RKO Alden Theatre

165-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Showing 51 - 75 of 161 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 11, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Here’s another photo that I took yesterday, this one showing the current status of the former entrance to the RKO Alden at 165-16 Jamaica Avenue, which is now occupied by a store called Expo 2000. If you compare this to a vintage Municipal Tax photo displayed above by “youngnyer1” on January 18, 2007, you will see that the decor across the top of the facade is still the same. When I took this photo, I was standing across the street, under the marquee of the former Loew’s Valencia and directly in front of its boxoffice:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 11, 2007 at 3:19 pm

As Ed Solero mentioned, the 165th Street facade is still reasonably close to the original depicted in the sketch that I posted on 3/28/07. Here are some photographs that I took yesterday. Unfortunately, 165th Street is not wide enough to duplicate that 1928 view, so I had to do it in sections. The first shows the end of the Alden building nearest to Jamaica Avenue. The building was unconnected to buildings on Jamaica Avenue until a store on Jamaica Avenue was converted into a new entrance and lobby. Note in the last photo how the auditorium runs parallel to 165th Street and is behind the portion of the building that contained the original entrance, stores and offices. I believe that the current stores occupy that space, and do not extend into the auditorium itself, which is reportedly still intact,though twinned:

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 8, 2007 at 3:13 am

That facade still exists along 165th, Warren, largely as it appears in the rendering – albeit without the marquee. I’m also sure some of the window fenestration has been altered, but I believe the decorative parapet work is still intact. I noticed it just the other day as I was traveling on the LIRR. I’ll have to take another look next time I pass on the train.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 28, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Some years ago, theatre historian Michael Miller, who was then serving as president of Theatre Historical Society of America, told me that the Alden’s architect was Herbert J. Krapp. Needless to say, I accepted that as fact, and eventually used it in my posting above of January 18th, 2004, which resulted in Krapp being credited in the introduction. But now I must dispute that credit due to two articles that I found yesterday in real estate sections of the Long Island Daily Press. The first, dated April 28, 1928, says that construction of the new Shubert theatre in Jamaica is due to be completed in September and that “the interior decoration will be in early Spanish style. The theatre will seat 1,837 persons in orchestra and balcony. Eugene De Rosa, designer of some of the finest theatres in America, is the architect.” A week later, on May 6th, 1928, the Press ran a sketch of the building’s exterior, and again credited Eugene De Rosa as architect. Unless someone can produce documentary evidence to prove that Herbert J. Krapp designed the theatre, I think that the introductory credit should be changed to Eugene De Rosa…The sketch shows the original 165th Street entrance. At that time, the entire building had no presence on Jamaica Avenue. A narrow entrance and lobby were later added by tunneling through an adjacent building that faced on Jamaica Avenue:

PKoch on February 12, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Thanks, Warren. Wow ! Hot black chicks and two late ‘40’s Universal monster movies ! What a combination ! Just in time for Valentine’s Day 2007 !

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm

On this Father’s Day in 1949, the Alden’s competition in Jamaica included: “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” & “Northwest Stampede” at Loew’s Valencia; “Chicken Every Sunday” & “Canadian Pacific” at the Skouras Merrick; five acts of vaudeville plus “Flight Lieutenant” & “Two Yanks in Trinidad” at the Skouras Jamaica; “Tangier,” “The Chase,” & a Roy Rogers western at the Savoy; “Knock On Any Door” & “The Untamed Breed” at Loew’s Hillside; and “My Dear Secretary” & “Impact” at Prudential’s Carlton:

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 21, 2007 at 10:25 pm

While it may be true that anyone can order photos from the Municipal Archives, I for am quite appreciative of youngnyer1’s efforts to share them with the rest of us here at CT. Thanks a bunch, friend! Looks like you’re saving fellow members a lot of time and money by sharing your collection.

Bway on January 19, 2007 at 6:55 pm

There’s a good photo of the Parthenon Theater on the Queenspix.com website, on the Ridgewood page.

PKoch on January 19, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Thanks, Warren, I’ll go to your links, but I’m not spending $ 30 per photo and a 5 to 6 week wait for one photo of a theater. I daresay many others on this site won’t, either.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 19, 2007 at 4:16 pm

P.S. In the past, I have displayed several tax photos here, one at the Oasis Theatre listing on 7/15/05 at 10:58AM, and one of the Fox Kew Gardens on 2/21/06 at 7:22AM. Both links are still operating. Some of the photos can be disappointing due to the ID sign in the foreground. In the case of the Kew Gardens photo, I was able to crop the sign. Some tax photos are taken from such a distance that you can’t see much of the theatre, like one that I once displayed of the Granada Theatre in Corona.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 19, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Anyone can order tax photos from the NYC Municipal Archives. Prices start at $30 each for an 8"x10" B&W print. There is also a mailing fee and a research charge of $5 if you don’t have the building plot number. You can do the research yourself at the Archives office in downtown Manhattan. You will receive your order in 5 to 6 weeks.

Bway on January 19, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Yes keep them coming. ESPECIALLY the Ridgewood. Are these photos online somewhere, or did you have to obtain them somehow?

Bway on January 19, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Wow, that would be really nice! I have seen plenty of old photos of the Madison (not that I wouldn’t want to see more), but the Ridgewood’s exterior (and especially interior) shots are hard to come by. I have only seen a few old exterior photos of the Ridgewood, and NONE of the interior…..so anything on the Ridgewood would be most welcome.

PKoch on January 19, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Thanks, youngnyer1. I’ll look forward to more of these photos.

What have you got for the Ridgewood and RKO Madison Theaters ?

youngnyer1 on January 18, 2007 at 5:25 pm

This photo was taken in 1941 and shows that “Sergeant York,” was playing, which starred Gary Cooper and Joan Leslie.

The large black dot in the lower right corner is a hole in the negative. Many of the negatives in the collection have began to decompose from age.

This photo is from the NYC Municipal Archives. Between 1939 and 1941, the City of New York, for tax purposes, took photos of all standing buildings in the five boroughs.

View link
Check my other comments to see more photos from this collection.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 22, 2006 at 2:02 pm

Here’s an ad for the original playhouse’s premiere attraction, “Just a Minute,” whose cast of 75 included 16 “specialty dancers” choreographed by the great Russell Markert. The opening on New Year’s Eve, 1928, would soon be overshadowed by that of nearby Loew’s Valencia on January 12, 1929:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 18, 2006 at 8:34 pm

The Alden (originally known as the Shubert Jamaica) was purpose-built for stage plays and became a cinema by default. Architect Herbert Krapp’s design was done on a strict budget and is rather plain in comparison to most of his Broadway theatres, and is likely to disappoint those expecting a “movie palace.”

PKoch on September 18, 2006 at 6:56 pm

You’re welcome, LuisV. Thank YOU ! I’d never been to the Valencia or the Alden, only heard about them, and seen pictures of them. Yes, the RKO Madison was a beautiful show-house in its day, and the Elmwood was a sight to see, too.

LuisV on September 18, 2006 at 6:50 pm

Thanks for the info! Now I remember that I was just out of college when I saw Creepshow. I know The Alden was already divided. I think I remember being in one of the upstairs theaters because it felt like a balcony. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the appreciation for old theaters then that I do now and so I don’t remember very much about the actual theater and what kind of ornamentation was still visible. Has it been determined if the theater is still there behind the dropped ceilings and retail walls?

Way back when, the only theaters I was passionate about were The Valenica and Radio City Music Hall. I can’t believe how many other incredible theaters were around back then that I never got to see like The Madison (from what I’ve read), Loew’s Pitkin, The Midway (Before the plexing), The Triboro, and it goes on and on and on. I’m even sorry about the theaters I only got to see only once like RKO Keith’s in Flushing and the Elmwood.

Nonetheless, for all that we’ve lost I am also grateful for what has been saved though it will never be enough.

PKoch on September 18, 2006 at 2:07 pm

“Creepshow” was released in 1982. It was playing at the Ridgewood Theater on Tuesday, September 23rd, 1982, and I saw an ad for it at the Midway the first Friday of November 1982. On that day, “An Officer And A Gentleman” was playing at the Trylon. That’s the film my friend and I should have seen that evening, rather than “National Lampoon’s Class Reunion” at the Midway. Would have gotten me to the Trylon two years earlier than I actually did.

Here’s the link to “Creepshow” on the IMDb.


Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 14, 2006 at 5:41 pm

Just to close out a “burning” question from the posts of July 18th regarding BrooklynJim’s excellent transit shots of the Alden’s marquee… The co-feature that played with the 3-D martial arts epic “Dynasty” was indeed Andy Warhol’s 3-D “Flesh for Frankenstien” on an eye-popping double bill that played at nabes and grinders all over town in the fall of ‘77, based on some research I did on the NY Times website.

If anyone is interested, you can do a search for “Weekend Movie Clock” on the Times' website and it will return pages and pages of pdf files covering many (not all) of the weekends from as early as 1976. My search was limited to pre-1981. I’m sure many more years of movie clocks may be found if one selectes 1981-Present in search criteria.

LuisV… “Creepshow” was released in 1981, by which time the Alden was already split (was it a twin for a while before a quad?). Anyway, for most if not all of the ‘70’s, the Alden remained a single screen theater.

LuisV on September 14, 2006 at 4:51 pm

I think I saw Creep Show here in the early 70’s when it was already a divided theater. Has anyone been able to determine if any of the detail is still left behind the drop ceilings, store walls etc. Is this theater a diamond in the rough?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 10, 2006 at 1:27 pm

The mind boggles at what “special arrangement” was required for this “unusual entertainment scoop” in March, 1961:

PKoch on July 18, 2006 at 2:30 pm

Thanks, BklynJim ! John Denver, eh ?

“Sunshine on my shoulder makes me sweaty…”

To which I can only add :