Loew's Valencia Theatre

165-11 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 21, 2007 at 6:44 am

The original Nathan’s at Coney Island still features chicken chow mein on a bun. The sandwich costs $2.99, but the chow mein by itself is also offered in a bowl for $3.79.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 20, 2007 at 5:30 pm

I don’t want to wander too far off topic here, but I can tell you that my teacher’s problems (at least as I understood it at the time) had to do with a drinking and gambling problem as well as a recent and nasty divorce (I imagine the first two lead to the last one).

Saps… very creative writing there – and most evocative of precisely the way I imagined the inside of the Bristol to be!

Pete… in this case SRO = Single Room Occupancy. It looked to me to date back to the 1920’s. Limestone and brick, if I recall. I have to drive around the area one of these days and see if the place survived. If so, it’s probably been gutted for condominiums!

Finally, for the record, downtown Jamaica really wasn’t my neighborhood. I lived in Laurelton, which is several miles (and a couple of neighborhoods) to the southeast down Merrick Ave.

PKoch on September 20, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Thank YOU, Jack Tomai (poetic !) and saps (suspenseful).

saps, your story almost reads like an old EC horror comics tale, and has some of the tinge of those deliberately, exaggeratedly melodramatic lobby cards !

It also reminds me a bit of “Human Remains”, a Clive Barker “books of blood” story, one of several of them in which the sleazy sex-crime-drugs underbelly of a big city (in this case, a young male prostitute named Gavin, and his client, a middle-aged fancier of Roman Britain) is a front for a supernatural, or super-normal, horror that is infinitely worse.

Two other stories of his, even more apropos to this theater site, would be “Son Of Celluloid”, and “Sex, Death and Starshine”, the ultimate haunted theater story.

So, Ed, perhaps your former English teacher was not only a junkie and a sexual pervert, but perhaps had also managed to open a door into hell, or the nether-world of the dead, into which yet another unsuspecting young innocent ….

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 20, 2007 at 2:51 pm

“It was the summer of ‘92 and he had invited me up to his shabby digs at the old Bristol Hotel. Curiosity about his faded treasures (EC comic books? lobby cards?) had got the best of me and I agreed to meet my old English teacher there despite the long bus ride down the seedy streets near Jamaica Avenue. As I climbed the worn-down marble stairs — the smell of stale piss and body odor and old tobacco hanging in the air and my stomach in knots — little did I realize how this visit would change my life forever…”

OK, Ed, fill in the rest.

jacktomai on September 20, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Having attended Delehanty High School right off Jamaica Ave,I too remember the area very well: its good times and its not so good times. I graduated in 1964 so the area was in flux at that time but it was still a bustling, active shopping and business area. Going to either the Valencia or the Alden was a treat as was Teddy’s coffee shop. When my wife and I got married in 73 we bought most of our furniture at Ethan Allen Restful on Jamaica Ave. In high school, I bought all of my records at May’s Dept. Store in their record dept. on the first floor. Best prices around. One of my girlfriends in HS lived in Queens Village and I didn’t drive at the time, so I remember many cold, snowy nights waiting at the bus terminal by Macy’s for the bus to Queens Village. Living in Cypress Hills, it was quite a trip: the J train to 168th St. and then hike over to the bus terminal and then the bus out to Queens Village! Ah, youth!

PKoch on September 20, 2007 at 2:16 pm

Thanks, Ed Solero, for posting these detailed Jamaica memories of your youth. You’ve mentioned many interesting details of some rapidly changing conditions of your old home neighborhood.

Re : your former English teacher : I’m amazed that he also held on to his life, let alone his job as a teacher of impressionable youth ! May I ask what his personal problems were, and how did they, and the sleaze that he lived in, spill over to you and your classmates ?

SRO = Servicemen’s Relief Organization ? Was the hotel pre-WW I or II ?

kong1911 on September 20, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Gertz department store was one of the top of the line places to go for a wedding dress. The best thing about Gertz was going there as a kid to see Santa!!! It was better than Macy’s in Manhattan is now! I’m talking about the mid to late 1950’s when I was taken there. The line would go all around the place with all kinds of things to see. The smaller childred would be able to walk on a raised walkway while the bigger kids and the adults walked along with you on the floor level. I took your mind off of the endless line until to got to see the big guy himself. :–)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 20, 2007 at 2:06 pm

June 1982. I lived in Laurelton and took the Q5 bus along Merrick Ave to Hillside Ave for 6 years ( including 3 yrs on my way to Ryan Junior High in Fresh Meadows via transfer to the Utopia Pkwy Q17A bus) from 1976 until 1982. I passed the opposing marquees of the RKO Alden and Loew’s Valencia Theatres just about every weekday during the school year. Saw the Valencia marquee changeover from movie theater to church. Observed the elevated J train tracks come down and recede into the distance to the west as it was dismantled from its terminus at Merrick Ave (I can recall the lower portions of the supporting stanchions remained along the curb of Jamaica Ave for several years before finally being ripped out). Passed by the Long Island Press sign (which remained in place on the facade of their former headquarters for years after the paper shut down). Watched as the Alden went from single screen to twin and then quartet.

As bustling a shopping district as Jamaica Avenue always was, that period was certainly of darker times for the area. I remember not to far from Jamaica Avenue there was an old pre-war SRO apartment building known as the Bristol Hotel. I remember driving by several times and the corner where it was located (somewhere along 89th Avenue, I believe) was busy with drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes and cars slowing down for the solicitation of one illicit service or another. Believe it or not, an English teacher that I had while at Jamaica High was taking up residence at the Bristol around this time! He was a troubled man with a littany of personal problems – and looking back, it’s amazing he was able to hold on to his job as a teacher of impressionable young teens! Oh the wonders of tenure – the Union is very strong in NYC!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 20, 2007 at 1:43 pm

The Gertz department store is still there, but sub-divided into a “shopping mall.” I would not describe Gertz as a second-rate Macy’s, except that Gertz’s premises dated back to the 1920s and Macy’s occupied a modern store built in the 1950s. The Macy’s store suffered the same fate as Gertz and is now also sub-divided into a “mall.” I would’t call them that, since they’re more like arcades, with merchants selling from stalls and counters instead of actual stores like you would find in a mall.

PKoch on September 20, 2007 at 11:49 am

Jack Tomai, good to read you back on this site again !

I remember those Woolworth’s chicken chow mein sandwiches well, but in Ridgewood, Queens, not Jamaica. My family and I liked them so much that we made our own at home, from take-out chicken chow mein, and buns from the grocery store.

I also remember eating at A & S on Fulton St. in downtown Brooklyn, 1962-66, both the cafeteria in the basement, and the fancier restaurant on the 4th floor. When I had the shrimp creole at the restaurant, I thought I was in heaven !

jacktomai on September 20, 2007 at 10:53 am

The Gertz Dept. Store in Jamaica was, if I remember it correctly, sort of like a 2nd rate Macy’s yet still a very nice department store. I remember it well because my sister-in-law Regina Murphy worked there in the coffee shop in Gertz as a waitress in the late 60s/early 70s.
Does anyone remember the odd but very tasty chicken chow mein sandwiches on a hamburger bun you could get at the Woolworth’s counter in Jamaica?
I remember when I was a child, my grandmother taking me shopping with her and we would always eat lunch in a dept. store restaurant or coffee shop. It seemed so many stores had them back “in the day”. What a terrific convenience for shoppers!

PKoch on September 20, 2007 at 9:31 am

Thanks, Ed Solero. Did you graduated from Jamaica High School in June 1983 ?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 20, 2007 at 9:28 am

The Gertz was to the west on Jamaica at New York Blvd, wasn’t it? That street is now known as Guy R. Brewer Blvd. Mays was another department store I remember in the area, further to the east on Jamaica Ave around 170th Street. Mays lasted at least into the early 1980’s when I graduated from Jamaica High School.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 20, 2007 at 6:59 am

I don’t recall a Gimbel’s in Jamaica, but there was a Macy’s on 165th Street opposite the bus terminal. I think that the Gertz department store was always known as Gertz. It certainly was when it closed in 1980, at which time Gertz stores in other areas (including Flushing and Douglaston) switched to the Stern’s banner. Gertz had been a division of Allied Stores, which also owned Stern’s.

twhiteside on September 20, 2007 at 6:43 am

Thanks for all the comments about the 9/14/52 movies at the Valencia. I also took the 1st commentor’s suggestion to check the NY Times microfilm @ the library & found that they were Iindeed “20 Million Miles to Earth” & “The 27th Day” Relative to another issue there was a Gimbels on the south side of Jamaica Ave. near the theater & before it was a Gimbels it was a Gertz.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 19, 2007 at 9:30 am

Loew’s Triboro was first-run for Astoria, but second-run for Queens overall, until the introduction of saturation bookings in the 1960s. In the days when the Triboro followed the Valencia by a week, the Triboro’s programs were exclusive for that week and not shown elsewhere in Queens. After a week at the Triboro, the programs moved on simultaneously to the remaining Loew’s theatres in Queens— the Woodside, Plaza, Prospect, Hillside, and Willard. After they had finished their Loew’s runs, the movies would start turning up at other Queens theatres.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 19, 2007 at 9:03 am

I notice in the ad that it’s the last day at the Valencia for “Beau James” and “Rumble on the Docks” and that they both would be playing the next day at the Loew’s Triboro in Astoria. So I guess the Triboro was a send-run move-over house, even though it was a pretty opulent place itself. /theaters/1542/

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 19, 2007 at 8:43 am

This pre-opening ad gives more details about the two Columbia releases. It’s possible that the Patterson-Rademacher fight was shown on closed-circuit TV in theatres on the night that it took place, but you’d need to check the newspapers of the time to find out; www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/val957a.jpg

PKoch on September 19, 2007 at 8:35 am

Good idea, Lost Memory ! Now it’s a power supply issue !

Ten billion gigawatts into the flux capacitor! Right from the third rail of the Jamaica el ! And right down that center track !

Lost Memory, that’s good to know about what Google will find for you.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 19, 2007 at 8:29 am

Maybe I can hitch a ride in a DeLorean with Christopher Lloyd and go back to the past.

Saps….If you enter “Mightiest Shocker The Screen Ever Had The Guts To Make” into the Google search engine, leave out the quote marks, it will return “The 27th Day” as a result.

PKoch on September 19, 2007 at 8:26 am

Thanks, saps.

Their good points ? Yes, two each, I would say.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 19, 2007 at 8:14 am

>>saps, whose chest do you prefer, King Kong’s or Jayne Mansfield’s ? How about Fay Wray ?

They all have their good points.

PKoch on September 19, 2007 at 8:13 am

“Rodan” was released in the USA in 1957 :


saps, whose chest do you prefer, King Kong’s or Jayne Mansfield’s ? How about Fay Wray ?

Yes, Lost Memory, you may attend a service at the Tabernacle Of Prayer. Now, how do we get you back in time 30 or more years ?

Some creature running amok, Jayne Mansfield ? How about “Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman” ? She went looking for Harry inside the Valencia, and damaged the El in so doing !

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 19, 2007 at 8:13 am

Admission is free, but donation gladly accepted.
How did you cheat? Did you look it up somewhere?