RKO Bushwick Theatre

1396 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NY 11221

Unfavorite 13 people favorited this theater

Showing 176 - 200 of 415 comments

PeterKoch on November 20, 2008 at 10:14 am

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 on November 19, 2008 at 9:11 pm

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.

PeterKoch on October 27, 2008 at 7:36 am

Thanks, John D. and Warren.

johndereszewski on October 25, 2008 at 2:30 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 on October 24, 2008 at 2:07 pm

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

Panzer65 on October 24, 2008 at 1:44 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 on October 24, 2008 at 1:26 pm

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

Panzer65 on October 24, 2008 at 1:08 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 on October 24, 2008 at 8:53 am

Thanks, Bway and Warren.

Bway on October 23, 2008 at 7:41 pm

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 on October 23, 2008 at 7:38 pm

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 on October 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm

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

Bway on October 23, 2008 at 1:00 pm

As for the windows, I remember riding by on J trains, and looking in. The windows were all smashed on the Bway side, and you could look in. They were rooms. I don’t know what kind of rooms, but you could see plaster everywhere that had collapsed. of course, you could only get a quick glimpse inside as the trains went by.

Bway on October 23, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Warren, I didn’t know that was that photo. I think that photo was emailed to me by JF Lundy some time ago (I really don’t remember). It came from some sort of a book, as the photo next to it was an exterior photo, with a description on the Bushwick. That photo is also linked above by “someone” some years ago.

PeterKoch on October 23, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Thanks, BrooklynJim. How many stories high was the inner lobby, and what did those large rectangular windows open onto inside ? How about that high circular “porthole” way up near the cornice on the rounded corner ?

Understood, Jim, about Gates & Bway circa 1961.

Panzer65 on October 23, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Perhaps a date at The Roxy in Manhattan would accomplish a second date Brooklyn Jim?

BrooklynJim on October 23, 2008 at 8:39 am

If I’m not mistaken, guys, there was a manager’s office on the 2nd floor above the lobby. Probably included a safe where the day’s receipts could be stored. Management staffers may have had their own restrooms on that floor, as well.

What a memory you have, Pete. ‘61 was my last trip (“Curse of the Werewolf”). You just didn’t bring a Saturday night date to Gates & Broadway in that era and hope to land a second one with her in the future.

PeterKoch on October 22, 2008 at 1:51 pm

You’re welcome, Panzer65. I’ve also privately questioned “BrooklynJim” about this, and am awaiting his answer. I think he said he was last to the RKO Bushwick in 1961.

Panzer65 on October 22, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Thanks Peter, I’m hoping to see another interior photo as well.

Panzer65 on October 22, 2008 at 1:12 am

Thank you Lost Memory for the excellent interior photo.

Ziggy on October 21, 2008 at 2:50 pm

I assume that the windows were for office space because of the regularity of the fenestration, like an office building. The offices were probably rentals and not connected with the theatre from the inside. This was a common concept for many theatre buildings.

PeterKoch on October 21, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Panzer65, I think the lobby was triangular, an isosceles right triangle, and the auditorium rectangular, with the long dimension parallel to Howard Avenue. ziggy, I don’t think there was ever any office space within.

The only interior photos I know of were provided by Bway, taken from his copy of the 1987 film “The Believers”, the end of which was filmed inside the RKO Bushwick Theatre. There is probably access to them somewhere on this thread. They show the inner lobby and the auditorium. There is also a photo of the interior available somewhere, taken shortly after the theater opened, taken from the balcony, looking down towards the proscenium arch, stage, and screen.

Panzer65 on October 21, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Thank you for your reply regarding the RKO Bushwick’s windows. This asymmetrical design, which replicates the landmark Flatiron Building in Manhattan, must also have an asymmetrical interior. If I remember correctly, the RKO Bushwick started as a Vaudeville only house, which caused the balcony’s sight lines to be partial when sitting in the rear seats.
Does anyone have any interior photos of this beauty?

Ziggy on October 21, 2008 at 1:45 pm

If you look at the photo at the top of this theatre’s page you can see that the windows don’t open into the auditorium portion of the building. It’s probable that the Bushwick didn’t have too large of a lobby, so I would think that the windows were there for office space.

Panzer65 on October 21, 2008 at 1:15 pm

A most beautiful exterior, I have wondered about those portals above the windows Peter, could they have been for ventilation purposes in the balcony?