Rialto Theatre

1481 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 51 - 75 of 120 comments

nonsportsnut on October 23, 2007 at 9:07 pm

The building at that location, built after the demolishing of the Rialto Theatre, is the Reuters Building.
Frsnk Reighter

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 14, 2007 at 3:13 am

1481 is now a 32 floor high rise with a Chase Bank on the lower floors, one of the four towers that were part of the redevelopment of the 42nd street block. The southwest tower on 8th avenue is yet to be built.

nonsportsnut on October 14, 2007 at 1:57 am

Hi Ed,
Thanks. I had the book (“Ghosts of 42nd Street” by Anthony Bianco)at one time (Before I downsized), but couldn’t remember the name or author.

The 1481 Broadway address was once the early home of the Times Square Visitor’s Center, now housed at 1560 Broadway. Anybody have any idea what is at 1481 Broadway now?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 13, 2007 at 2:00 am

Frank… A photo of Mayer unveiling that mural in the Rialto (the likenesses of the Stooges are clear in the shot) can be found in the excellent book “Ghosts of 42nd Street” by Anthony Bianco.

nonsportsnut on October 12, 2007 at 11:03 pm

I’m a member of the Three Stooges Fan Club in Pennsylvanis.
According to the New York Times (Nov. 23, 1939), Arthur Mayer, operator of the Rialto, the theatre would be redecorated in the pre-
Christmas period with a series of murals reflecting the theatre’s film policy. including Dracula, Frankenstein, Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges, done by artist Nat Karson. Unveiling would take place Christmas Day (Dec. 25, 1939), to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the opening of the “new” Rialto.
Can anyone add to the story, such as what happened to the Murals? Also, the Fan Club is trying to document all the Three Stooges' Personal appearances. Please email me at
Frank Reighter

Also the Fan Club is trying to document all the Thre Stooges Live Personal Appearances. Can anyone supply any dates and locations? Please email me at

Frank Reighter

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 6, 2007 at 9:57 pm

I hope this shot hasn’t already been posted here – although I know that many similar shots from this vantage point have been posted on CT. I date this one to sometime in the second half of 1985. The Rialto II marquee is depicted here showing a triple bill of Kung-Fu flicks from China.

RobertR on August 18, 2007 at 9:19 pm

Day and date with RKO 59 St
View link

William on July 17, 2007 at 11:12 pm

During the opening credits for the film “Willie Dynamite”, you can see both the Rialto and Rialto II marquees and around 53 minutes into the film you can see the Tivoli’s marquee over on 8th. Ave.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Yes William. Sorry! The one further to the WEST was the auxilliary to the main theater entrance.

William on June 5, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Don’t you mean further to the west. The 2nd. shot of 42nd. Street is looking towards the west.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2007 at 1:28 pm

I have to retract a comment I made above based on viewing these most recent photos from Warren. I was positive that of the two 42nd Street marquees for the Rialto, the one closest to the corner of Seventh Ave was the auxilliary marquee and entrance for the main ground level theater. I am obviously wrong about that as one can plainly see that marquee is advertising a different X-rated feature (“Hard Candy”) that must have been playing in the basement-level Rialto II auditorium. The title “Heat Wave” advertised on the Seventh Ave marquee matches the 42nd Street marquee further to the east.

At some point in the ‘80’s, the entrances on 42nd Street must have been re-configured. The ground level Rialto stopped advertising on 42nd Street and exclusively used the Seventh Ave entrance once it went with more mainstream product under the Warner Theater name and the former auxilliary marquee started advertising the martial-arts grinders that screened in the basement level auditorium. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 9, 2007 at 4:36 am

Wareen, another fantastic photo — it practically sizzles off the computer screen. It feels like I’m there.

Mikeoaklandpark on May 8, 2007 at 3:53 pm

This theatre was also used as a legit broadway house in the late 70 -early 80’s. I remember them playing Black and Blue with Leslie Uggums

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 29, 2007 at 1:36 am

The marquee depicted in that 1973 image posted by Warren was the one closest to the corner of Seventh Avenue. This was the auxilliary entrance to the street level Rialto auditorium. I never went to the Rialto, but I understand that using this entrance, patrons entered the theater near the screen. The entrance to the basement level Rialto II was a few doors to the east – just out of frame to the left in the ‘73 image.

I’m positive of that because the Rialto II operated on a grind in the late ‘80’s while Cineplex Odeon re-opened the B'way entrance to the main theater as the Warner, playing first run. During that time, the auxilliary marquee depicted in the shot was used to call attention to the “10 Exciting Theaters” the Duece had to offer. Check out the image I posted above on February 10th, 2007, for illustration.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 27, 2007 at 10:11 am

I’m sure you’re correct — the upper right corner of the pic shows the Art Moderne windows of the Rialto Building.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 11, 2007 at 12:23 am

Scanned from a 1988 edition of the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, devoted to the history of Times Square:

Greatest Movies in USA

By this time, one of the two marquees on 42nd Street was used to welcome folks to the block’s “10 exciting theaters” while the other (presumably for the newer Rialto II basement theater) was used to advertise the usual Kung Fu action fare. Meanwhile, the main auditorium utilized the Seventh Ave/B'way marquee and entrance around the corner for the more mainstream fare with which it (as well as other Duece theaters) hoped to lure general audiences.

RobertR on January 30, 2007 at 7:04 pm

The Devil in it’s second year
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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 11, 2006 at 10:54 pm

I remember that Playland arcade to the right of the Rialto from back in the 1980’s. The Chinese joint next door was a Wendy’s at the time. The Rialto was such a weird theater – not that I ever attended a film there – in that I it had three marquees. The one on Broadway, seen in Warren’s photo, was dark a lot with the entrance closed. The twin marquees (for the Rialto I and II) were around the corner on 42nd Street, where the box office was located. I think Cineplex Odeon re-opened the B'way entrance when they took a stab at scheduling first-run fare here as the Warner Theater just before the whole place was shuttered for good. During these short years, I think the 42nd Street marquees were dark, since the block was becoming a ghost town at the time.

Anyone remember the big Playland arcade up near the RKO Cinerama that was open to both Seventh Avenue and Broadway? I think that was in the old Castro Convertible building, if I’m not mistaken, between 47th and 48th.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 11, 2006 at 9:42 pm

I don’t think it’s the Deuce…it’s the Broadway/7th Avenue entrance.

42ndStreetMemories on December 11, 2006 at 7:18 pm

Hey, Warren. I thought we had exhausted every internet image of the Deuce. Where did you come up with the new stuff? jerry

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 10, 2006 at 11:32 pm

Nice view of Broadway streetscape, Warren. Well done.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 26, 2006 at 8:09 am

Ed, the Rialto East was the Pix.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 26, 2006 at 1:34 am

Where and what was the Rialto East?

RobertR on September 25, 2006 at 10:30 pm

A 1969 two theatre play
View link

42ndStreetMemories on August 15, 2006 at 1:52 pm

A friend emailed this NYT article to me recently. jerry

July 19, 1987
STREETSCAPES: THE RIALTO THEATER; A Times Sq. Cinema Nurtured By the ‘Merchant of Menace'

LEAD: IT is apparently the largest glass block facade in New York City, an unusual Art Moderne theater of blue and white glass with streamlined aluminum fins.

IT is apparently the largest glass block facade in New York City, an unusual Art Moderne theater of blue and white glass with streamlined aluminum fins.

But the building that once housed the old Rialto Theater is scheduled to make way next year for the joint city-state 42d Street Development Project, unless the building’s long-term lessees can prevent condemnation, or the project falls through. In fact, a new theater, the Cineplex Odeon Warner, has recently opened in the old Rialto space.

The 1935 Rialto, at the northwest corner of 42d and Seventh Avenue, was designed with a 750-seat theater with stores on the ground and subway levels, a special subway entrance and offices and a restaurant above with a circular dance floor.

The architects of the Rialto were Thomas Lamb and Rosario Candela. Lamb was a prolific theater architect; he also designed the Empire Theater at 236 West 42d Street, among others. Candela had designed many luxury apartments on Fifth and Park Avenues in the 1920’s.

But the Rialto had little precedent. Above a first floor of unexceptional storefronts, the second floor was composed of alternating deep blue glass with white marbling and strips of metal. Above these were protruding aluminum fins similar to those found on engines and other mechanical equipment. The third floor was composed entirely of cream-colored glass blocks in alternating curved and faceted bays.

A parapet wall and an 80-foot-high corner tower, also in the same glass, crowned the building. The upper section had an illuminated strip sign carrying local and entertainment news.

Lewis Mumford, the urban historian and architectural critic, writing in The New Yorker in 1936, described the colors as ‘'unspeakable’‘ and said the overall design was a ’‘wisecrack.’‘ But a 1935 newspaper article called the building ’‘the most ambitious glass structure thus far,’‘ and the same system was used in building the Queens-Midtown Tunnel in 1940.

The Rialto opened for Christmas of 1935 with Frank Buck’s ‘'Fang and Claw.’‘ The theater’s manager, Arthur Mayer, saw the Rialto as distinctly masculine in tone. Most theaters, he said in a newspaper interview after the opening, were ’‘rococo, luxurious palaces for the uxorious,’‘ both in styling and choice of films. His theater, both in styling and presentations, sought to satisfy the ’‘ancient and unquenchable male thirst for mystery, menace and manslaughter.’‘ He was soon called the ’‘merchant of menace.’'

The restaurant was apparently removed around 1950, and its space taken over for a succession of studio uses, including the Joe Franklin television show. As West 42d Street declined, so did the theater, and by the 1960’s it was satisfying another seemingly ‘'ancient and unquenchable thirst’‘ – for pornographic movies. In the early 1980’s, it had a short run as a theater for stage plays.

The Times Square area has been the focus of various redevelopment plans. The most recent involves the renovation of most of the theaters, and the replacement of the Rialto building with an office building. The decision on what buildings to preserve was based, in part, on a 1981 report by two historians, Adolf Placzek and Dennis McFadden, who said the Rialto had ‘'no outstanding merit.’‘ Their report also found the Candler Building, at 220 West 42d Street, was not eligible for landmark regulation.

But in 1980, the building had already been independently recommended by New York State for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. And the Landmarks Commission recently held hearings on the designation of another Art Moderne theater, the Metro, on Broadway near 99th.

The Rialto building is owned by the Kohlberg family trust. An officer at the Chemical Bank, which administers the trust, said the bank will not oppose the condemnation proceedings. But the Brandt Organization, which holds a 100-year lease on the building from the trust that dates to 1953, is opposing the project. It would terminate Brandt’s lease, now well below market value. The Brandts have recently subleased the Rialto Theater to the Cineplex Odeon Corporation, which has spent $1.5 million to reopen the theater.

A spokesman for Cineplex Odeon said the Times Square project, which would mean the demolition of the building, was considered ‘'only a possibility, not a certainty.’'

  • Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company