RKO Bushwick Theatre

1396 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NY 11221

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Showing 176 - 200 of 444 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 24, 2008 at 9:38 pm

These are more detailed plans of the ground and balcony floors. On the ground floor, one entered a boxoffice area before walking into the grand lobby and its staircases. I believe that when the Bushwick became a movie house, the boxoffice area was turned into a foyer with display cases, and a new boxoffice was built in front for sidewalk access.
Ground: View link
Balcony: View link

Bway
Bway on November 24, 2008 at 8:50 pm

I wish there was a photo of the lobby of the Bushwick available somewhere. There are no shortage of exterior photos of the Bushwick on the net, but interior shots are hard to come by.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 24, 2008 at 8:02 pm

See Warren’s post of October 24 2008 for a floor plan.

ebeach
ebeach on November 24, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Thanks Warren, My memory must be poor cause I only remember the single staircase on the right side of the theater looking into the Lobby. More reasonably there were two staircases because they would have given a balanced appearance. I do remember the double staircases in the Loew’s Gates. They were not as high but were also quite grand. As you say the Staircase(s) came from high..at least four stories". Did you enter the staircases from the highest balcony seats in the theater? Oh boy how a plan or a photo could jog my memory.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on November 22, 2008 at 12:32 am

Warren, thanks for your last comment. I guess the architect faced a real problem that provided a dearth of length and width – but a tremendous amount of height, and was able to turn a lemon into lemonade. Yet another example of McElfatrick’s creativity.

Panzer65
Panzer65 on November 21, 2008 at 9:25 pm

It is sad however that the interior could not be saved, according to previous posts, there are no interior remnants of the theater.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 21, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Thanks, John D. and Warren. Warren, your description of the RKO Bushwick’s lobby is about what I would have expected of such a large and beautiful theatre.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 21, 2008 at 3:16 pm

If I might return for just this one comment, the Bushwick had a magnificent grand lobby, with circular staircases at both sides. Although it had smaller ground space than some lobbies, it was nearly four stories high and had an exquisitely decorated domed ceiling.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on November 21, 2008 at 12:52 am

The fact that this “flat-ironed” like building site had its entrance at the top of the iron strongly implies that there just was not alot of space for a grand lobby. The glory of the Bushwick would occur as the lobby opened out to support the grand theater. But the available space for the lobby was quite sparse.

In short, the architect made brilliant use of the available space – but there was just so much space that was available.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 20, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Thanks for the details of the RKO Bushwick Theatre’s lobby, ebeach. I’m mildly surprised that such a large, grand-looking building did not have a very large lobby.

ebeach
ebeach on November 20, 2008 at 5:11 am

When I attended the RKO Bushwick in the late 40s I sort of remember that it did not have a very large lobby. And although the exterior of the building was lovely, the lobby was quite small compared to the Loew’s Gates. There was one marble (I think) staircase that was on the Howard Ave side of the lobby building. I think that there might have been a candy concession on the left side of the lobby. I do remember that you could go down that staircase and immediately exit through the front doors.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 2, 2008 at 8:14 pm

This is probably the photo that started a false claim that the Bushwick had a lecherous history. One of the films mentioned on the marquee, “Women in Bondage,” was nothing more than a Monogram exploitationer about the plight of women in Nazi Germany. And the “Vaudeville Every Tues. & Wed. Night” consisted of several acts of budget-priced, family-oriented performers. It was not burlesque or anything close to it, as the proximity to the words “Women in Bondage” seem to have caused some to conclude:
View link

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on October 27, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Thanks, John D. and Warren.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 25, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Here’s a photo and article from a February 1912 issue of the New York Clipper. The entrance lobby was circular in design and rose to a dome in the ceiling. I suspect that the windows on Broadway and Howard looked out from various points of staircases, promenades and lounging areas used by balcony patrons. The stage facilities included four tiers of dressing rooms, as well as an apartment for quartering animals used in performances. The stage was 80 feet wide, wall-to-wall, with a proscenium opening of 30 feet in height, and a depth of 35 feet from curtain line to back wall:
View link
View link

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on October 25, 2008 at 10:30 am

Great discussion.

Just wanted you to know that the Ridgewood Times/Times Newsweekly has just printed its 100th anniversary issue. It contains a treasure trove of old pictures of the Ridgewood, Bushwick, Glendale, Middle Village, etc. communities. Included therein are, of course, MANY pictures of the great movie houses – including the Bushwick – that once served the area. While the edition will probably go on line in a little while, many of the pictures might not be carried over. So, if you can, you really should take a trip to the old neighborhood to fetch a copy – and enjoy.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on October 24, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Yes, just like the Flatiron Building, that corner really gets in one’s face.

Panzer65
Panzer65 on October 24, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Turning the clock back to 1911, one has to guess that most of the real estate in this neighborhood was undeveloped. The architect of this beautiful building most likely surveyed many symmetrical lots that could have been built on, but chose this one. So some credit is due to take on the challenge of building a triangular venue of this magnitude. No wonder why it still stands today so tall and proud.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on October 24, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Panzer65, the unusual design perhaps resulted from the unusual shape of the block that the theater was designed to occupy.

Panzer65
Panzer65 on October 24, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Thanks Warren, as usual you always come through, it is interesting to see that the triangular design is sort of offset to the Howard ave. side, and there appears to be a large foyer type of room to the extreme left of the orchestra. Another peculiar fact is that because of the triangular design, the area behind the stage, which must be the dressing rooms, is vast,and not included in the diagram.
All in all, it is a very unusual design for a Vaudeville house, most likely, unique to other venues.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on October 24, 2008 at 4:53 pm

Thanks, Bway and Warren.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 24, 2008 at 3:24 pm

In 1911, the Bushwick was reported to have cost $225,000. That would be equivalent to about $5 million in 2008.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 24, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Here’s an original 1911 floor plan showing fire exits. The ground floor plan is at the left:
View link

Bway
Bway on October 24, 2008 at 3:41 am

Actually, thinking about this a little more, it was probably the 3rd floor windows I looked into many times on the Broadway side. The 2nd floor part of those windows may or may not have been open to the lobby.

Bway
Bway on October 24, 2008 at 3:38 am

Yes. At least on the Broadway side, those large windows on the 2nd and third floors were rooms. They may have opened up over the lobby on the Howard Ave side, but don’t know.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on October 23, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Thanks, Bway. So, those rooms were not the interior lobby, but above the ceiling of the lobby.