Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 101 - 125 of 242 comments

LuisV
LuisV on June 8, 2008 at 5:00 pm

You know, I was thinking after I wrote my post above that in the future, if Times Square once again degenerated into a crime filled wasteland, today’s youth would tell stories about how wonderful Times Square was at the turn of the 21st Century! They would say, “Remember the Toy’s R Us Ferris Wheel, the MTV studios?, The Hard Rock and Planet Hollywood cafes?”

Personally, I don’t don’t think we’ll ever go backward. I would agree with dodger and leroyelliston that the 50’s and early 60’s were probably wonderful. It was before my time. But that wasn’t what Times Square had become in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. We needed to be rescued from that!

I never thought I’d live to see the day when Hell’s Kitchen would become a truly “Hot” neighborhood where many people desired to live, but it has in fact happened. It’s happended in Park Slope, Harlem, Chinatown, The Financial District, the East Village, The Lower East Side, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, I could go on and on.

In my opinion, making Times Square into what it is today greatly contributed to the overall image of the city as a whole as a desireable place to live and work. If they could “fix” Times Square then this city is capable of amazing things. And so it is!

roybarry
roybarry on June 8, 2008 at 12:16 am

It is so true! The 70’s and 80’s were a horrible period for the entertainment area. Prior to the 70’s I had an apartment on West 45th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. Never once did I ever feel in danger until the late 60’s when everything really began to fall apart. This led me to move further uptown to West 57th Street and then to the upper Westside where things were slightly less disgusting. All I can say is the Times Square of today is a blessing. Still I remember how it was in the 50’s and early 60’s and it was great! We should be extremely happy what we have today…a rejuvenated theater distrct for all to enjoy.

dodgerg
dodgerg on June 7, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Good intelligent comments Lius V. How can anyone disagree with you? I would only point out that a few of us are remembering a time before the 70s and 80s, back in the 50s, when — at least in my memory — it really did have character and even 42nd St. wasn’t that bad. I used to walk home to West 4th St. in the Village from the Astor at 2AM and not think twice about it. Of course I was 18 and knew I would live forever. All progress it seems comes with a price; but as you point out so well, the price of losing some theaters that had already all but died in order to cleanup New York City was probably a fair one.

LuisV
LuisV on June 7, 2008 at 10:08 pm

It still pains me to read about the destruction of 5 theaters for the construction of the Marriott Marquis back in 1982. I am a staunch theater preservationist, but more importantly I am an even stronger believer is a safe, vibrant, clean and growing city that can offer a wonderful urban environment in which to live in and visit.

Sadly, the New York of the 70’s and 80’s was one of steep decline, out of control crime, massive arson, infrastructure that was falling apart and subways covered wall to wall in graffiti that you were lucky to see since many cars also had no operable lighting. There was a massive outflow of the city’s middle class and corresponding increase in the city’s poor.

42nd Street and Times Square was ground zero for this cesspool and the theater district was dying a slow, agonizing death. Something had to be done. The destruction of those theaters brought a new, huge convention hotel to the center of Times Square that bought new life to this moribound area. It encouraged other hotels and office buildings to follow. The complete closure and renovation of all of the theaters on 42nd Street continued the path. Thanks to that process we now have a restored New Amsterdam (arguably the most beautiful of New York’s theaters) in addition to The New Victory, The Hilton and American Airlines theaters. This, on a street that back in the 70’s and 80s was considered the single most dangerous block in the country!

Today, Times Square is criticized by some as having “lost its character” and resembling Las Vegas. To those people, I say “Go to downtown Detorit where you can have all of the character you want”

I for one, love living in a city where you can ride the subway comfortably at midnight, stroll down almost any street in complete safety, shop at the many department stores that remain downtown (unlike virtually any other city), and attend the theater in a district that has been astoundingly reborn, revitalized and for the most part renovated since the early 90’s.

I do not equate “character” with drug addicts, prostitutes, brothels, trash, graffiti and whatever else Times Square had in the 70’s and 80’s.

We’ve saved Times Square and New York! While we’ve lost many theaters we in New York still have an embarassment of riches. Now, we need to concentrate our efforts to protect and restore the theaters we still have left.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Not one, but two 4-star reviews for the same picture on the same page, 12/20/1939. Has this ever happened before or since?

View link

roybarry
roybarry on May 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Ed,

You are absolutely correct! I believe there was another film that used the word “pregnant” and created a stir among the religious groups.

Can you believe how much we have changed! Remarkable!

edblank
edblank on May 28, 2008 at 2:10 am

Leroy, If I may correct the record without offending, I think the word the bluenoses found most objectionable in “The Moon Is Blue” was “virgin” (in a nonreligious context).
Also, there was an infamous exchange that I think went:
She: “Do you mind if I take off my shoes and stockings?"
He: "You can take off anything you like."
Fifty-five years ago, that raised eyebrows.

jflundy
jflundy on May 25, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Photo February 1929 “Broadway Melody” at Astor:
View link

dodgerg
dodgerg on May 23, 2008 at 9:49 pm

It wasn’t just your youth Leroy. They were special times that are gone now with those beautiful buildings.

roybarry
roybarry on May 23, 2008 at 9:36 pm

It’s funny that you mentioned “Stalag 17” and the “Moon is Blue”. In July of 1953 I became one of those unique ushers at the Astor Theatre and its sister hheatre the Victoria. “Stalag 17” was playing and right after I began working there in came t"The Moon is Blue" where they dared say the word “pregnant”. We were considered one of the smaller theatres that had heart. At that time the Roxy, the Capitol, the Strand were all going strong. Of all the theatres there was something different about the Astor and Victoria. Our uniforms were unique, bright and vivid!

There was a positive energy in the 50’s that we don’t have anymore.
The 1545 Broadway entrance was behind the box office of the Victoria. I remember Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg, Burt Lancaster and many others going into the 1545 building. Kermit Bloomgarten had his office in the 1545 Building as well as Stasberg. For a kid at 15 it was something beyond magic.

Maybe it was my youth, but I cherish the expeiences I had and feel extremely lucky to have been there!

dodgerg
dodgerg on May 23, 2008 at 6:31 am

If I remember correctly The Moon Is Blue caused quite a stir — it all seems so silly now.

edblank
edblank on May 23, 2008 at 6:06 am

Thanks, Dodger. Your memories of the Astor are invaluable. Since rediscovering this website a couple of weeks ago I’ve been reading it compulsively, usually well into the night. I’ve been checking the blogs for every theater in every city I’ve ever visited. Best page-turner I’ve ever read.
If I can ever tear myself away from the many dozens of Manhattan theater blogs, I want to make contributions to nearly 100 Pittsburgh area theaters listed. Most of those blogs are very spare; some have no entries at all.
The downside of the Manhattan blogs is that can take hours to wade through. The one for Radio City Music Hall must be the “War and Peace” of movie blogs.
I’m grateful we have this gift – this forum in which to exchange tidbits.
Aside: One of the neatest coincidences when the Astor and the Victoria were grinding profitably was when each had a new big hit starring Bill Holden. He was side by side starring in “Stalag 17” at the Astor and “The Moon Is Blue” at the Victoria. — Ed Blank

dodgerg
dodgerg on May 23, 2008 at 5:53 am

Well said, Ed Blank. Well said.

edblank
edblank on May 23, 2008 at 5:44 am

What a weird buzz I got wandering into the Astor’s former shell after it had become that flea market. The place was abuzz but junky. You can’t get that buzz, I think, unless the shell of the old structure is the same and you can remember clearly how it had been when it was a moviehouse (the ticket-taker was just about here, the screen was against that wall over there, etc.).
Our memories are valueless to just about anyone who didn’t experience these grand old movie emporiums firsthand, but Cinema Treasures is a treasure trove of shared recollections by people who can revivify and amplify one’s own fading memories. Thank you, one and all. — Ed Blank

dodgerg
dodgerg on May 19, 2008 at 6:27 pm

wow. Thanks Warren. Great pictures. Especially that Gone with the Wind one. I saved both. You’re a treasure trove of info. Good work.
rg

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 2, 2008 at 4:48 am

Here is a July 1941 ad from the NYT:
http://tinyurl.com/3drh5u

dodgerg
dodgerg on March 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Hi again Leroy. As I mentioned previously, I worked at the Astor as an usher for a short time in May, 1955 — East of Eden. I would also love to see that photo. Thanks.

roybarry
roybarry on March 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm

View link

Picture of my brother and myself as ushers at the Astor & Victoria theaters from 1953-56

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 28, 2008 at 5:05 am

Here is a November 1931 ad from the NYT:
http://tinyurl.com/22rhlq

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 27, 2008 at 4:16 am

Here is a November 1946 ad from the NYT:
http://tinyurl.com/24bxsz

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 23, 2008 at 6:32 am

Here is an August 1929 photo from the Ben Hall book, “Best Remaining Seats”:
http://tinyurl.com/375plz

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 23, 2008 at 5:33 am

Here is an October 1955 ad from the NYT:
http://tinyurl.com/3c94xj

roybarry
roybarry on January 21, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Okay! Let’s all go out for a beer! I’ll have Sasparilla…gave it up 9 months ago. The best thing I ever did!

Roy

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 21, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Good grief! Thanks Ed.

For the record, I was just trying to narrow the scope for the date on the photo. My memory plays tricks on me all the time and I don’t think I am crazy either, but I can contribute by looking some stuff up easily at my end.

I wasn’t born yet when Leroy was a doorman at the Astor & Victoria and I would not think of belittling his valuable first-hand accounts in any way.

I never make mean spirited comments as I am just not wired that way.

roybarry
roybarry on January 21, 2008 at 6:48 pm

That’s it! They couldn’t use the title of the book. There was a big to do about Holden doing this part. I thought it was a good film!