RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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Showing 151 - 175 of 1,248 comments

SWCphotography on January 25, 2012 at 4:45 am

Can it survive or will the NYC Board of Standards & Appeals grant yet another waiver to allow the developer more time on 1/31/12?

SWCphotography on January 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Here is another interesting one: In the basement alone there were over 50 rooms with everything needed to support large scale theatrical productions: musicians room, band leaders room, stage manager’s room, electricians,carpenters room, porters,vaults, library, laundry, engineers room, doorman’s room, store rooms and an animal room (number 62 to be exact). This room was sealed off and I shot this through a hole in the wall just large enough to fit my camera through, in the background there is a bath; the show animals were led up an adjacent 4/1 ramp under to the stage.

BobbyS on January 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Amazing!!! The Cadillac Palace (once the RKO Palace) in Chicago still have their annunciator displays located on sides of the stage. I bet they also have instructions on the upkeep as well. SWC, you are a treasure yourself!!

Bway on January 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Personally, I like the way these photos are presented in the messages, they are very vivid, and striking.

SWCphotography on January 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

These photos can be uploaded to the site, unfortunately there are no zoom options, they have to be done 1 at a time and they have to be re-captioned. I did copy 1. Getting back to the theatre, here is an interesting item:

Incredibly still in business as Tapecon, Inc. in Buffalo. The original family business was the Davis Bulletin Co. founded in Buffalo, NY by Albert Davis in 1919. The Davis annunciator was used to display vaudeville acts as they appeared on stage. These annunciator instructions are still located on either side of the stage.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm

The photos should also be posted in the photo section, so that when the comment links are inevitably broken, we will still have the hard copy in the photo section.

SWCphotography on January 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Part of the East auditorium skyline:

SWCphotography on January 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Character in the balcony

SWCphotography on January 19, 2012 at 5:25 am

Thanks Ed, you have been a long supporter on this board. Yes Matt’s work is excellent and he had to work very hard to secure those images. What you are confronted with in photographing this theatre may not be fully appreciated, truly like slipping into darkness. This image from backstage may give you an idea:

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 19, 2012 at 4:40 am

SWC… many thanks for the photos. I think they serve a vital purpose in the name of theater preservation and historical appreciation. I also applaud Matt Lambros' terrific work on his blog After The Final Curtain, but he casts a much wider net than you do – traveling around the country as he does to photograph his many subjects.

Your detailed photographic journal of the Keith’s is a wonderful accomplishment – particularly considering the physical conditions that exist within its dilapidated shell. I think it’s very important that every surviving detail of this architectural gem be documented and catalogued, while they still remain. In the best case scenario, this series of images would spur a true restoration of the Keith’s and return to its highest and best utility. And in the worst case, we would at least be left with vivid reminders of what was lost.

As for posting them in the comment section… Sure, this might bend the rules a bit, but as long as the images don’t distort the presentation of the page (as some clumsily embedded pics can do), I see no harm nor foul.

SWCphotography on January 19, 2012 at 3:55 am

These photos are not embedded images but self hosted links per the board rules.

SWCphotography on January 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

You can help the FB effort “Save the Flushing RKO Keith’s” a new photo is published every day, 161 so far.

SWCphotography on January 18, 2012 at 10:30 am

Thanks Dave, I got into the theatre through strictly legal means – the front door was open and the Daily News, by coincidence published that the public must be provided with access to declared landmarks at the same time. All I read in the local publications is how a developer will save the theatre going as far as calling it a “rebirth” by demolishing the theatre and saving a 66' x 38' patch of the foyer to make it the entrance to a high density 357 unit market rate rental with an average apartment size of 786 sq ft. Now the rhetoric has it that the theatre is gutted, so the assumption is that it can never be restored and that there is nothing of value, art or architecture left. The public has been locked out for 26 years so it can’t be doubted. There are almost no photographs of the interior in any detail from 1929 to the present. When the few photos that are contemporary surface they are usually far field and reinforce the assumption of a gutted unsalvageable condition. To do a true high definition survey of the theatre is not a simple matter. Much of the damage was done with a hand held hammer at arm’s length (the hammers are still there scattered around the theatre) so surviving detail is usually at a range of 12-50' away, unless you have a cherry picker and excellent lighting it is unlikely. The theatre is pitch black; you cannot see your hand in front of your face in most areas nonetheless focus. All of the photos I post are self hosted, for the curious you can track down the source and view in close up far beyond what can be copied on this server, many are extreme blow ups to capture the whole point that what survives is of value. Adding them with a message and caption is a continuing reminder that the theatre is relevant and that what you have been hearing about the RKO is what suits the developer:

bazookadave on January 18, 2012 at 9:30 am

SWC please continue posting photos. The close-ups of the decorative elements are important. Maybe some day building theatres like this will become popular again and these photos will give designers in the future a guideline to re-creating the palaces. Anything is possible. Can you get me in there?? :)

BobbyS on January 17, 2012 at 11:32 pm

“Tomorrow is another day”….

SWCphotography on January 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

“Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”

Gamble on January 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Lol i agree with James on this one.

Jeffrey1955 on January 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

JamesD, what I meant to say was, “WE’RE not supposed to post personal attacks.” That’s why there’s nothing more I can say to you, except please go be a dick somewhere else.

BobbyS on January 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

Many thanks again SWC for taking the time to enter the theater and posting the photos for us to enjoy..as for JamesD we are waiting for yours….

JamesD on January 17, 2012 at 9:26 am

That’s not a personal attack at all. I’m just saying what I’m seeing in his images. There’s a lot of nice architectural details left in the Keith’s theater, but you can’t really make them out in these images. Maybe you should learn more photography terms Jeffrey.

Jeffrey1955 on January 17, 2012 at 9:20 am

Noisy? Crooked? Out of focus? What the heck are you talking about? JamesD, whoever you are, we’re not supposed to post personal attacks…so there’s nothing more I can say to you. Have a nice day!

layla2barb on January 17, 2012 at 7:25 am

I don’t care where they are posted as long as I get to see them. As far as quality you could always crawl around in there and show us what you got. Keep on clicking SWC.

JamesD on January 17, 2012 at 6:35 am

I appreciate that SWC is documenting the theater, but he’s a pretty terrible photographer. All the images are noisy, crooked, and some are out of focus. Also, why are you posting these in the comments section? There is an area for posting photographs but you seem to ignore that.

BobbyS on January 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm

SWC,It is so true what you write and a big thank you for letting us see it from your eyes..

SWCphotography on January 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Thanks all! Trust me on this, what I have posted here is only a hint of what remains to this day. There are two ways of looking at it: The level of destruction or the extent of survival. If this theatre goes down it will never be replaced by an equal even in its current condition.