RKO Bushwick Theatre

1396 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NY 11221

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Showing 201 - 225 of 444 comments

Bway on October 23, 2008 at 9:00 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 8:59 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 8:36 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 8:02 pm

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

BrooklynJim on October 23, 2008 at 4:39 pm

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 9:51 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 8:27 pm

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

Panzer65 on October 22, 2008 at 9:12 am

Thank you Lost Memory for the excellent interior photo.

Ziggy on October 21, 2008 at 10:50 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 10:30 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 9:51 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 9:45 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 9:15 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?

PeterKoch on October 21, 2008 at 3:44 pm

That’s a good, basic question, Louis Rugani, and I thank you for asking it. I would guess that all those windows opened into the inner lobby, with the possible exception of that circular “porthole” high up on the corner, which may have opened into the outer, upper balcony.

It would be great to have a photo of the inner lobby of the RKO Bushwick, when it still functioned as a theater.

LouisRugani on October 21, 2008 at 3:15 pm

A great facade, one of my favorites. Where did all those windows open into?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Here’s a new link to a photo that I posted above on 7/29/05. It’s NOT the same photo mentioned yesterday by “Lost Memory."
View link

PeterKoch on October 17, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Cool, LM. Thanks.

PeterKoch on October 16, 2008 at 10:48 pm

Lost Memory, I just tried the link, and it works. It shows the Bushwick inhabited by the Pilgrim Baptist Church, which now occupies Loew’s Gates Theatre. Thank you.

johndereszewski on October 11, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Thanks, Warren. I did not realize that McElfatrick designed the RKO Greenpoint, where I spent many afternoons in my youth.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 11, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Some of McElfatrick’s projects are listed here: http://cinematreasures.org/architects/171/
The listing for the Embassy-2-3-4 in NYC is actually for the Columbia Burlesque Theatre, which occupied that site before Thomas Lamb totally gutted the interior and turned it into the Mayfair cinema.

johndereszewski on October 11, 2008 at 4:49 pm

The correction appears on page 2 in tomorrow’s Real Estate section.

Since the main point of the piece concerned Lanb’s EXTERIOR designs, the error was pretty egregious and certainly extremely unfair to McElfatrick.

Warren, can you provide us with a few other examples of McElfatrick’s work?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 9, 2008 at 9:26 pm

The Bushwick should NOT have been included in that Thomas Lamb article in last Sunday’s New York Times. William H. McElfatrick was the Bushwick’s architect. Lamb only did some interior renovations in the 1920s. I believe that the NYT will be publishing a correction, if it hasn’t already…The introduction to this listing also needs to be corrected. If Lamb must be listed in the architectural credits, his name should be listed after McElfatrick, with a semi-colon dividing the names. The current order can give a false impression that Lamb was the guiding force on this project. He definitely WASN’T.

Bway on October 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm

The RKO Bushwick is mentioned in a wonderful article from the NY Times on Thomas Lamb:

View link

Panzer65 on July 22, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Nice photo Warren,
A truly beautiful theater inside and out.