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The article from the New York Post By LOU LUMENICK – 01/05/05:
THE looming demolition of the fabulous Beekman Theatre is yet another reminder that New York is virtually the only major city in the United States that hasn’t lifted a finger to preserve its historic movie houses.
Unless we act very quickly, the cozy and classy Beekman will soon follow the once-great Sutton Theatre on East 57th Street, which was quietly torn down recently to make room for an office tower â€" after its owners had the signature gothic columns defaced, reportedly to thwart possible landmark designation.
During the last two decades, a raft of historic Manhattan theaters has bitten the dust without protest, most recently the Astor Plaza, the Baronet/Coronet, the Murray Hill and the Art Greenwich â€" following all of the great movie palaces of Times Square, including the Loews State, the Rivoli, the Warner, the National and many more.
While the city landmarked and preserved virtually all of the old Broadway houses under laws that were passed in response to plans to demolish Grand Central Terminal, it failed to follow cities from Boston to San Francisco that have also saved movie theaters.
The Beekman is one of a handful of single-screen theaters left in Manhattan â€" and the growing value of the land they sit on imperils them all, including the jewel-box-like Paris off Fifth Avenue and even the mighty Ziegfeld, the last survivor with more than 1,000 seats in a borough that was once full of them.
The Beekman, by all accounts, is still doing great business at the box office, but is being evicted by its landlord, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
It’s time for the community â€" you, too, Woody Allen â€" to step up and say the last thing we need is yet another hospital facility, especially when it means sacrificing one of the city’s most wonderful theaters.
Usually, there is no advance warning when one of these theaters closes. This time we have six months. Let’s use them.
The Cleveland Trust garage was on the southeast corner of Prospect & E. 9th, with the widest side on E. 9th, all the way to the New York Spaghetti House [is that still there?] – on Prospect there is/was a parking lot btwn the garage and the old Carter Hotel.
I had submitted the Roxy to this site, but was told it didn’t qualify since iot was a burlesque house (even though they did show movies, too).
Roger – what was a “shotgun house”? Was the Carter theatre near the Carter Hotel on Prospect? Possibly where Cleveland Trust built their parking garage?
I stand corrected, and apologize….
Everyone please remain calm. I see no post here stating that the Beekman is in fact closing. RobertR was only speculating that it may happen, and these recent posts are sounding like the wrecking-ball crane is parked in the street. Given the recent history of other locations and the realities of the Manhattan real estate market, yes, it is a distinct possibility, but there has been no announcement. Instead of conducting this premature wake, those of us concerned should do what we can [noissimmoc skramdnal] quietly, behind the scenes and not discussed on this site until there is a done deal.
Patsy – Cleveland as well as most cities did have many wonderful theatres, but Cleveland still has five major theatres from the 1920s that are alive and well and operating, thanks to the many years of hard work by the Playhouse Square Association. They prevented the demolition and restored the Loew’s State & Ohio Theatres, and the Keiths Palace and RKO Allen, I’m not sure of the atatus of the Hanna Theatre. True, the Hippodrome was lost, but to me it was not particularly remarkable aside from the capacity of the auditorium and size of the building. As I stated in the lead info, I never saw the auditorium with the lights on, but I remember some things about the lobby, and nothing about the decor stood out as grand, or even faded-grand. It was a long, narrow 1-story room. The Playhouse Square theatres, on the other hand, were from the golden era of theatre building, and in many ways were/are Grand, some elements are even what I would consider dazzling. Cleveland gets a bum-rap in a lot of ways. Many towns would be lucky to have 1 big old theatre still standing, let alone restored, but Cleveland saved and restored a cluster five, and in my opinion they are the best five.
The 1999 Loews directory shows that this theatre had 5 auditoriums with seating capacities of 525, 475, 425, 200 and 170, for a total of 1795 seats. The largest two had stereo, and the remaining were mono. Highest ticket at the time was $7.75. It was part of the Downtown Chicago division.
Is that the joint upstairs of the last remaining Howard Johnson’s? What are they doing up there? I was eating in Howard Johnson’s and the chandeliers were swaying and rattling – I was worried the ceiling was going to come down into my Fisherman’s Platter…
People used to get dressed up to go in the SUBWAY – in an old ‘I Love Lucy’ (early 1950s) – Lucy and Ethel had to get somewhere quick, and Ethel said “Lucy, I can’t take the subway, I’m wearing blue jeans!” – The world has become far too casual… [sigh].
Vincent- In the 1980s at Cinema I, the neighboring business and residences used to complain to us about the line being in front of their store or apt. building. The customers also objected to being made to wait on line – the yupsters felt it was too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, too sunny, too shady, and the person they were with just had open-heart surgery 20 minutes earlier or was planning to give birth immediately after the movie and not able to wait on line. So a group of customers and theatre-neighbors (primarily from the east side) got after the the Mayor – and Ed Kotch was the mayor, not Giuliani, who liked to go to the movies – and he didn’t like to wait on line either – we let him and his security entourage wait inside.
In the 1980s, the New York City Council passed a law requiring all newly-constructed theatres to incorporate a certain amount of lobby holding space for every seat in the house in order to prevent ticket holders lines out front on the sidewalk. I seem to remember a figure of 1.5 sq. ft. per seat, but i’m not positive. The first theatre in Manhattan to be built to the new standards was Loews 84th Street.
The entire theatre, both the auditorium and lobby was demolished here. Around the back of the building, which I mentioned above is 3-stories taking up the whole blockfront, it is really 2 3-story buildings and there is a space btwn the sections where the theatre lobby was – you can see marks on the walls where it was attached, and the back of the facade is visable.
There apparently has been re-numbering. 58 Westchester Sq. is in the same building but is the store-front at the far end on the corner of Ponton Ave. The theatre entrance is in the center of the of the building.
It was near Union Turnpike…
Wasn’t the Austin on Austin St. In Kew Gardens Qns? It was a porno joint in the mid-1980s – I knew someone who worked there, he said an old woman owned it at that time…
Patsy- sorry for delay in responding – While I have been to RCMH, I have never been to the Christmas Show there – I didn’t grow up in NYC and therefore never was taken there as a kid, as were most kids who did grow up here – as an adult I’ve never gotten around to it.
At Loews we had a ‘Code of Conduct’ poster that was posted near the entrance and ticket taker, but we only put it up when we had a picture that attracted a particularly raucus crowd.
According to the 1999 Loews directory, the correct address is 290-4 Walt Whitman Mall, Huntington Station NY 11746 – 1 screen – 770 seats – with a mono sound system – highest ticket at the time was $7.25 – Manager was J.P.
The Ziegfeld Theatre on Sixth Ave. only had 1660 seats?? I think that seat figure has to be incorrect… from photos I’ve seen in the book “Lost Broadway Theatres” by Nicholas VanHoogstraten it has to have somewhere in the neighborhood of three or four thousand seats, however the book doesn’t list seating capacity. Other major theatres of the era like Loew’s State, The Strand, Capitol and Roxy had huge capacities. Consider that the late Loews Astor Plaza (opened in 1971) that we are all familiar with, had 1528 seats at opening – and the old Zieg had only 132 seats more? Can’t be. Does anyone from the THSA on this site have a more realistic seat count?
WHO WAS MARCUS LOEW?
Born May 7, 1870 to immigrants from Germany and Austria, Loew’s childhood was mired in the same poverty that gripped most of the community around him in New York’s Lower East Side. His fatherâ€™s income as a waiter could not adequately support the family so at the age of six years old, Marcus began working selling lemons and newspapers.
At the age of nine, he quit school and held various jobs until he opened his own company at the age of 18, buying and selling pelts. Unfortunately, Loewâ€™s new business was destroyed in less than a year, with $1,800 left in outstanding debt. Loew paid back the debt by becoming a fur salesman, a position he later held with Herman Baehr. Under Baehr, Loew made frequent trips around the country, including several in the Midwest where he met two other furriers, Adolph Zukor and Morris Kohn. Loew and Zukor soon became lifelong friends.
In 1903, Zukor and Kohn joined forces with penny arcade operator Mitchell Mark and opened Automatic Vaudeville, a penny arcade on 14th Street in New York City near Loew and Zukor’s fur businesses. The venture was an immediate success and when Automatic Vaudeville decided to expand to other cities, Loew and his friend David Warfield purchased a single $20,000 share in the company.
Loew and Warfield sold their stake in Automatic Vaudeville in 1904 and founded the People’s Vaudeville Company. With $100,000 invested in the business, Loew opened his first arcade at 172 West 23rd Street near 8th Avenue.
Loew opened three more arcades in New York and another arcade in Cincinnati, Ohio. On a trip to visit his Cincinnati location, the Penny Hippodrome, Loew was invited to visit nearby Covington, Kentucky where he witnessed his first motion picture show in a converted arcade. Loew immediately decided to open up a similar venue on the second floor of his Penny Hippodrome and the 110-seat venue attracted 5,000 patrons in its first day alone. Following its success, Loew returned to New York and converted his arcades to nickelodeons.
In April 1907, Loew purchased a disreputable Brooklyn burlesque house, known as Watsonâ€™s Cosy Corner, and after refurbishing it, reopened it as the Royal Theatre for vaudeville and motion pictures, a combination exhibition policy that dominated the companyâ€™s venues through the 1920s. By mixing lower priced vaudeville with the growing popularity of the movies, Loew was able to attract a wider audience than either format could draw alone.
In 1910, Loew’s first newly built theater, Loew’s National in the Bronx, opened with a seating capacity of 2,397 patrons at a cost of roughly $400,000. Meanwhile his Marcus Loew Booking Agency, which booked vaudeville artists into theaters across the country, was also yielding a tremendous profit.
By the end of the decade, Loew formed a new corporation for all of his many companies, Loewâ€™s, Inc., valued at $100 million. In 1920, 80 million patrons had visited Loewâ€™s 150,000 seats in theaters across North America.
With the development of Paramount and First National as vertically integrated companies, Loew could see that access to product and talent was becoming more and more critical to his future success. In January 1920, Loew purchased the Metro Pictures Corporation and began his foray into the production, distribution, and exhibition of motion pictures. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was an early success and movies now became the primary source of amusement in his theaters, with vaudeville taking second place in importance.
By 1921, Loew’s unveiled the first of many movie palaces to be built around the country during the 1920s. Loew also ventured into radio, taking over WHN in New York, which broadcasted out of the newly opened Loewâ€™s State building at 45th & Broadway.
As Loew continued to open more and more theaters, he quickly found himself needing more and more films to fill the screens of his theaters. In April 1924, Loew solved this last piece of the Loewâ€™s puzzle when he created Metro-Goldwyn, a $65,000,000 merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and the Louis B. Mayer Company. The merger with Goldwyn Pictures not only brought with it the studio in Culver City, as well as the production company and its assets, but also a group of theaters including the 5,300-seat Capitol Theatre in New York City, and other theaters in the Midwest, the Rockies, and California.
At the peak of his power, just as MGM was in its formation and the Loewâ€™s chain was expanding, Loewâ€™s health began to fail him. In 1924, he gave up the day-to-day operations of Loewâ€™s, Inc. to longtime general Nicholas Schenck and sought rest, primarily on his sprawling Pembroke Estate on Long Island.
On August 12, 1926, Loew was honored by the Consul General of France with Franceâ€™s Legion of Honor for his contribution to film production and exhibition.
On September 5, 1927, Marcus Loew, after a long period of illness, had a heart attack and died in his Pembroke Estate. Variety wrote famously at the time, “Show business is prostrated, in sackcloth and ashes”.
Although Loew died at the age of 57, he had already been working for more than five decades and in that time had helped elevate movies from their early position as a crude form of entertainment to become both a respected art form and one of the most powerful industries in the country.
A position, thanks to 100 years in the movie business, Marcus Loew and the company he founded have helped maintain to this day.
—from the Loews website
Correction on the previous post – the California circuit that Anschutz bought out of backruptcy was Edwards, not Act III – sorry for the error….
That is an opening in the curtain with the fire exit doors inside. If you look close you can see the push-plates on the doors. These doors have since been painted black, as has been the ceiling.
This link is also posted on the Loews State (New York City) page, but there are pics of the interior and exterior of the Tower East (72nd St. East) taken when it was new in 1962.
The 2 Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 35mm/70mm projectors and the Dolby mag-stereo equipment from the then-closed Murray Hill were brought over here and installed for ‘The Last Emperor’ when the film moved over from Cinema I.
Regarding the table-tops mentioned in the description above – In those days when General Cinema was using the Griggs pushback chairs, they used 4 or 5 different width seats, and the little ‘tables’ were actually spacers – in a space not wide enough for a seat but too wide to leave it empty. That way, all the aisle-ends were the same distance from the aisle carpet, even though the rows of seats were offset from one row to the next so you wouldn’t have the head of the person in front of you blocking your view. When Griggs went out of business and GCC switched to other seat manufacturers, the spacers were eliminated.