21 am

P.S. — I haven’t been to that area in ages, but looking at the Hagstom, the particular block that I’m thinking about seems to be a double-sized block. (For some reason, 32nd St. discontinues at 23rd Ave. and then starts up again at Ditmars.)

Benjamin
Benjamin on March 22, 2005 at 10:17 am

Ken:

Looking at my Hagstrom, I get the impression that 22-68 31st St. would be approximately one subway stop further to the south from where I think the movie theater I’m talking about was. (It’s hard for me to read this particular map in my Hagstrom atlas because, wouldn’t you know it, the area is interrupted by the book’s spiral binding.)

It’s funny, and I may be way off, but in my recollection this theater is a “major” movie theater with a big marquee (in my mind, it is just one step below the Triboro in grandeur) and just about at the end of the line of the “elevated” along 31st St. (which even as a kid seemed too “delicious” for a disaster movie scene — with the “el” trains shooting off the end of the elevated structure).

In my memory the theater is on the corner, with the big marquee facing the elevated on 31st St. and the left side of the auditorium running along Ditmars. I think there was a “tunnel” foyer/lobby running east-west, until it hit a north-south “real” lobby running across the back of the orchestra level.

2) The Mickey Rooney movie (if there was one, and I haven’t mixed different movies/TV shows together in my mind) would have been around 1954, 1955 or 1956. (I once tried looking it up on Imdb, but it was very difficult to do — it might have been an earlier movie of his that was re-released or on a double-bill?)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 22, 2005 at 9:45 am

Benjamin;

  1. The closest I can get to your 31st St and Ditmars Boulevard address is in my 1950 Film Daily Yearbook, the Ditmars Theatre, 22-68 31st Street which had 597 seats listed. This is not currently listed on Cinema Treasures.

  2. Approx what year was the Mickey Rooney movie?

Benjamin
Benjamin on March 22, 2005 at 8:52 am

Thanks (yet again!) Warren and BoxOfficeBill for the helpful info.

Since I’m not sure where else to place these questions, the Triboro site seems as good a place as any:

1) Does anyone know the name of the movie theater in Astoria on, I believe, 31st St. and Ditmars? I remember being taken there in the mid-1950s by some older neighborhood kids to see some kiddie matinee movie — maybe even “Our Gang” comedies.

2) Does anyone remember a Mickey Rooney movie where he plays a guardian of a young boy. The boy is rebellious (sp?) and uncooperative. But the kid becomes cooperative all of a sudden when they go to some kind of carnival or circus and get caught in a fire.

Thanks in advance for any info anyone has!

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on March 22, 2005 at 7:14 am

Benjamin— Abbott and Costello’s final film, “Dance with Me Henry,” opened on 26 December 1956, so it might have been that film you saw. The juvenile roles in it were played by Gigi Perreau and Rusty Hamer.

Benjamin
Benjamin on March 21, 2005 at 2:12 pm

I think the Triboro was the first atmospheric theater I was ever taken to — maybe I was four or five. Since my father took me to it on a nice clear Spring or Fall night (when the temperature inside was about the same as the temperature outside), I couldn’t figure out if we were really outdoors or whether the inside of the theater was just designed to look that way. I think I tried to ask my father if we were really outdoors or indoors, but he was such a “kidder” I don’t think I trusted his answer — whatever it was!

Thanks mike j h for the name of the Olympia. I remember being taken to it to see an Abbott and Costello movie about 1956 or so. (I think the movie ends with them on some kind of train.)

I liked the movie so much, I asked my father if we could stay and see it again. He “warned” me that if we did, I’d miss the Mickey Mouse Show. (Obviously, we went to the theater in the afternoon.) I heard him, but it didn’t really “sink in.” So I was upset at myself when we got home, and I realized that I really didn’t want to miss the Mickey Mouse show! Ah, another childhood lesson learned!

MIke042955
MIke042955 on March 21, 2005 at 1:40 pm

I grew up on 41st St. between Astoria blvd. & 25th Ave.
I used to attend the Loews Saturday matinees and once a year they would raffle 2 bikes (girl/boy). My friend “Steve” won the boy’s bike 2 years in a row. What are the odds on that? There used to be another Theater on Steinway & 25th Ave named “Olympia”. I saw a lot of movies there also. It later turned into a porn theater. The parents on my block would march in front on Saturday mornings with protest signs. That theater was eventually gutted for a clothing & electronics store. Yes, a clothing & electronics store. I don’t know what type of business occupies the space now. Right now the most unique theater is in Suffern, NY. (Layfette theater) which still has the original decor and shows big screen classics, including silent films accompanied by a live pipe organ on Saturday mornings for only $6.00. Search for details online.

Barbara50
Barbara50 on February 10, 2005 at 10:21 am

I can still see it in my head – the artificial sky, with the stars and drifting clouds. If the movie was boring, I would always look at that sky and be entertained. Also, that red velvet curtain in front of the screen. It was all so gorgeous, and I miss it to this day.

FrankCastle
FrankCastle on May 17, 2004 at 4:03 pm

I am a bit younger than you guys (42) but still remember the great times we had going to the Loew’s Triboro. Seeing movies from the early 70’s like “5 Fingers Of Death”, “Mark Of The Devil”, “The Chosen Survivors” etc, in that big theatre always brings back great childhood memories. People my age always talk about it being torn down as one of the first bad things we can remember that happened in the community (“remember the Loews Triboro?..”). We’re STILL pissed that they built a couple of 2 family homes there… What a slap in the face. The Astoria Theatre was kinda nice back then, but nowhere near a classic like the Triboro. It was more like the first big screen TV you’d ever seen! Then there was the Strand Theatre down on Broadway and Crescent St. It was small but a bit nicer than the Astoria. Until they closed it and made it a furniture store, then a deli.. Hopefully someone will reopen the RKO Keiths in Flushing in it’s full glory one day. That was one of the last amazing theatres I was able to go to as a kid. I can’t even begin to describe how cool that place was! Apparently some oriental guys have been trashing that one too.. These money grabbing multiplexes of today are one of the reasons that I only rent movies now. Kids growing up today don’t know what they missed!

JohnRAllman
JohnRAllman on February 20, 2004 at 2:25 pm

I think Warren is right about the elevators in the Loew’s Triboro being put out of use by the early 1940s. I started going to the Triboro in 1943 and don’t remember ever having seen those elevators. But then I wouldn’t have been allowed to go to the mezzanine or balcony unattended. But the restrooms were on the 2nd floor, as I remember. Who could forget all that faux Renaissance interior.

RobertR
RobertR on February 20, 2004 at 8:06 am

The Astoria theatre which just closed last year could also have been used for live shows, but it has been destroted also. I was amused when I read about the Queens Borough President fighting the Landmark designation. The one who replaced him was no better. I am not sure if you are aware of the Amphitheatre from the 1939 Worlds Fair in Flushing Meadows park. It had been unused for a few years and finally there was alot of intrest in restoring it and even a promoter willing to contract to put on shows there. Because of a fear from some well connected residents in affluent and somewhat nearby Forest Hills and Kew Gardens all of a sudden an aspestos issue was brought up and the BP used a special fund that required no community board approval to have the structure torn down. These residents were concerned about what kind of concerts would be given there. Meanwhile the amphitheatre is in the middle of a park and not close by to any homes. All this was carried out despite ongoing plans drawn up, meetings and negotiations with the concert promoter. Another Queens landmark destroyed.

JohnRAllman
JohnRAllman on February 16, 2004 at 4:37 pm

Warren, Thanks for that on the old Steinway building. Next time I’m there, I’ll look for it. You’re right about the uses they might have put the Triboro to. A great loss. The interior of the Triboro is still very real in my head.

JohnRAllman
JohnRAllman on February 16, 2004 at 1:15 pm

SWarren, you’re right in my zone, even down to calling your grandmother Nana (my mother’s mother we called Big Nana, my father’s Little Nana). Anyway, I remember, certainly, the Steinway and the Astoria (which closed only couple of years ago). Where the Steinway used to be is now ,I believe, a parking lot. We saw old movies at the Steinway, including some horror classics. The first time I ever went to a movie at night by mself was at the Steinway. And I remember that long walk from the subway which I used to use for commuting back and forth to my job around 1952-1954.
I saw most of the films you mention at the Triboro. “Jungle Book” (with Sabu, right?) and “National Velevet” and “Two Years Before the Mast” (with Alan Ladd) for sure.
Once in a great whille I’m on Steinway Street and marvel at how even more crowded it is than it used to me, esp. on week-ends. And there’s a much greater ethnic mix as well. Still a vital place to live.
John

JohnRAllman
JohnRAllman on February 15, 2004 at 8:44 am

Many thanks to Warren and William for their info on the Loew’s Triboro. I lived on 28th avenue, between 41st and 42nd Streets. The Triboro was only a breath away. I started attending Saturday matinees in 1943. My collection of poems, LOEW’S TRIBORO, will be published by New Directions in April 2004. On the cover is a picture of the Triboro marquee, and inside on the frontispiece is a picture of the entire building. JohnAllman

William
William on November 15, 2003 at 10:29 am

The Loew’s Triboro Theatre was located at Steinway Street and 28th Ave..

Johnallman
Johnallman on May 22, 2002 at 1:44 pm

Many thanks to William McQuade and Manny for their help in identifying when the Loew’s Triboro was demolished. What a shame, to have lost such a magnificent building and history. I’ll have a new book of poems out around 2003 or 2004 called LOEW’S TRIBORO,from New Directions,and I hope the cover will be a photo of the Loew’s Triboro.

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on March 20, 2002 at 8:02 am

The theater was demolished in 1974. I was involved in the effort to have the theater designated as a landmark. Landmark Preservation Commission had already voted to make it a landmark.

Unfortunately, like everything in New York, politics entered into it. the decision had already been made before a Board of Estimate meeting by the Queens Borough President ( very anti preservationist) that he would vote against making it a landmark. All the other board members voted lockstep behind him (I scratch your back and you scratch mine etc). Although I helped to obtain over 8000 signatures on petitions to save it, few people showed up at the Board meeting. I feel to this day if more support was shown at the board meeting, the results might have been different. Astoria went downhill after that and now their last movie theater Astoria) just closed. Steinway street once had 4 theaters. Now they have none. an interesting footnote is that the public official (Queens Borough president) who basically killed the landmark designation committed suicide a few years later due to a growing scandal which he though would engulf him