Loew's Valencia Theatre

165-11 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm

I don’t recall a Gimbel’s store in Jamaica. W.T. Grant’s was near Woolworth’s, and on the same side of Jamaica Avenue. When I worked at Loew’s Valencia, if one of the goldfish in the reflecting pool suddenly died, we would rush to Grant’s or Woolworth’s to buy a replacement. Unfortunately, the store-bought fish never survived very long. They were much smaller and more delicate than the ones that came from Forest Park. There were a couple of kids that trapped them in buckets and sometimes brought them to the Valencia in exchange for free passes. Those fish also had a tendency to eat the smaller ones from the variety stores.

LuisV on July 11, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Thanks Lost Memory for that Jamaica link! Great info. Where was the Gimbels store? I know where Montgomery Wards, Macy’s and Mays were, but not Gimbels. I think I also remember WT Grants which I’m pretty sure was a department store that went bankrupt in the 70’s. Robert Hall (a large mens wear store) was also in Jamaica before also going bankrupt. It’s little wonder the Valencia was not able to hold on with everything falling apart around it.

PKoch on July 11, 2007 at 9:43 am

Thanks, Lost Memory.

PKoch on July 11, 2007 at 9:17 am

I do, very much, Lost Memory. Thanks for posting it.

I just sent the link to three friends via e-mail.

So Jamaica, as well as John Jacob Astor’s fortunes, owes its existence to beaver pelts.

Somewhat related to the coneys, or rock badgers, of Coney Island, I would think.

I won’t belabor the double entendre of “beaver hunt”.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 11, 2007 at 9:06 am

The furniture store was called Sach’s Quality, and part of a chain that covered at least Greater New York, if not elsewhere. Kurtz was a similar chain…I find it rather depressing that by 1977, the Valenica was reduced to playing movies like “Poor White Trash II.” And it wasn’t even exclusive first-run for Queens as in the days before “Premiere Showcase.” The same double bill was playing simultaneously on one of the three screens at RKO Keith’s Flushing and at the rundown UA Casino in Richmond Hill.

PKoch on July 11, 2007 at 8:43 am

You and me both, LuisV.

I don’t remember the Kurtz store offhand.

“Cooley High” was released in 1975.

LuisV on July 11, 2007 at 8:40 am

There were also two huge furniture stores in Jamaica, Saks New York (not to be confused with high end Sak’s Fifth Avenue and a store I think was called Kurtz (and no I’m not confusing it with Gertz Department Store) :–) By the way, I just remembered Gertz’s tag line…..“Where Long Island Shops”!

As much as I loved the Valencia, I do remember thinking twice about going due to the decline of the area in the 70’s. Though Jamaica never declined to the levels of other inner city neighborhoods in the city it was definitely pretty bad for Queens. I’m happy to see that there has been a lot of improvement over the last few years. There is a lot more on the drawing boards. I wish them luck!

PKoch on July 11, 2007 at 7:58 am

Thank you, Warren, for this information about the demise of the Long Island Press, and its final movie timetable.

I remember “Cooley High” being on TV in April 1977.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 11, 2007 at 7:54 am

Curiously, Jamaica suffered three traumatic events in 1977. In addition to the Valencia’s closing and the termination of elevated subway service, the Long Island Press, which had its offices in Jamaica for decades, ceased publication forever with its issue of March 25, 1977. Several hundred people lost their jobs, and Queens was deprived of its last daily newspaper. The Press’s final “Movie Timetable” shows only two theatres operating in Jamaica, Loew’s Valencia with a double feature of “Poor White Trash II” and “The Hitchhikers,” and the RKO Alden with a triple feature of “J.D.’s Revenge,” “Cornbread, Earl, and Me,” and “Cooley High.”

PKoch on July 10, 2007 at 1:13 pm

Thanks, Bway.

Bway on July 10, 2007 at 12:58 pm

The last day of normal operation on the Jamaica El was Sept 11, 1977. However, they did hold fantrips for the last time on both Sept 11th, 1977 (which was the last day for normal service), and Sept 12, 1977 ran a fantrip, which was the last day a passenger train traversed it….

PKoch on July 10, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Thanks, Bway. Was the closing date at 168th Street September 11th or October 10th, 1977 ? I think I just saw the latter date on nycsubway.org.

Bway on July 10, 2007 at 11:53 am

It “has” to be 1977, as the Jamaica Ave el was closed on September 11th, 1977, and there are photos at nycsubway.org using the 168th St Station, which was right at the Valencia, and there is already a “Tabernacle of Prayer” cross on the Valencia.

See here for one example:


PKoch on July 10, 2007 at 7:25 am

Thanks, Warren. I didn’t know that those other Queens theaters were “atmospheric”, that is, that their ceilings mimicked the evening sky.

No, Queens Logic, I don’t think that Jamaica movie theater you remember was any other than the Valencia.

BTW, are you the Queens cousin of Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic ?

From Slougham Road to Sutphin Blvd., perhaps ?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 10, 2007 at 5:58 am

Isn’t 1977 considered “the late 70s?” The Valencia definitely closed forever as a cinema in 1977. It was the only “atmospheric” theatre in Jamaica, and one of only four in the borough of Queens. The others were the Queensboro/Elmwood in Elmhurst, RKO Keith’s Flushing, and Loew’s Triboro in Astoria.

almcgrath on July 9, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Is everybody sure this movie theater stopped showing movies in 1977? I distinctly remember seeing a cheap martial arts movie at this theater in either the late 70’s or very early 80’s. But maybe I have the wrong movie theater in Jamaica? The movie house was Spanish mission style (I guess) and had dark clouds that moved across the ceiling. The ceiling itself mimicked an early evening sky (at dusk). I remember that on either side of the screen as well as on the right and left hand side of the auditorium, you were surrounded by these faux Spanish stucco walls (like the walls of a Spanish missionary). Can anybody verify that this was the Valencia or was it another Spanish Mission styled theater in Jamaica?

PKoch on June 28, 2007 at 8:48 am

As promised, my work friend’s movie-going experience at Loew’s Valencia :

“The Ten Commandments”, with his father, late 1950’s.

“The Bridge Over The River Kwai”, with Uncle Jerry, probably also cousin Robert and Aunt Bernice, 1957

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (James Stewart and John Wayne), probably 1964.

“Fantastic Voyage”, 1966.

“To Sir With Love”, 1967, with friend, Tom Krauss.

PKoch on May 31, 2007 at 6:59 am

I know what you mean, Jack Tomai. My parents owned a ‘67 Chevy Biscayne, my uncle, a '64 Impala. I’m glad you’re ON this website.

Perhaps you and your wife would enjoy a trip to Loew’s Jersey or Paradise, to relive those cherished experiences of moviegoing.

I know what you mean. Even if the movie was lousy, at least the theater was pretty to look at, and it was an afternoon or a night out.

Re : your “Rear Window” experience : early January 2006 I saw the new “King Kong” at our local multiplex (Greenburgh NY) with my wife, son and then-86 yr old father, and my dad kept waving at the screem for Naomi Watts (Ann Darrow) to get down to safety from atop the Empire State Building.

Yes, magnificent theaters, real show biz architecture and interior designs, rather than ipods and cell phones, though all technology has its place.

I will ask my friend at lunch today what movies he saw at the Valencia.

jacktomai on May 30, 2007 at 1:27 pm

I’m so glad I discovered this website! As an avid movie fan my whole life, it’s wonderful to chat with others who are as passionate about films and theatres as I am. My wife and I go to the movies often but we are so sick of the boxlike multiplexes. Leno is SO right! We are always reminiscing about the old classic theatres. So I guess that makes us old fogies. But to see a film in a Valencia or Madison or even the Embassy was wonderful. Even if the picture stunk, at least the theatre was pretty to look at.
Re SAMSON AND DELILAH – I honestly don’t remember the quality of the picture or the sound. I was just so happy to be allowed to go by myself that I would have been thrilled just to watch newsreels all afternoon!
It’s amazing how so many of us who grew up in the 50s & 60s were so incredibly influenced by moviegoing. Not just movies – but moviegoing. Going out to the movies was a treat. It was very often a family event. I recall seeing BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI with my parents and aunts and uncles and cousins in Patchogue, Long Island in 1957, I believe, and when it was over, we all marched out of the Patchogue theatre whistling the Colonel Bogie March. I remember a bunch of us going to see REAR WINDOW at the Embassy (1956?)and my grandmother yelling at Grace Kelly to get out of the murderer’s apt. cause she could see him (Raymond Burr) coming up the stairs. I’ll never forget seeing DAMN YANKEES (1958) at the RKO Keiths and my parents and I singing “Ya Gotta Have Heart” on the way to our 55 Chevy Bel Air. But I guess each generation has its own memories of movie going. I’m just happy that I got mine from magnificent theatres rather than Ipods or cell phones.

PKoch on May 30, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Thank you, Jack Tomai, for posting this important movie memory of yours.

I have a friend at work about your age who went to the Valencia as a boy of twelve, as you did. He thought the beautiful blue ceiling, with its clouds and few twilight stars, was really the sky !

In contrast to THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, SAMSON AND DELILAH seemed to have been filmed on indoor sound stages, judging from the quality of the sound. Did you notioe that then ?

I know what you mean about younger generations having no idea of what a wonderful experience going to the movies used to be. As Jay Leno once so aptly put it, today’s cinemas don’t look like movie theaters any more : they’re concrete bunkers at the end of the shopping mall !

jacktomai on May 30, 2007 at 12:33 pm

I have a wonderful memory of seeing a return engagement of SAMSON AND DELILAH starring Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature at the beautiful Valencia Theatre. It was 1960 and I met my friend Ray Pistone in front of the theatre for a matinee and there was a line outside! I was 12 years old and it was the first time I was allowed to travel from my Cypress Hills neighborhood to Jamaica, Queens alone on the el train. I felt very grown up and the movie was stupendous. The grandiose theatre matched the Cecil B. DeMille movie in every aspect and I think it hurt movie going for me for many years thereafter because I wanted every movie going experience to be like that! Big movie – big theatre! I feel so sorry for younger generations who have no idea what an experience it used to be to go to the movies!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 13, 2007 at 5:51 am

The Valencia ended its original film/stage policy on September 5th, 1935, with a powerful vaudeville program of famous headliners of the time. Since opening in January, 1929, the Valencia’s stage bills had numbered nearly 350, with a program change every week. About half were revues that originated at the Capitol Theatre, the rest vaudeville bills. Here’s an ad for the final booking:
On September 6th, the Valencia switched to its new “All The Show on the Screen Policy.” The main benefit to the public was that ticket prices dropped by ten cents, a major saving in those Depression days:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 11, 2007 at 7:39 am

I love this 1935 ad, with Bing Crosby starring on screen and Bob Hope topping the stage show. Crosby’s leading lady was the recently deceased Kitty Carlisle. Hope later married his stage partner, Dolores Reade, who still survives him:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 16, 2007 at 4:15 am


PKoch on February 12, 2007 at 5:17 am

Thanks, Warren. Here’s to cloche hats and flapper girls with bare legs !