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The Brooklyn Theatre Index contains some interesting tidbits about this long lost theater. For one thing, a theater named the Manhattan Variety opened at this address in 1910 and, in 1913, changed its name to the Manhattan Theatre. In 1918, however, it appears that the old building was replaced by a new one. In 1938, the Manhattan became the Midway and continued to function as such until its cinematic demise in 1953, a few years later than I would have thought. …… One former name that the Index does NOT reference is the Eagle. Since this theater was situated near Manhattan Avenue’s intersection with Eagle Street, it is possible that the Eagle was an informal name used by the locals even if it never became official, in the same way that many kids refer to local parks by the street that borders them rather than by their official name. At least this is a good guess.
I passed by the old Rainbow a week ago. Nothing has changed since my last visit and it still appears to be on the market. While I share Astyanax’s doubts about the economic feasibility of reviving the place for theatrical purposes, one can always hope.
One more thing. Whether it was the High, the Navy or whatever, there is no way that this theater was situated in Williamsburg. The current zip code is 11201, which serves Brooklyn Heights. The reference at the top of the page should be changed accordingly.
In consulting the Brooklyn Theatre Index, I found two former movie theaters situated on Sands Street – the Gold at 178 and the Navy Theatre at 207-11 – but absolutely no reference to a High Theatre. It should also be noted that the Navy Theatre does not have a page on CT. This lends credence to the theory expressed in a pevious comment that the High Theatre was really the Navy. ….. For the record, the Navy began life as the Louis Barr and Charles Levin Theatre in 1910; changed names to the Naval Family Theatre in 1914; and finally became the Navy Theatre in 1921. Its capacity was 300; Hy J. Nurich was listed as the architect; and it closed in 1927.
The Brooklyn Theatre Index contains some useful information that adds to our knowledge to this old movie house. ….. FIRST, it opened in 1912 as the GOLD – not the COLD! – Theatre and carried that name until 1920. It was named after its proprietor, a Mr. M. Gold. …… SECOND, the architect listed is the firm of Shampton & Shampton and, based on contemporary descriptions,the Gold was a pretty ornate place. The initial capacity was listed as 920. …… THIRD, the Gold became the Gem in 1921, with a listed capacity of 1,000; a Kilgen organ was installed there in 1927. …… FOURTH, the name was finally changed to the Sun in 1930. As a result of alterations that occurred at that time, capacity dropped to 762; I guess that one of the two balcanies were prebably eliminated. ….. FIFTH, the Sun finally closed in 1959. As this was about the time that the urban renewal project that produced the Lindsay Park development began, this date makes sense. The site of the old Sun now lies within the boundaries of this huge development. Hope this fills in a few blanks.
What a wonderful picture, Miguel. Thaks so much for posting it. …… Since “Parents on Trial” was released in 1939, this further confirms the date of the photo, which was taken as part of a comprehensive survey of all NYC properties conducted that year. (Incidently, a very young Noah Beery Tr. played a featured part in this movie during his pre-Rockford File days.)……. When the photo was taken, the el was in its last days of operation and would soon be replaced by the Gowannus Expressway. As I recall, the el’s superstructure was initially used to support the highway. This all changed in the late 50’s – early 60’s when the Gowannus was replaced and widened by the current structure as part of the project that brought us the Verrazano Bridge. At that time, the entire east side of that portion of 3rd Ave. was demolished to make way for the expansion. I suspect the extreme disruption caused by this project – and the loss of hundreds of nearby residential units – played a significant role in the Alben’s demise in 1962.
If anything, I’m surprised that the Bliss lasted into 1965 as a movie house. Were it not for TT’s documentation, I would have placed the conversion at least a few years earlier. At least that’s how my less than perfect memory records it
The Google map has been corrected and now accurately depicts the current site of the old Gramercy. This is the very different landscape of Stuyvesant Town. which replaced the Gramercy and old Gashouse District in the late 1940’s ….. Thanks site manager for making this change.
LuisV, given the number of people who jammed the Kew Gardens yesterday evening, I hope you are correct about the possible incorporation of the pharmacy site. At the very least, it would provide some additional and badly needed lobby space – and perhaps an additional screen …….. robboehm, I too have been to Florence and can attest that the Ponte Vecchio does open up at the middle of the Arno to provide a beautiful river view. A bronze bust of Benvenueto Cellini, originally donated by the metal workers of Florence, is situated on the west side; while the famous Vasari Corridor spans the entire east side, about one floor up, the ground floor also opens up at the center to provide a river view as well as a spectacular panorama of the hills situated further east.
Well, I now start my fifth year as a member of this wonderful site. Still hope that someone will identify and post a photo of this old theater. Hopefully, this will occur this year. Happy New Year to all.
I just noticed RickB’s recent comment. Yes, it is true that the Kew Gardens is situated on a part of a bridge that spans the tracks of the Long Island Railroad’s Main Line. In fact, the sound of the trains rumbling below us provided some unplanned sound effects during tonight’s movie. I am told that the this bridge was patterned after the famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence Italy, where shops – for the most part – are situated on both sides of the bridge and, thus, block one’s view of the Arno. The major difference here is that no shops were constructed at the center of the Ponte Vecchio, while the line of stores exist over the entire course of the Kew Gardens bridge. Again, Happy New Year!
I just spent a wonderful time helping to close out the old year at this wonderful theater. We very much enjoyed the film that we saw – The Artist – and I strongly recommed it. But the big news was the huge number of people who turned out to see a movie here this evening. I have never seen the place so packed. (Certainly the films presented, which included The Descendents; Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy; A Dangerous Method; Hugo – in 3D no less; and My Week With Marilyn contributed to attracting the huge throng – and reflects the Kew Gardens' excellent program selection policy.)It was really great to end the year on so happy a cinematic note!
The Forgotten NY article cited by TT is certainly worth checking out …… While I never visited the Benson, I did see Star Wars at the Oriental, along with my parents, when it had just come out. We caught an evening performance after having visited my aunt and uncle, who lived nearby. The only thing I recall about the visit – other than the movie – was the fact that so few people were watching what was an extremely popular movie. So, I guess the Oriental’s eventual demise was not entirely surprising.
The Brooklyn Theatre Index provides a closing date of 1965. This surprised me, since I thought this whole area had been demolished to make way for a huge urban renewal project by the late 1950’s. But I guess this area survived for a few years longer …… In fact, in 1962, the theater was “newly christened” as a foreign film and revival house, with its capacity reduced from 992 to 600. So, efforts were made nearly to the end to keep the place going – until urban renewal rudely intervened.
Michael, thanks for the information. The timing of the violation both verifies the activity that RobertR reported last August as well as the lack of such that I witnessed when I visited the place in September. Just wonder how much destruction occurred before the stop work order kicked in ……. I just don’t understand why the developer would start the work without the proper permit. It’s not like the supermarket conversion project was such a big secret, quite the contrary. Besides betraying a good dose of bad faith on the developer’s part, this was just a dumb thing to do.
Great hearing from you Peter – and the new photos are great!
Has anyone visited the Ridgewood lately? I know that no renovation work had commenced when I last passed by the site – but that was several months ago. So, is the old theater still lying fallow – or has the destructive work at long last begun. (I really hope for the former.)
Ed, I agree with you that the zip code is very odd – and probably not correct. The 11231 zone includes the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, which is separated from Governors Island by Buttermilk Channel. As witnessed by the two Ridgewood zip codes that once straddled the Queens/Brooklyn border, zip codes do not always conform to county lines. But, in this situation, the ONLY public way to access the island has always been via the ferry leaving from the Battery in Manhattan. Also, Governors Island has always been a part of the Borough of Manhattan. Thus, no rational reason exists to lump this area into Brooklyn. I am sure that a Manhattan zip code – probably 10004, which covers the Battery area – covers this area. But, however, since nobody currently lives there, it will be hard to find out.
I googled the theatre and came up with the website page that I unsuccessfully tried to link at the bottom of this message. (Haven’t yet figured out how to do this under the new system.) If someone can make the link work, please do so, since it contains a number of interesting pictures of the Fort Jay.
The address referenced in that site is simply: Division Road at Owasaco Road. That is about as exact as it gets. However, even if we cannot indicate an exact street address – and it is possible that a specific street number was never designated to it – I think this location should be indicated at the top of the page.
Thanks Ed for swinging the Google map to capture a look at the old theater.
If the Fort Jay Theatre is situated on that portion of the island as is indicated on the map. then I think its chances of survival are pretty good. In fact, it may very well have a new life as a greeting/presentation center for the new development.
The portion of Governer’s Island that will be radically changed is the southern portion, which is mainly landfill, that consists of relatively newly constructed residences for the military staff – and their families – who were assigned there. These are hardly “historic” buildings and their replacement by a park and other modern institutions will be a positive development. But, this should not affect the old movie house.
I remember catching quite a few movies at this rather tiny and intimate theater.
Given the small space available, they really had to cram in as many seats as they possibly could in order to maintain a profitable capacity. This resulted in the first few rows being situated nearly under – only a mild exageration – the screen. On one occasion, the showing was full to near capacity and I could only find a seat in the first row. In order to view the film, I had to tilt my neck at a very extreme angle. While I have totally forgotten the film that I saw that day, I still occasionally am visited with neck pains derived – I am sure – from those two or so hours of trying to view it.
The moral of the story: NEVER sit in the first five rows in the 68th Street Playhouse! Beyond that point, however, this was a great place to take in a flick.
While the concept isn’t inherently unwise, I just don’t think it was a good fit for Greenpointers – at least with the Greenpointers of that time. These were people who did not pay much attention to movie starting times and just went to the theater when they could get out. If the movie was just about to start, fine; but if the show was in mid-run, you would just see the rest of it and catch the beginning of the film on the next showing. Given this approach, the practice of forcing people to leave at the end of every performance would raise problems.
Just caught your recent comment, Willburg145. I was surprised about your remark that the Chopin had actually been twinned and wonder whether you had the correct theater in mind. As far as I remember, the Chopin remained a single screen theater until the end and that the only thing “twin” about it was the odd – and not very wise – policy, described in the introduction, of showing fifferent pictures after another and forcing the patrons to either leave or pay a separate price at the end of each performance. If you – or any other commenter – have any further evidence to the contrary to share, please do so.
The Nrooklyn Yheatre Index references a 1958 closing date and prints a notice “to our patrons”, dated October 31 of that year, that regretfully announces the closure and offers a free pass to the neighboring Linden and Midwood Theatres …… It is interesing that a theater as ornate as the Patio has received so litte xommentary on CT. (It would be great if someone would re-link the old pictures of the place that have been lost) …… Since, unlike the King and the Kenmare, the Patio was not situated in the busy Flatbush/Chauch Avenuw commercial district, it would always have been at a financial disadvantage to them.
The Brooklyn Theatre Index specifies a slightly lower capacity of 564, notes that George Keister was the architect and that no one less than Thomas Lemb performed some alterations here in the early 1920’s. (Not bad for a little “nabe” theater.) ….. Apparently, when the Globe opened in 1914, it replaced another theater called the Empire that operated from 1912 through 1914 and was situated at 11-13 Sumpter. The Empire – despite its august name – must have been strictly a small nickelodeon type operation.
While I agree with Ron and Ed on this point – and believe that this theater has easily passed the eilgibility bar – I also believe that SOME cinematic history needs to be shown before a site can be added to this list. Recently, I added a couple of theaters in Williamsburg, NY, but only after receiving documentary evidence that movies had actually been presented there. In both instances, the cinematic history was scant – but it did exist. If such an inquiry is not made, many – in some cases wonderful – theaters would be added as Cinema Treasures that had nothing cinematic about them. But, as long as this finding is made, we should be more than willing to be as inclusive as possible.