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The Kingsway definitely was a twin in 1979. I remember one time when I went to see a movie there in the upstairs theater. After the movie ended, us the audience filed out of the theater and as we went downstairs to the exits, a couple of guys (I think they were teenagers, I’m not sure. They could have been in their early 20s. I was 10 years old in 1979) emerged from our crowd on the stairs and immediately ducked into the theater that was playing Kramer vs. Kramer, a 1979 movie. For the life of me, I do not recall the movie I saw upstairs, but because Kramer vs Kramer was a drama about adults and divorce, I wasnt interested in seeing that movie (my own parents were divorced, but that wasnt the reason why I didnt want to see it). I didnt watch Kramer vs Kramer until many years later on tv.
An excerpt of an article from last year:
Coming soon to this old moviehouse
By Ben Muessig
The Brooklyn Paper
A movie theater that entertained Bensonhurst until blight reduced it to rubble is now showing a mystery.
Real-estate brokers are taking offers for a vacant lot on Bay Parkway that was once home to the Marboro Cinema, but no one knows what kind of building will replace the former multiplex.
Zoning laws will allow developers to build almost anything on the half-block lot: apartments, offices, shops, or even another movie theater, according to broker Jeffrey Shalom.
â€œCommercial, residential or mixed-use can be built there,â€ Shalom said. â€œThere is an opportunity to build the largest new retail store in the neighborhood. This is what makes the property so unique. â€¦ There is no other development site in the community where such a building can be built.â€
“Just to put an end to Brownstone limestone dispute. Lets just call it what it should be called. A ROW house.”
Sounds fair. I’ll accept that (maybe…I’ll mull it over with my attorneys) ;–) Sorry about all the confusion, but everyone, all the adults, around me at the time refered to it as a brownstone, and what does a little kid (and even as a grown adult) know about architecture? But I just dont like it when my memories are being trampled on and practically being called a liar by you know who about my own neigborhood. I mean, for goodness sakes, I lived there.
“All the private homes that used to have grassy front yards are gone or changed. Every home is built out to the sidewalk or have driveways where the green yards used to be.”
Yeah, using google street view, I can see that. :–) Although I lived around the corner on 12th street, I often came around to 13th for one reason or another (the synagogue is still there, but the old grocery store has been replaced with a beauty supply store). And you’re right. Where there were once front lawns/yards, are now driveways.
I’m not surprised about the homes being built out all the way to the sidewalk. I read an article about homes being built today. According to it, what with todays technology (cable tv, sattelite tv, tivo and DVD players, home computers, video games, etc), the homes of today have become more like community centers. Whereas homes used to be built primarily to provide shelter, evidently today theyre built more to provide room and comfort. So theyre going to make use of every inch of the property to build on.
I do wonder if the kids who today live around the areas of 12th and 13th streets, if they ever go out and play with their friends on the sidewalk or in each others backyard as often as we used to do, if at all. Like I pointed out before, what with all the new technology (cable tv, DVD players, home computers, video games, etc), kids today tend to stay indoors alot. Back in the 1970s, the only thing that I had to keep me indoors was a 25 inch color tv (no cable). I watched alot of stuff on tv, but other than that, I was playing outside in all sorts of weather (with the exception of rain).
It’s a brownstone. Aside from the fact that the outer layer of the building isnt clad in brownstone material, the rest fits the description of a brownstone. (never heard of a limestone building)
“The neighborhood was well kept and all the homes (mostly 1 family) all clean and well taken care of. This did not look like a poor neighborhood at all.”
I recall East 13th street. :–) I had friends (and bullies) living there. True it didnt LOOK poor. Just average. Indeed some people there seemed to be doing better than on my street. I do recall a mix of single family homes and apartment buildings.
I also recall the little grocery store there on East 13th. I also remember a synagogue on East 13th (this is different from the Jewish center on Ave. P and 12th). I recall right next door to the synagogue was an old private house. That old house it seemed was not occupied by anyone. As the years passed, it would deteriorate and no one would come and repair it. Inside the first floor of the house, you could see inside somewhat, and there was nothing but cardboard boxes piled high, but obviously filled with something. Due to its creepy loook and feel, that house gained the reputation as the neighborhood “haunted house” (not because it was actually haunted, but because thats how kids are).
Eventually, that old house burned down to the ground. I personally watched the firefighters fight that fire. As the firefighters battled the blaze, I remember one of the neighborhood bullies giving some guy his version of events on how he discovered the fire and the guy was writing it all down in his little notebook (no doubt the guy was a police or fire investigator). I overheard the bully tell this guy how as he was playing ball, his ball went over into the driveway of the house, he went to retrieve it, and saw that the house was burning, so he went and called the fire department.
His version of events completely struck me as a bunch of BS. As I’ve NEVER known this kid to play ball. And what kind of game with a ball, he never specified (basketball, football, baseball, stickball, handball?). Plus, he used the word “ball” so damn much. “I was playing ball, my ball went over, I went to get my ball”, etc. Which made ME suspicious. I assumed that he was the one who set the fire. I wondered if the investigator was buying that kids story. Anyways, doing a google street view on that property lot reveals that its now occupied by a apartment house of 6 apartments (3x3).
“I also went to P.S. 238 from K – 8th grade from 1952 – 1960. Then to James Madison H.S. I remember at P.S. 238 you would hang out in the schoolyard until a whistle blew & then you had to line up by class. There were 2 big yards. One for boys on the north end and one for girls on the south side. These were for the older grades. The younger grades were in a smaller middle yard between the other two.”
Now that brings back a memory! I didnt go to 238 for that long. Just from grades 2-5. But when I went there, they were still doing that: made us hang out in the schoolyard untill the whistle blew, and then lining up by class. I do not recall which yard was for which classes, but I do recall that by the time I went to 238, they werent segregating us by boys and girls anymore. The girls in our class were in our line with us.
I recall one classmate, I was in the same class with him from 2-5, all those years. We never spoke one word to each other all those years. Not out of animosity, but because we just never got together.
In the 5th grade, our teacher mentioned, in an offhand comment, that this kid was in the tv show Sesame Street. All us kids stared at him as if he had a second head growing out of his shoulder. I had watched Sesame Street from time to time, but didnt remember him. That afternoon, after school had let out, I went straight home and turned on Sesame Street. About 15-30 minutes had passed and sure enough, there he was with his little brother runinng around in a taped segment. I couldnt believe that I had watched Sesame Street all that time, and had been classmates with this kid all those years, but didnt notice the similarity between him and one of the kids on that show up untill now. On subsequent shows I watched as he appeared in other segments of the program.
“I remember there was a real small park called Sgt. Joyce Kilmer Square at the intersection of Kings Highway, Quentin Rd. and E. 12th St.”
Yep, that small park was there when I was a kid, and, going by gogle street view, its still there today.
“E. 12th St. did not have brownstones in the same sense as in Manhattan or Brooklyn Heights.”
Okay, my place was a Brooklyn type brownstone. :–)
“These were 1 family attached homes made of brick with steps & porches.”
Again, here is my old place:
This is not a one family house. This is a 2 family apartment house. The same with the places on either side. (I ought to know, I’ve seen them from the inside as well as the outside, as I made friends with the people who lived in them).
Here is how its listed on NYC property website:
Building Class: B1 – Two-family dwelling
Construction Type: Brick
Year Built: 1910
Exterior Wall: Masonry
According to that site, the current worth of that property is 676 thousand. It certainly doesnt look like its worth that much and I wonder IF it still is infested with cockroaches.
“On the corner of E. 12th St. and Ave. P was a Jewish Center where I would go to play Bingo with my mother”
The Jewish center I remember. I went inside all of a couple of times. I mostly played outside it. We kids loved the front steps, which sometimes we wouldnt bother going up or down. We pretty much would try to lift ourselves up, or climbed down from, the landing, without using the steps.
Ahh, the Avalon. I recall seeing the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (my Grandfather took me) many years ago at a theater somewhere on Kings Highway, somewhere before Ocean Avenue, but I knew it wasnt the Kingsway. And I didnt remember the name of the theater. I recall that the location was replaced with a pharmacy, and it took me some research to finally find the name of this theater: The Avalon. I lived not too far away, on East 12 street. I was still young when the theater was closed, and even though I RARELY went to the Avalon (saw only a handful of movies there, and Willy Wonka is the only one I can remember seeing at the Avalon), I was saddened to see it go.
By the way Broadwaychris, you write: “Like BdwyPhil, I too worked there in the late 70’s, early 80’s as an usher, I ‘barked’, was ‘head usher’ and had the time of my life there. Someone who commented about seeing "old costumes” from the backstage area being tossed into dumpsters is talking out of their tukkus- there were no ‘old costumes’ anywhere in that theatre"
Could it be that was because the “old costumes” had been thrown out long before you first began working there? After all, you mention working there in the late 70s-early 80s, and the guy who claimed to have thrown out old costumes didnt give a date as to when he worked there. The theater opened in 1921, a time when they, among other movie theaters, showed live vaudeville acts as well as movies.
What I’m curious about is what kind of vaudeville acts appeared at the Kingsway (any famous ones like Fanny Brice, WC Fields, the Marx Brothers, Ed Wynn, etc), and when the Kingsway stopped having live vaudeville acts altogether, and just showed movies.
PS: The location of my old apartment (we lived on the second floor of the BROWNSTONE), is East 12 street, between Avenue P and Quentin Road
“bmovies seems to have status issues,”
What are status issues? If thats anything like calling me a liar, I don’t appreciate it. (Someone from Brooklyn went to College, and it wasnt me)
“that aside, it wasn’t a ‘very poor’ neighborhood”
It sure as hell was. I was poor, my downstairs neighbors were poor, my family, and the downstairs neighbors were welfare cases. Alot of the people in the apartment buildings near the corners were poor (one family down the block I recall I was friends with. They had mattresses on the floor, no beds. Very little furniture. Even we welfare cases had more furniture. And as for toys for their kids, I dug into my toy collection so that they could have some. Over time they would add some furniture here and there to their apartment). The kids around the corner were poor, etc. Alot of people on the block were struggling by. There were some homeowners (with single family homes) on the block, but most people were renters. Not all, but alot of people on my street didnt have much money, if any at all.
I do not know what’s the financial makeup of the neighborhood today, but back then it was POOR, we were POOR. The fact that this was the recession era 70s didnt help either.
“and there aren’t any brownstones on 12th St or in the general vicinity.”
The hell there isnt. My home was indeed a brownstone. Well, I COULD be wrong in describing it as a brownstone, but when I was living there, thats how I heard the adults (my mother, her friends, etc) refer to it.
Here’s a description of a brownstone:
Here’s a pic of my old place (the one in the center) on East 12 street:
Here’s a close up:
The cement strip between the first and second floor is where the terrace used to be. The window on the left was where the doorway to the terrace was, but obviously it was replaced with a window. I was still living there when the landlord had the terrace demolished. I never heard the reason why he did it, but my best guess is that he did it for safety reasons. The terrace was made of cement, and the posts supporting it was made of wood, which was rotting away. I assume that he thought it was cheaper to have the terrace removed than to have the support posts replaced.
Under the support posts was a low brick wall (kind of like the one right next door dividing the two porches), now replaced by that metal fence on the front porch. When we moved out, the terrace was gone, but the low brick wall was still there.
It also STILL has the same old wooden doors in the entranceway (I heard someone once claim that those doors were around 100 years old. I kind of doubt that, but they sure did look it)
Is that or isnt that a brownstone? And if it isnt a brownstone, then what the hell kind of building can it be called? Or are you going, “I’ll be damned. A brownstone on East 12 street!”
Here’s another small part of the neighborhood, the corner of East 12th street and Quentin road. It’s now a dance studio, but it used to be, IIRC, a nightclub/disco.
I used to play handball against its wall on the East 12 street side. Even the graffiti looks familiar. (could it be that they never cleaned up the graffiti after 30 years?)
This location, east 12 street between Quentin and Kings Highway, of the EB Games store, used to be a Mens clothing store (I do not recall the name of it):
In the old clothing store, John Travolta made a personal appearance, either that or he was just shopping for clothes. This was around the time when his tv series Welcome Back Kotter was still on the air. I do not recall if this was before, during, or after his movie Saturday Night Fever came out. In any case, despite his superstar status, never having watched Welcome Back Kotter, I really didnt know or care who he was, but the rest of the neighborhood seemed to be intrigued. The front of the store was mobbed. People were even climbing up on the traffic light to get a better look into the store.
Parked across the street on 12th near the corner of Quentin, right across from the nightclub, was a fancy white Cadillac (I THINK it was a Cadillac, a Cadillac El Dorado). I was told that this was John Travolta’s car, but strangely, no one really bothered to come near it even though it wasnt guarded. Being a poor neighborhood, this kind of fancy car was never seen before parked on our street that I can recall. It was a convertible, the top was down, and in the front passenger seat was a large pink panther doll wearing big giant sunglasses. Attached to the trunk of the car were various cartoon character magnets. Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, etc. One of the kids in the neighborhood dared me to steal some of the magnets. But I didnt have the guts. Imagine what those magnets would get on ebay these days? “Magnets stolen from John Travolta’s car 30 something years ago!”.
Months afterward, every so often when I would pass by the front entrance of the clothing store, I would look in and see an autographed photo of John Travolta hanging inside.
The neighborhood on East 12 street hasn’t changed much over the years.
Lastly, the school I went to from 2nd to 5th grade, PS 238:
Those two photos show the East 9th side. I know that the front entrance is on East 8th, but alot of us kids entered and exited the building on the East 9th side. In all the years I went to that school, I hardly recall entering or leaving the building through the East 8th side. So my memories are basically on the East 9th side.
Yeah, ALOT of the old movie theaters in Brooklyn have long since closed. The Midwood is closed, The Nostrand is closed, the Marboro, the Kingsway, etc., etc.
However, according to this website, the Kent (on Coney Island Avenue, near the corner of Avenue H) is still open. Apparently its known for showing Woody Allen films. I saw the Woody Allen film “Zelig” there somewhere around the early 80s, among a couple other films. When I went there, it seemed to be run by a family. The Kent looked kind of run down and didnt seem to sell many tickets. And the location of the theater didnt seem to be a good one. So at the time I thought it wouldnt be long before the Kent went out of business. Shows what I know, as the Kent has so far outlasted the Midwood and the Kingsway, among many other theaters.
East Coast Rocker, this picture was posted back on 2006:
Apparently it’s a Walgreens on the first floor and on the second floor is Touro College. Doing a google search confirms that both the Walgreens and Touro college are still there now in 2008.
I’ve also done a street view on google maps. I lived only a couple blocks away (on East 12 street) from the Kingsway. My family moved into the neighborhood in 1975. We moved away in Feb. 1981 when I was just 12 years old. Damn, but its nice to look at my old neighborhood, and see what it looks like today. Brings back alot of nostalgic memories. My old apartment (a two family apartment house brownstone) is still there, and hardly changed. A few cosmetic changes were made. For example, a metal fence has replaced a low brick wall. The tree and rose bushes on the front lawn has been removed. Other than that, its still the same. The houses on either side has also not changed. Though, I wonder if my old place still has masses of cockroaches and a couple of mice still infesting the place.
It was always a very poor area, so its no wonder that very few, if any, cosmetic changes were made over the years. I guess the residents and property owners cant afford to make real changes to their places on that street.
The neighborhood I eventually moved away to, was a little more upper class. People in my new neighborhood had money. They owned their own homes, either owned their own businesses, or were very high up on the ladder for the businesses they worked for. I lived there for almost 15 years before moving away again to a new place. Looking at that old neighborhood of mine, that one has changed ALOT since I moved. I hardly recognize the old place I once lived in as well as the houses on either side, not to mention the rest of the neighborhood! :–) There, the residents have the money to completely renovate their homes inside and out.
OverCertified wrote on Jan 16, 2006: “Then, crazy eddie moved into the Coney Island Avenue location, which most people belived (incorrectly) to be the first store – which was directly across the street from the theater”
I remember that store. I remember when they first opened that store on coney Island avenue. I couldnt have cared less about the grand opening, but my mother heard that they were giving away free stuff (caps, t shirts, etc), so she sent me to grab what I could. A guy was standing on top of a van, with boxes of the freebies, encouraging the enormous crowd to yell “CRAZY EDDIE! CRAZY EDDIE!”, after which he would throw some stuff to the crowd. Me, being a little kid, couldnt get anything because I was surrounded by fully grown adults who were much taller than me and managed to grab everything in mid air, long before they could get anywhere within reach of my hands. I came home empty handed.
I also remember the Kingsway. From 1975-1981, I lived only a couple blocks away. I remember seeing a Pink Panther movie (cant recall which one) there and in the lobby they were selling plastic pink panther dolls, which my father bought one for me and one for my sister. I also recall seeing the Goldie Hawn movie Private Benjamin there. And “Who is killing the great chefs of Europe”, and, after I had moved away, seeing Purple Rain there ( a couple of female teens were harassing me, so I moved up to the balcony to get away from them). I also recall one time, when the movie let out from upstairs, one guy came out of the crowd coming down the stairs, and promptly ran to sneak in to see one of the other movies that was playing downstairs (Kramer vs. Kramer)
One time, I went with a friend to see a movie there (cant recall what movie we wanted to see) which was playing in one of the theaters upstairs, and the old lady usherette refused to allow us and the other theater patrons to go up. She made us all wait in the lobby for a while. I cant recall the reason why. Was it filled to capacity upstairs? Was the first showing not yet over? In any case, me and my friend passed the time waiting to be allowed upstairs by occasionally glancing through the glass window in the door that led to another theater where a movie was being shown.
We didnt stand there with our noses pressed up against the glass, and watched the movie in its entirety. No, all we did was give an occasional glance from where we stood. A second here, a second there. And my friend bought himself a tub of popcorn from the conecession stand
Finally the usherette let the crowd go upstairs, except for my friend and I. She stopped us, and told us that we had already watched a movie, and insisted that we now leave the theater. She kicked us out. No refund either. My friend and I went to my house, and my mother saw that we were home too early and asked what happened. I told her the whole thing, and she led us back to the theater where she spoke to the manager who promptly let us back in to see the movie we paid to see.
Wow. Just for fun I was googling my old neighborhoods in Brooklyn (No, I didnt live in Bensonhurst) and looking at what they look like now using the “street views” in the map section of google. Out of curiosity, I also looked up the neighborhoods of some old friends. Some of which lived in Bensonhurst. Eventually I fell upon this site.
One friend lived only a few blocks away from the old Marboro theater. The both of us were quite the movie fanatics (I’m still a fanatic about movies). I would take the bus into his neighborhood at least once a week (mid 1970s-mid 1980s) and we would go to one of the several movie theaters that still existed in Bensonhurst. Mostly we went to the Marboro theater.
I remember the little lunchonette next door. My friend insisted that I try their egg cream, saying it was the best (It was good, but it didnt really taste any different from all the other egg creams I’ve had all over Brooklyn). I remember that the Elliot Gould, Shelley Winters movie, Over The Brooklyn Bridge (working title: My Little Shiksa) was filmed in the lunchonette next door. The movie company also had to shut down the Marboro even though they werent filming there. I assume they needed the space in front of the theater for their moviemaking equipment and crew. (While I never saw Shelley Winters, I did manage to catch a glimpse of Elliot Gould). I also do recall on the Marboro marquee, advertising the midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show. (I was too young to be out at midnight, so I wouldnt get to see that movie, at home on my VCR, untill they released it on videotape for the first time many years later)
Anyways, its kind of SAD to hear what happened to that theater. Reading all these posts on this board, from its closing, to its neglect and disrepair, to its ownership changing hands, to its final demolition. Plus seeing those photos before and after the demolition. A very sad ending to a very nice movie theater.
Having seen many movies in many different theaters in Brooklyn, I cant exactly remember the names of each and every movie I saw there. But I do recall seeing SOME blockbusters of the 1970s: Star Wars, Superman, Grease, etc. And some cult horror films from the 1980s like “Sleepaway Camp”.
I wrote in my blog about one of my eperiences that took place in the Marboro theater here: