Loew's Oriental Theatre

1832 86th Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11214

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Showing 176 - 200 of 227 comments

br91975
br91975 on December 15, 2004 at 10:08 am

I’d think the best person to gain permission to explore what remains of the Oriental would be someone who: a) can locate a store manager during a relative moment of downtime (perhaps, say, during the early morning hours of a Monday or Tuesday – I’d guess not too many people go shopping then) – and a sympathetic-seeming manager at that; and, b) can offer a genuine, sympathetic anecdote or two and an understanding that what’s being made is an unusual request. That approach has worked for me in similar situations and I suspect it would in this case, too.

fbarlam
fbarlam on December 15, 2004 at 7:48 am

I lived on Bay 19 from 1954 – 1972. Tommy, who are your grandparents and father? Email me at

racerx85
racerx85 on December 14, 2004 at 7:46 pm

I would love to go in there and ask to look around upstairs. I doubt they would let me. Maybe we can get a bunch of us together and see if we can pull it off.

Does anyone remember the chandelier up stairs? I always wondered what they did with it after they made it a triplex.

racerx85
racerx85 on December 9, 2004 at 8:39 pm

Wow. I thought I was the only one who cared. I grew up on Bay 19 between Cropsey and Shore in the 70’s and 80’s. My grandparents and father lived there since 1948. Hey Fred, maybe you knew them! This theatre was a palace to me. I saw Star Wars there 58 times! It tears my heart out every time I think about it.

A few years back I asked a Marshall’s guard what happened to the rest of the theatre since it’s only a one-floor store. He said it was all still up there. Do you guys know how many times I’ve thought of trying to gain access to that? I’d love to see what happend to the rest of it. I took my future wife to our first movie there 20 years ago. Back To The Future, but the way. I still have dreams about that place. I’m glad there are some people who still remember.

fbarlam
fbarlam on December 3, 2004 at 10:09 pm

We lived on Bay 19th Street between Cropsey and Shore Parkway. I remember walking home with my parents and my older brother on a cold wintery night after seeing a movie at the Oriental in the mid 1950s. I was about 7 years old and I was FREEZING. My mother opened up her persian lamb coat and wrapped both me and her in it as we continued on our trip home. I was toasty from then on! The Oriental was the “classy” theatre in the neighborhood as opposed to the less opulent Deluxe or Benson. As a kid the huge dimly lit upstairs lobby at the Oriental, with it’s large woooden chairs that looked like royal thrones, would scare me, but the air conditioning on hot summer nights was a welcomed relief.

nlttak
nlttak on December 2, 2004 at 6:00 am

Hi: ERD had asked in Aug. if Loew’s Oriental ever had a pipe organ?? YES, it did!! It was a 3 manual 13 rank Robert Morton. I was at the Oriental in the late 80’s to remove the organ’s 15hp blower from the sub basement. The Oriental’s blower is now playing the recently installed organ in the Heights Theatre in Columbia Heights, MN. There wasn’t much left in the organ chambers but, the swell shades, marimba harp and some regulators. The theatre was still very much open and alive but, not well enough to survive. It’s a real shame that someone hasn’t bought and restored this wonderful theatre!! Cheers: TK…

MichaelAnthony
MichaelAnthony on November 28, 2004 at 7:11 pm

I think its sac-religous, with everything that has happened with all the theatre’s in brooklyn. To me, they are like Roman Monuments…

Bway
Bway on October 5, 2004 at 5:54 pm

Here’s a current photo I took of the Oriental, taken from the elevated West End Subway Line on July 24, 2004:

Click here for photo

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on September 13, 2004 at 1:36 pm

Sorry I missed you, Tampadad. I’m glad to read that the theater did such a brisk business on weekends back when you were there. The one and only film I ever saw at Loew’s Oriental was “Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home” the last Sunday in February 1987. It was a triplex at the time. Even divided into three cinemas, each cinema was huge, given the total size of the theater. The Moorish architecture of balconies, arches, vaulted ceilings, all covered with ceramic tiles, was beautiful. Seeing all of this, one of my friends thought it had been a mosque before it was a theater. I and my other friends had to explain to her the grandiose architecture and interior decor of some of NYC’s older theaters.

Did a gang war break out inside the theater during “Fort Apache The Bronx” ?

Tampadad
Tampadad on September 13, 2004 at 1:08 pm

If you ever went to this theatre between the years of 1977 to 1984, there is a good chance you saw me there. I started out as an usher and shortly thereafter became Assistant Manager. I worked six nights a week during those years, while I was going to school in the day. Many weekend evenings there were sold out crowds in 2 theatres at the same time (about 2,000 people) with another sold out crowd filling the lobbies downstairs and upstairs and circling the block one way for downstairs and the other way for upstairs. Star Wars, Grease, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, to name a few. We had a police car stationed outside for the opening of Fort Apace the Bronx. It was truely an exciting experience-

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on September 8, 2004 at 7:23 pm

I went around there a while after the Oriental closed, and found that the auditorium, lobby and other store-fronts on 86th St. had been stripped down to the brick walls and roof. There was a freshly poured flat concrete floor in the auditorium area. When I looked in from the side exit doors there was no balcony. The only thing from the theatre that was left at that time were the brass entrance doors.

ahkesq
ahkesq on September 8, 2004 at 3:59 pm

I was told by a Loew’s corporate executive a few years ago that the Marcus Loew plaque was removed by Loew’s and is now outside the entrance to the theatre at Lincoln Square honoring Loew…ahkesq

ERD
ERD on August 22, 2004 at 12:07 pm

Somone recently mentioned that the Oriental had an organ. I don’t recall seeing it when I attended the theatre. I also do not remember
Loew’s 46th Street or Loew’s Boro Park having a theatre organ.
Does anyone know for sure?

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on August 4, 2004 at 8:03 am

The Loew’s Oriental opened on October 13th, 1927 only about a month after Marcus Loew the chains founder passed away. The first feature to premiere at the Oriental was “Beau Geste” and the last three movies to play there were “Muriels Wedding, A Goofy Movie & Tommy Boy”

Hawthorne Amusement Corp. (A Loew’s Theatres Subsidiary) owned this theatre for much of its run. Abe Boritz was the projectionist at the time of its closing and had worked in this theatre for 26 years. The final ticket prices at the time of its closing in 1995 were $4.00 for a matinee show and $7.00 all other times.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 30, 2004 at 6:21 am

Warren, it’s a shame that we live in a time where unfortunately that has to happen. I did do this a few years ago so it could be possible that the policy is the same at the Oriental Marshall’s.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 30, 2004 at 6:06 am

yes, I’ve been in that store and asked to use the bathroom, once they open the door, you go up the original marble staircase on what would have been on the left side. I’m not sure if the right staircase is still intact but from the looks of things on the main selling floor it actually might be. I agree with Mark that the balcony are might still exist as a secondary floor. It’s sad that there are drop tiles everywhere hiding anything original.

MarkW
MarkW on June 30, 2004 at 5:29 am

Bathrooms are still upstairs but everything is new construction. I have a funny feeling that the balcony still exists. I am trying to confirm this.

YMike
YMike on June 30, 2004 at 4:55 am

The bathrooms were upstairs. Similar to the Loews Jersey, but smaller. There was also a plaque on the upper lobby wall dedicated to Marcus Loew. (had a small bust of his face on it) Wonder what happened to that. I believe part of the marble staircase still exists. If you go into the Marshall’s store there is a black door on the left wall with a window. If you look through the window you can see the staircase. I bet they still use the bathrooms upstairs.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 29, 2004 at 5:47 pm

I remember what crummy shape the seats were in the last time I was in the upstairs theatre, when you sat down the whole row would rock back and forth with you. Remember the big marble staircase leading up to the former balcony sections, I think the bathrooms were in the upstairs section just like the Kingsway, so much for being ADA friendly.

YMike
YMike on June 29, 2004 at 12:44 pm

They replaced the original seats with the orange ones when they twinned the balcony theatre.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 24, 2004 at 1:38 pm

It was twinned in 1976, and triplexed in 1983, at the very start of Saturday Night Fever, when the B Train zooms off, you can see the Loew’s Oriental Building and writting in faded paint Loew’s Oriental. Does anyone remember the upstairs theatres with the orange seats?

YMike
YMike on June 24, 2004 at 1:18 pm

It is the Benson Marquee. I have lived in the neighborhood all my life and you can not see the Oriental Marquee from 20th ave. I believe the Oriental does appear later in the film. Its like the chase scene from the “French Connection” (Also filmed in this neighborhood) If you watch closely they pass Lafayette High School several times during the chase. Sometimes the train is on the center track, sometimes its on a different track. By the way, what year was the Oriental twinned? If it was in the late 1970’s then they could not have shown Rocky and Network in 1976. The last film I saw at the Oriental was Dick Tracy in the main (downstairs) theatre. Untill its demise the entire orchestra section was intact as one theatre. Several rows of seats were missing here and there so you had great leg room in many of the rows. It really is a shame it had to close.

HomegaMan
HomegaMan on June 24, 2004 at 12:10 pm

You are wrong!!!
But you are right!
Think about it….

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 24, 2004 at 11:19 am

I am not wrong Carl, I grew up two blocks away from the Benson and I know the area. In the movie Tony buys two slices at Lenny’s Pizza, then goes into Shirtown on the corner of 86th St. and 20th Avenue, how is it possible that you can see the marquee of the Oriental if it’s actually two Avenues over from 20th Ave? Trust me it’s the Benson Marquee that you see in the movie. The Oriental did not even have a stainless steel marquee like the one shown in the movie.

HomegaMan
HomegaMan on June 24, 2004 at 11:01 am

You are wrong Theaterfan. I lived in that neighborhood all my life and I was there. But you discuss it with the rest…