Beekman Theatre

1254 2nd Avenue,
New York, NY 10021

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bazookadave on August 5, 2005 at 1:23 pm

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On Friday, August 5, a work crew was at the Beekman, setting up a scaffold directly beneath the marquee. Either the marquee is going to be taken down, or the scaffold is being built to conceal the demolition of the interior.

I also included a pic of the new Beekman 1&2…definitely should have used the old script for the name. After looking at the front of the hideous glass building the theater occupies, I see very little room for where the original metal and glass Beekman signs (removed from the Beekman marquee weeks back) might have been placed. Maybe those two signs were brought into the Beekman once they were removed, just to store them until they can be taken away.

Here is an excerpt from the massive tome “New York 1960: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial.” Published by The Monacelli Press. Second edition, 1997. Page 842:

New York Life’s plans for Manhattan House also included a two-story commercial structure, built to preserve the views from the apartment building. Designed by Fellheimer & Wagner and completed in 1952, the low-rise building contained a beanck of the Corn Exchange Bank on the northeast corner of Sixty-fifth Street and Second Avenue, and the Beekman Theater, at 1254 Second Avenue. The theater, which featured art films and served coffee in the lobby, lent a note of sophisitication to the area. The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther applauded the decision to include the theater: “Despite all the dire prognostications of the ruinous competition of TV, not to mention the mischievous rumors that the public is getting tired of films, the big New York Life Insurance Company had the courage to go right ahead and back this new theater construction, to the tune of a million or so.” The theeater’s Modernist design, Crowther said, was a vast improvement over the previous era’s vast and ornate picture palaces and an overdue response to public preference. “For a long time it has been apparent,” he asserted, ‘that one of the several things that have caused a decline in movie-going, especially by people of better taste, has been an increasing aversion to the older downtown and neighborhood 'barns’….Clean and respectable though they may be, they are achitecturally passe and dull.“ In contrast, Crowther said, the Beekman was "tastefully planned and decorated in sleek but not ostentatious style, with plenty of room for lounging, having coffee and stretching the legs, as well as for freedom pf passage in and out of the widely spaced rows.” All in all, he said, the theater had an “air of refinement, elegance and chic that bathes the discriminating patron with a relaxing warmth.” The lobby was redesigned in 1962 by Rolf Myller to include a free-form, undulating bank of seating that accommodated up to seventy-five people."

NativeForestHiller on August 4, 2005 at 1:09 am

Another case in which those evil landlords win out, & another failure for the Landmarks Preservation Commission!!! We don’t have too many theaters left around the city that were erected in mid-century modernism. A DAMN SHAME!!!!!

uncleal923 on July 31, 2005 at 5:27 pm

I looked at the picture above and they should’ve kept that lettering

Astyanax on July 31, 2005 at 8:54 am

Despite several suggestions on this site that the distinct marquee signage from the Beekman orignal be moved across the street for the renaming of NY Twin 1 & 2, new lettering has appeared on that marquee which is stark and linear, with little relation to the cursive style of the revered predecessor.

uncleal923 on July 30, 2005 at 8:06 pm

They are not the original. I have a feeling that in the eyes of some people on this page they will never be the original. It’s like the Loew’s State in the bottom of the Virgin Mega Store in Times Square, not even a good imitation in some people’s eyes.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on July 30, 2005 at 2:18 pm

On the 27th, I saw that the two Beekman marquee signs were gone and the one over the facade was still in place. The theaters across the street are now Beekman 1 & 2, and their newly-installed signs don’t mimic the original Beekman design.

uncleal923 on July 24, 2005 at 8:14 pm

I was never there WAAAAAA

Suwanti on July 23, 2005 at 4:48 pm

What a sad news!

jph on July 20, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Very saddening to see the changes happen so fast.

Mikeoaklandpark on July 20, 2005 at 9:39 am

I noticed the Beekman sign over the marquee was gone. Are they planning on using it in the New York Twin location?

RobertR on July 20, 2005 at 8:16 am

They learned well from the low lifes at City Cinemas.

br91975 on July 20, 2005 at 7:49 am

Call me a conspiracy theorist – if you did, you wouldn’t be the first – but methinks Memorial Sloan-Kettering established the closing date they did in order to negate any last-minute, miracle landmarking effort.

dave-bronx™ on July 18, 2005 at 10:24 am

That’s probably it – the bank didn’t look like it was going anyplace too soon – which brings up the question of why they didn’t let Clearview stay on a short-term lease extension that would expire at the same time as the banks? As it is now, since the building is apparently not coming down immediately it will probably be vandalized (before it suffers the ultimate vandalism).

bazookadave on July 18, 2005 at 8:49 am

Hi dave
In the past whenever I have seen buildings sealed off this way with painted wood or paper, it usually indicates that the property is going to be sitting empty for a long period before demolition begins. In this case the landlord might have to wait for the bank’s lease to expire before starting to tear the block down, and until then the former Beekman’s windows and doors have been sealed against curious sentimental nosy photogs (like me!). The big pane of glass was removed right after the closing, maybe they need it clear so they can remove large objects through the window.

dave-bronx™ on July 17, 2005 at 11:58 am

I wonder what they’re doing? And why was the pane of glass removed from one of the upper windows?

bazookadave on July 14, 2005 at 10:09 am

You’re very welcome! It is always sad to see formerly excellent places become stripped shells. For some reason I am sentimental about places and become highly attached to them, and remain loyal to them even if I have not visited or seen them for years. Taking picturs like these of the Beekman provides closure of some sort. If not comfort.

br91975 on July 14, 2005 at 8:53 am

It’s crushing to consider how an almost perfect theatre can effectively be turned to ruin in such a short amount of time. Thanks for posting that most recent set of photos, davebazooka, and for the previous ones you posted as well.

Shade on July 5, 2005 at 10:46 pm

My favorite porn title, towards the end of New York, was at the Circus Circus, which is now Noche:

A Clockwork Orgy

Sure wish I got a picture of that.

Hey, I don’t know where else to post this but Howard Johnson’s last day is this Friday, sometimes between 2am and 3:45am. After Howard Johnson’s closes, the last of Times Square will cease to exist.

City Knickerbocker lights and lamps on 8th just closed and has been emptied out too. Expect another lame bar to fill the space…

evmovieguy on July 5, 2005 at 8:29 pm

I’ll never forget one of the best porn titles I saw on a Times Square marquee, probably around 1987-88 when the show ‘21 Jump Street’ was pretty popular. The marquee at the theater, probably on 45th or 46th street & Broadway read, get this… ‘21 Hump Street’!! Ah, memories!

I sailed by The Beekman tonight on the M15 Bus and noticed the trademark ‘Beekman’ logo had been removed from both sides of the sidewalk marquee. For whatever reason the same ‘Beekman’ logo that sits over the center window facing the street is still there. I’m sure that will be gone soon though. Very sad. It looks like a beautiful corpse being barbarically ravaged by vultures.

Warren, don’t look in the dictionary just pick any ‘hot’, ‘trendy’ place in the city and you’ll see an example of the ‘panzie palace’ ie., droves of people that have no identity trying to prove that they in fact have one. You can find this specifically at ANY bar or lounge that has a velvet rope and a long line. Dance clubs I’ll make an exception on, but bars that people wait to go into just to buy over-priced drinks and hear some crappy DJ? I don’t get that. Just go to a regular bar! If you have to wait on line for some nightlife it should involve dancing, a band, or both. And if you do wait on these trendy bar lines just to feel cool and buy $12 cocktails, then you are just lost and hopelessly searching for identity.

hardbop on July 3, 2005 at 7:48 am

I moved to NYC in March of ‘82 and remember the wild and woolly days of the eighties/early nineties well. It is mind boggling how the city is changing/has changed. When you really notice it is when you see a film shot on location in NYC in the seventies or eighties. I remember watching “Contract on Cherry Street” I think the name of it was (w/ Frank Sinatra) and seeing a shot of the 7 train. Every car on the train was completely covered in graffiti. I remember when I first moved here that was the rule, rather than the exception, for subway cars. It looks weird to see subway cars covered in graffiti.

And just yesterday I was watching a video, “Sword of Gideon,” and there is a location shot in Times Square and it looks like Stephen Bauer is driving his cab south on Broadway, making a left/turning east on I’m not sure what street but you can see two theatres on the east side of Broadway. One marquee advertised two porno flicks for $2.99 and the other was playing “Violets are Blue.” It must have been shot in the mid-to-late 1980s. I didn’t even recognize the theatres.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on July 3, 2005 at 6:27 am

That’s funny… I live at 84th and Third, and there are a number of places to eat after midnight around here.

Alas, I went by the Beekman last night, on the way to the ImaginAsian Theatre for a screening, and it was sad to see this grand dame already in a state of disrepair. The beautiful box office had already been removed, a plain and ugly metal desk now sitting in its place. The north facing marquee, as seen in several of DaveBazooka’s photos, has already been partially dismantled, so it now reads TH CL. Thankfully, I was on the M15, so I only saw this for about twenty seconds.

Sad. Very sad.

dave-bronx™ on July 2, 2005 at 12:43 am

I stopped by the Beek when I left work tonight – anybody want to buy a chandelier? There is a hand-written sign on the door stating ‘Chandelier for sale – art deco [i imagine it is the one there in the outer lobby] – also candy stand’ – but since all the inside lights were left on at 3:30 am, you could see inside and the stand was already gone, only the soda tubes sticking out of the floor.

evmovieguy on July 1, 2005 at 3:59 pm

“New York is being ripped out of itself. In a weird sort of way I kind of wish Dinkins would get re-elected so the crime rate would sky-rocket and all these transplants from Kansas would stop trying to re-make Manhattan into suburbia with high-rise buildings and get out of here. Did you know that after about midnight on Saturday night you can’t find anyplace to eat on either Third or Lexington Avenues from 86th St. to about 45th? Years ago there were all kinds of places open late…”

I’m with you dave-bronx. I have lived in NYC for 20 years. One of my main objectives for coming here, besides going to school, was to get the hell out of the suburbs that I had grown up in for most of my life. I wanted 24/7 electric weirdness. Cool things to do, interesting experiences and people. I wanted THE city life and for a long time I got it and never looked back. When I would go home to visit I would love the fact that I was so disconnected from what was happening there. New chain stores and franchises would be popping up there that I had never heard of because I lived on planet Manhattan where we were immune from all that crap. It was great! I would go home and drive around and be like ‘Red Lobster? Never saw that before.’

There were no Kmarts, Walmarts, Circuit Citys, Olive Gardens, or any of that crap in NYC. For most of my time here I never even owned a TV. I didn’t need one. I was completely unaware of who any of the ‘Entertainment Tonight’ caliber celebrities were, and I loved it.

It’s hard to beleive that a city as tough as New York would let itself beturned into the panzie palace it is fast becoming. It seems that everything around here is the complete opposite from what it was 10-15 years ago. My neighborhood in the East Village used to be a pretty sleepy place, now it’s like Six Flags Great Adventure around here on the weekends. Where did all of these rich, arrogant, overly primped, overly goodlooking, Starbucks generation people who think they’re ‘slumming it’ come from? I want them outta here…NOW!