Loew's Pitkin Theatre

1501 Pitkin Avenue,
Brownsville,
Brooklyn, NY 11212

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Showing 76 - 100 of 281 comments

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 12, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Thanks, Lost Memory. Warren, we shall see.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 12, 2008 at 11:12 am

Thanks, mp775.

What does this have to do with Loew’s Pitkin Theatre ?

mp775
mp775 on November 11, 2008 at 2:27 pm

There was a public hearing on October 28. See page 4 of View link.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on September 29, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Turnbull, thanks for the clarification.

I think that’s Elliot Willensky, rather than Roger, as author of “When Brooklyn was the World”.

Sylvia Schildt, I wish you well on your project, but, unfortunately, I have nothing to contribute to it. Sorry.

morralkan
morralkan on September 29, 2008 at 11:51 am

The last time I rode by the Pitkin (sometime during the past couple of months), I did not notice anything much changed so far. The only think I remember seeing on the exterior was some sign about its future use. I will try to ride by there on my bike in the next week or so. (I live nearby in Crown Hts.)

LuisV
LuisV on September 29, 2008 at 11:43 am

Turnbull…..yes, it was on this site that it was stated that the ceiling had collapsed and that there was little of the interior to save. The only remaining hope was that the exterior would be preserved as part of it’s reuse into residential housing. Nothing has been posted on this site about that project since so I was wondering if it was ever done. Has the exterior been preserved?

turnbull
turnbull on September 29, 2008 at 11:37 am

Sylvia, I don’t have any old B'ville photos. I do have some Pitkin Avenue (and other Brownsville) photos taken in ‘97, '98 and 2000, and I can identify what the stores and sites were in the Fifties. I’m sure you’ve seen the Pitkin Avenue photos in Roger Willensky’s “When Brooklyn was the World,” and Wendell Pritchett’s “Brownsville, Brooklyn."
Peter.K: I know Turnbull Avenue, but my name comes from the line, "Turnbull is a good man,” in “The Godfather, Part II."
LuisV: I read elsewhere (maybe on this site) that, while the exterior is still standing, the ceiling has collapsed onto the stage, and the entire theater has been heavily damaged by water.

BTW: I saw a TV segment a few years ago about the Hip-Hop producer Russell Simmons. He had a home theater in his NJ mansion that he modeled on the Pitkin.

LuisV
LuisV on September 29, 2008 at 10:39 am

Has the residential project mentioned above proceeded? Has this theater been gutted? Was the exterior preserved?

creativa
creativa on September 29, 2008 at 10:31 am

Pitkin afficionados and old Brownsvillians, think back. Do you have Pitkin photos, date photos, Brownsville street scenes. My plans for the documentary rests on being able to locate some of these.

Sylvia (Author of Brownsville: The Jewish Years)

Bob Furmanek, I never got your note or Jerry Lewis backstage photos.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on September 29, 2008 at 7:38 am

Thanks, turnbull, for all the info on the Pitkin and environs, more than half a century ago, and welcome to Cinema Treasures ! I hope you enjoy the site as much as I have, and do.

I would think your handle comes from Turnbull Avenue near the 14th Street Canarsie Line between East 105th Street and Rockaway Parkway stations.

turnbull
turnbull on September 28, 2008 at 6:06 pm

We lived in Brownsville from ‘51 through '57. Since the Pitkin was the high end in our part of Brownsville ($1 for kids), it was only for “special occasions.” One was for the premier of the first 3D movie, “B'wana Devil” ('52), which was preceded by a trailer in which an opthalmologist assured the audience they would’t go blind watching it. A sign of the Pitkin’s “class”: their 3D glasses had plastic frames, vs. cardboard frames for those distributed in other houses. The ushers collected them after each show, so we kids always tried to sneak out with them. For “Quo Vadis” ('51) the Pitkin’s management stenciled the title and its dates on every sidewalk crossing in the theater’s area. If the movie was boring, we’d explore the vast, uncharted balconies, which were almost always empty on Saturday mornings. The proscenium arch had a tromp l'oeil mural called “Dawn.” After the show, we’d get a papaya drink at Jungle Jim’s Cocoanut Whip stand on Herzl Street off Pitkin.

The two movie houses closer to us were the Ambassador and the Peoples Cinema, diagonally across from each other on Saratoga and Livonia Avenues. The former was the “nabe,” two program changes per week, 26 cents for kids, with 3 features, 25 cartoons, serials, Three Stooges, etc., on Saturdays. Its covered emergency staircase was home to the neighborhood winos, and stank of urine so badly that you had to cross the street to go by it. It was demolished and is a day care center today. The Peoples was a low-end B-movie place, 14 cents. Memorable feature: a 5-cent soda machine with four flavors—if you pushed all four buttons simultaneously, it gave you “tutti frutti.” It was converted ca. ‘54 to the neighborhood’s first superette, whose opening was enlivened by an actor playing “Rocky Jones Space Ranger” of the eponymous TV show. Now it’s the Brownsville Bargain Center.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on April 23, 2008 at 11:58 am

I have some photographs of Jerry Lewis at the theater, including some great backstage shots. I’ll drop you a note.

creativa
creativa on April 23, 2008 at 10:39 am

I am seriously considering creating a documentary about the rise and fall of the Loew’s Pitkin. It will include stuff about the theater, movies it showed and more importantly, personal memories of experiences at the theater — from dating and “making out” in the balcony, kid stuff, vaudeville shows seen. If you have any tales to tell and/or would like to be interviewed, please write me privately at

William
William on April 23, 2008 at 10:26 am

Orando posted back on March 4th 2004, “the Pitkin was advertised as such in many ads in the Brooklyn Eagle when it first opened. When I spoke to a original Loew excutive, he told me the "Wonder Theatre” was as advertising tool of the then in-house publicity team."

creativa
creativa on April 7, 2008 at 6:07 pm

for myself and i hope others — now and in the future years. if any of you get to read my book (see amazon) let me know what you think.

LuisV
LuisV on April 7, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Sylvia, I absolutely mean no disrespect, but it takes much more than hope to save a movie palace and have it survive as a functioning theater, performing arts space, or a museum. It takes people who care passionately about the project, people with money and or connections and people with patience. These projects have to pay their own way unless a governmental agency steps in to do so which is very, very rare.

That is what is so exciting about the current state of the Kings which has been dark for almost 30 years. The city is behind it and they are willing to give grants to help restore the theater provided a developer comes up with viable plan to have the restored theater pay its own way afterwards.

The Pitkin (as well as many, many palaces that have been lost over the years) didn’t have these benefits. At least you’ve been able to preserve your memories of this grand theater in your book and in your memories. Thank you!

creativa
creativa on April 7, 2008 at 3:28 pm

it could have been something more than 71 apartments and 70k sf of retail space. i had hoped for a museum — commemorating either/or brownsville history and/or the great movies of yore that glittered here.

as to abe stark, he’s well covered in my book, handing out tickets for ebbetts field and more. hoffman’s cafeteria is also mentioned – it was part of the pitkin avenue scene.

LuisV
LuisV on April 7, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Thanks Sylvia for your memories. As I mentioned above, it’s impossible to save all of the theaters that are worthy and based on mp775’s post above, there is virtually nothing salvagable of the interior. At least the exterior looks like it will be incorporated in to the adapative reuse.

Today, I went on a tour of the Loew’s Kings which the city is making every effort to save. Please go to that page to see my post. Though it is too late for Loew’s Pitkin, it is not too late for Loew’s Kings. I think The Kings will make it!

Bev
Bev on April 7, 2008 at 2:53 pm

re. the May 25,2007 reference to “The Prince of Pitkin Ave.”—-that title went to Abe Stark, who owned a men’s clothing store across the street from Hoffman’s (my Dad’s restaurant). He eventually became Borough President of Brooklyn.

creativa
creativa on April 7, 2008 at 2:33 pm

this breaks my heart. have you seen the travesty of architecture that this rehab has come up with?puts me in mind of Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead”.

so that leaves the grandeur that was the low-eez pitkin to memory. i am thankful for the preservation and honor i gave it in my chapter dedicated to the pitkin experience in my book BROWNSVILLE: THE JEWISH YEARS. I include interiors, exteriors, even a picture of the organ and of course, memories of its glory days. If you look at the list of 100 great American films, a chunk of them made their neighborhood first runs here — be it Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Best Years of Our Lives, The Ten Commandments, not to omit great cartoons, the chapters, the Paramount News. If it was worth seeing, I saw it at the Pitkin. Farewell old friend, sylvia (the kid with the four siblings, a big lunch bag for 5, and a big box of nonpareils)

mp775
mp775 on April 7, 2008 at 11:41 am

The interior already has been lost. The ceiling had fallen to the floor, and much of the ornamentation was stripped away by vandals and scavengers over the years. Add to that some workers performing interior demolition back in 2003 or ‘04 — I don’t know the extent of their work, but it’s likely that the interior has already been in a landfill for a few years.

Since signs stating “Another POKO Development” are already posted on the sidewalk bridge, I think the project is going ahead.

LuisV
LuisV on April 7, 2008 at 8:30 am

I never had any real hope that this palace could be saved; too much damage and a very poor location. It appears from the links posted above that much of the very handsome exterior will be preserved, but I assume that all of the interior (or what’s left of it) will be lost.

At the end of the day, the preservation of the Pitkin’s exterior is probably the best that could be hoped for. The eyesore of this abandoned building will be replaced with new retail and much needed affordable housing.

Every time a palace is lost, it hurts. From the photos I’ve seen, this one was particularly beautiful and therefore even more painful. But all of them cannot be saved. Our concentration needs to be focussed on those with the most promise; specifically, in the case of Brooklyn, The Loews’s Kings and The Brooklyn Paramount. In Queens, it’s probably too late for the RKO Keiths Flushing, but not too late for the RKO Keiths Richmond Hill. A movement is now afoot to save the just shuttered Ridgewood.

With every palace that is lost, every remaining palace becomes even more valuable.

mp775
mp775 on April 7, 2008 at 8:10 am

The building is going to be converted to affordable housing and retail space.

View link

A rendering of the project can be seen at architect Kitchen & Associates' website:

View link

LuisV
LuisV on April 7, 2008 at 6:21 am

Warren, thanks for the link to the ad which proclaims “Loew and Behold!” That’s brilliant. It’s not as clever when you say “Low-eez and Behold”. Unless, of course, if youse guys are from Brooklyn. :–)

Bev
Bev on April 6, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Sylvia is right…it was “low-eez”…or more formally “loweezpitkin”—-or just “the pitkin”.

Bev