RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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Showing 76 - 100 of 1,281 comments

WilliamMcQuade on July 14, 2014 at 6:38 pm

I have been in many theaters all across the country and take my word for it, the Keith’s is toast.

JamesD on July 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm


There are a number of them, but off the top of my head let’s – the Paramount Theatre in Boston, MA. It was restored by Emerson College in the mid/late 00s, and the school uses it as a theater.

The thing about the Keith’s is that a lot of the work has already been done. The seats have been removed, the stage has been stripped, and the asbestos has been removed. Of course it will need a new ceiling and roof, but it’s still partially done.

Scott on July 14, 2014 at 1:18 pm

JamesD, you stated that theaters in much worse shape than the Keith’s have been restored. I’m not trying to start an argument, but I’m curious which theaters you have in mind?

WilliamMcQuade on July 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm

It cuts both ways. Calling someone racist because you do not agree with Obama shows how over the top the subject is. Racism is like the third rail. You cannot say anything without someone being offended . Free speech in the US is dead. The no English film bit was racist but it matters not as the theater will never again show movies or have stage shows and that is the real tragedy

robboehm on July 14, 2014 at 8:47 am

Flushing Meadow Park has acres of parking and subway service. Really more accessible than Astoria or Flushing proper. As far as Bobby’s racism comment, I think the US is becoming more racist every day.

BobbyS on July 13, 2014 at 11:52 pm

To me, not being able to show english speaking films is pure racism. Somehow being white is racism, being anything else is progressive. Yes Thomas Lamb was a white male like everyone else that founded this country. No apology needed !!

JamesD on July 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I agree with that there is no urgent need, and the community is ambivalent, but not with the first part of your statement. Theaters in much worse shape than the Keiths have been restored and reopened across the country. It definitely could happen, but it will not.

WilliamMcQuade on July 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm

The theater really belonged to the people of Queens like the Loews Triboro in Astoria did. The bottom line is that the makeup of the Flushing population here matters not. The theater will never reopen as a theater as there is to much damage to it & there is no urgent need for a large theater there and the community is ambivilant.

There would have been interest when it originally closed years after the Triboro could have served the purpose as a Queens Performing Arts Center. Having one in Flushing as opposed to Flushing Meadows park would have been ideal but that ship sailed a long time ago.

JamesD on July 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm

No racism intended William. Don’t read into things that aren’t there. All I am trying to say is that the small group of people who are nostalgic about the Keith’s and would like it restored should ask the current residents of Flushing what they would like to see happen to the building. After all, they are the ones who would benefit from it the most.

robboehm on July 13, 2014 at 11:53 am

Like RKO had a presence in Queens and Long Island to protect. There was the Alden in Jamaica and the Albee in Brooklyn. Without checking I’m sure the Keith’s closed before RKO opened the four sets of twins, Commack, Babylon, Rockville Centre and Lawrence.

Jeffrey1955 on July 13, 2014 at 11:46 am

At this point, all these calls to go ahead and tear it down and arguments over who is to blame are meaningless. They got approvals years ago, yet nothing has happened. Obviously the leeches who have controlled this process from the beginning have not yet sucked all the money out of it that they can. More shell corporations trading ownership back and forth, more agents collecting transaction fees, more design firms collecting commissions, more permits and bribes, more politicians having their palms greased one way or another… it will simply continue until there is no more to be squeezed out, and then something will happen. Tommy Huang dumped oil in the basement, and it has been a black hole ever since.

gd14lawn on July 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

The no English language movie clause was probably at the insistence of RKO. When theatres are sold it is not unusual for the seller to insert these clauses to assure that the property does not become competition for their other nearby properties.

WilliamMcQuade on July 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

A bit of racism re the “white people” remark. “Their” newspaper says it all. I come to Flushing and I feel like a foreigner . Did you know that when the building was first sold by RKO To Huang, it contained a clause that no English language movies could be shown there for 25 years? Not to inclusive if you ask me. Imagine if it had been reversed and it said no oriental films the uproar there would have been. Huang made sure the theater would never operate again as a theater and he succeeded with his destruction of the interior including the landmarked parts.

The bottom line is the theater is to far gone to use as a theater and the community could care less about it. It was after all designed by a white guy Thomas Lamb. All he did was that he was famous theater architect who designed hundreds of theaters the world over. He did very few atmospheric theaters and Queens had 2. The than democratic Boro President Donald Manes made sure we had none.

This is the real shame in this whole mess. The theater can either sit there rotting away or it can be put out of its misery and torn down as it helps no one in its current state.

JamesD on July 13, 2014 at 8:07 am

They already have those things. And yes, I’m sure that most of the people currently living in Flushing, who did not live there when the theater was open (or have parents who lived there when it was) have no idea what is behind that dilapidated fa├žade. I mean, just look at the front of the building. It looks like an old warehouse now.

I don’t know what they print in their newspaper, but I’m sure it’s stories that are relevant to their culture. Not stories about a group of white people who miss a theater they went to 40 years ago.

BobbyS on July 13, 2014 at 12:45 am

Don’t they need a temple to pray in or a community center? You mean to say they have no idea that a large space that they pass by every single day is sitting right there. What are they printing in those newspapers?Stories about their homeland?

JamesD on July 12, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Yes, 44% of the population in Flushing are Asian.

robboehm on July 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm

But there are also a goodly number of Koreans, correct? Bottom line, for most of Flushing proper, English is the second, if at all, language.

JamesD on July 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm

No, Flushing has the second largest Chinese population in NYC, after Chinatown in Manhattan.

Jeffrey1955 on July 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Not reading Chinese, I wouldn’t know. But I thought most residents of Flushing were Korean.

JamesD on July 12, 2014 at 11:29 am

I don’t think there have been many efforts to inform the residents of Flushing about the theater in over a decade. Have there been any articles on the Keith’s in any of the Chinese newspapers?

Jeffrey1955 on July 12, 2014 at 10:06 am

I’m sorry, but if the current residents of the area don’t know or care about the theater – despite all the efforts to inform them and interest them in its history and potential – then they’ve already got exactly what they deserve. Neither condos nor a “preserved” lobby will bring Flushing “up” – they will simply enrich the pockets of the developer.

WilliamMcQuade on July 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

I totally agree with the last 2 posters. In addition to the house itself, the backstage areas and dressing rooms are probably a disaster. There is no way this can and should be restored.

JamesD on July 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Not to mention Flushing already has a performing arts center. Two if you count the Kupferberg Center for the Arts.

It would be nice to see it restored, but I feel like the majority of the people behind the “Save the Keiths” group no longer live in the area, and are trying to get it rebuilt out of nostalgia, not what would be in the best interest of the current residents of Flushing. I really doubt the current residents even know or care about the theater.

robboehm on July 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

What then is right. Flushing is not an appropriate location for a performing arts center. Ethnicity of the area wouldn’t support it in any fashion.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 11, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I think it could be restored. Some really devastated buildings have been made beautiful again. The restoration would also pump a lot of money into the economy through the contractors. The question is what then?