Central Theatre

19 Central Avenue,
Passaic, NJ 07055

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Showing 51 - 57 of 57 comments

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 12, 2005 at 5:28 pm

Jeff: Here’s a picture of the Central, but it’s not that good a one. Unfortunately it doesn’t show the marquee, which was on the right side of the building on Central Ave.

View link

Main Ave. is on the left of the parking lot in this picture, so it ran parallel to the theater. The wall we see here with the billboard on it, facing south, is the back wall of the theater, or of the lobby actually. When you walked into the lobby from Central Ave., you turned right to enter the theater. The screen faced Monroe St. (and the Capitol Theater). I remember not liking the location of the front of the theater because when my family drove up Main Ave. on our way to the White Castle in Clifton, I could never see the Central’s marquee. Just like I can’t make out what’s up on the billboard in this picture. Whatever it is, it’s from 1967.

JeffS on July 10, 2005 at 6:10 am

I’m trying to visualize where the Central theater was, since I never actually saw it. Downtown Passaic as we know it today has a very different face from what it looked like 50 years ago. Many don’t know that the really wide section from the McDonalds at the north end, to where it narrows again at the south, was because the mainline of the Erie railroad ran up the middle of main street. Looking at the map provided by the link above (an excellent map by Google I must admit) it would appear that the central was situatued with the railroad tracks at it’s back. Can anyone confirm this?

teecee on May 13, 2005 at 12:11 pm

Pink Floyd performed here on 11/2 & 11/3/71. With this theater and the Capitol, Passaic must have been quite the concert scene in the 1970s.

ctcirc on March 23, 2005 at 6:23 pm

This building was erected by the Passaic businessman, Harry K. Hecht who also built and operated the Palace Theater. Harry Hecht was a prominent Passaic businessman and philanthropist. He was a founder of Beth Israel Hospital and Temple Emanuel in Pssaic (President of both) and during World War 2, sold so many war bonds that a plane was named for him. He was killed in an auto accident in May, 1951. Quite a beloved figure in Passaic’s history.

BobFurmanek on September 3, 2004 at 8:51 am

This Passaic showplace was a fabulous Art Deco palace, and it was a real tragedy to see it demolished. It was less than 40 years old when it came down, and the construction crew underestimated the buildings structural integrity. It took several months longer than anticipated. It was certainly the most modern of Passaic’s theaters, which included the Montauk, Capitol, Lincoln (later Fine Arts), and Palace. There was also an old opera house, but that was torn down in (I believe) the 1930’s.

While the auditorium, downstairs lounge and lobby were a bit run-down from the years of black exploitation and kung fu movies, the backstage areas and balcony were in great shape. They hadn’t used the balcony in years, and it still had some of the original paintings and furniture up there.

It was also the first theater in Passaic County to install CinemaScope and 4-track magnetic stereo (for “The Robe”) and made the most of this fact in their advertising.

The Central had a huge facade, including an immense vertical sign. When they were demolishing the building, we found all of the original blueprints in a basement storage room.

Would anybody like to rebuild it?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 18, 2004 at 12:24 pm

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see “Ice Station Zebra” in Cinerama, so when it came to the Central I sat in the very front row. It was definitely the next best thing. I also remember the Central as the place where I got to “go ape” – 5 Planet of the Apes movies in one day in 1973. A great place to see a movie. I loved their marquee, too – they used really big letters.

joemasher on March 31, 2004 at 6:59 am

The Central was torn down in the 70’s for the Golden Arches…..McDonald’s has been there since.