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Last film I saw here was “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” back in 2014. We were among a handful of people in the audience on a Saturday night around 8:00PM. It was kind of sad.
It’s location coupled with changes in movie going habits over the years spelled The Ziegfeld’s doom as far as being a movie theater. The neighborhood is mostly office towers. Alive during the day, kind of deserted at night.
I’m saddened by its closing but like many others hardly surprised.
In reply to bigjoe59’s reply to my comment on July 28, 2014: I should have further defined my use of the term “off the beaten” path when referring to the Ziegfeld’s location. What I mean is that it is off the beaten path for people seeking a movie or some kind of night life. In NYC, neighborhoods change sometimes within mere blocks of one another. Example: on weekends, Times Square (7th Ave and 47th Street) is jammed but just one block over on 6th, it’s much, much less crowded (and that’s why I always walk over to 6th to get around the crowds). I don’t know what the neighborhood was like when the original Ziegfeld was opened but I would guess it was different than what it is now (likely it was more mixed use: residential, small businesses, nightclubs). Today, it’s pretty much all office space/corporate area and after 5PM or so, it’s kind of quiet (I should know. I worked right around the block from The Ziegfeld for years). Yes, there’s some foot traffic at night but nothing compared to Times Square (not even close) and most of the foot traffic involves people going through the area to other locations. Additionally, there’s really not a lot of residential areas nearby like you see down on 23rd Street which would help a theater like The Ziegfeld to thrive because it would be part of a neighborhood’s identity.
Others are correct that there would be a huge protest if The Ziegfeld were to be closed and demolished.
My father told me that it was difficult to demolish The Ziegfeld theater due to its solid construction. I don’t recall exactly what he said made it so difficult but it had to do with some kind of reinforced concrete (something more elaborate than the steel reinforcement that was/is used). My father worked for Burlington Industries in the 1960s and I believe the construction of its headquarters building was one of the reasons for the old Ziegfeld being demolished so it would make sense that he would know about this.
I saw “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” here on Saturday, July 19th. My two teenage children were with me and I looked forward to showing them a very different kind of theater than the ones they were used to. They were both very impressed by the size and the interior of the Ziegfeld. I was disappointed by the sparse a attendance. Considering that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was the #1 box office movie in the country the weekend we saw it at the Ziegfeld, the theater was nowhere near capacity and it was a 7:00PM showing. The presentation was first rate all the way. The 3D was one of the best I’ve ever seen (and I don’t usually like them) and the sound system was outstanding. I cannot imagine that this theater is profitable. Its location is well off the beaten track. As much as I like the fact that it is not over crowded like the Times Square theaters are, I worry that the lack of attendance dooms this place.
hotwaterbottle: thank you for answering my questions about exactly where the theater was located and when it closed. On that note: Paramus or the area of Bergen in general (Paramus, Fair Lawn, Rochelle Park, etc) could use another theater and the Bergen Mall’s location would be a good place. It likely would not detract much from the Garden State Plaza theater provided the movies shown were not exactly the same.
I hope the articles in the NY papers don’t spell the end for the Ziegfeld. It might’ve been mentioned before but its location doesn’t help it. It’s considerably far north of the Times Square area, smack in the middle of what is now (and has been) mostly a neighborhood populated by large office buildings and is situated right in the middle of 54th Street. Stroll up and down 6th or 7th Avenues and you’d really never know it was there. Am I wrong?
A couple of questions about this theater:
Was this theater located on the north (Route 4) or south side (Spring Valley Ave.)parking lots of the mall (or neither)?
What year did the theater close? I don’t see any mention in any of the comments about it?
I have nothing new to add, no insights and I thought I might have posted something on this theater years ago but all I can say is that I’m appalled that this theater was demolished the way it was. Protests likely would have led to nothing but what a loss!
I have walked and driven by this structure countless times over the years and I never noticed the words “The Play House” on it. This is what makes this site so good. Thanks for sharing this.
Saw “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” here Saturday night (Feb. 4, 2012). The theater is decently maintained. The theater we saw the movie in was #9. Ok size but the projection was excellent and the usher played “host” for the audience announcing the film’s director and his credits (nice touch) and asking that no one use a cellphone or other devices (nice touch to do this personally rather than through a screen presentation request). I have a trouble with these “stacked” theaters in the city, though. I know that it is likely the only way to handle this but the schlep up all those elevators is an odd experience and it felt “lonely” at first because the floors were so under populated (but the theater was packed). Compare this to a place out in the ‘burbs like Paramus’ theater and the experience is completely different. Lastly, I have to agree with some of folks posting for this theater that I was mightily impressed by the behavior of the audience. Not a single cell phone out during the movie, no one talking. Nice.
One last comment: when it was made into a triplex and then a six screen multiplex, it was one of the better reconstruction jobs. When the six screen facility opened, it was actually extremely nice though the theaters were small.
Another great LI movie theater gone. This closing really hits home with me because after all these years, this theater is the one I remember the most and where I really fell in love with movies. When it was a single screen theater, it was not ornate like the older theaters built in the 20s but there was just something spectacular about it. The front entrance had a really long marquee that ran along the entire north side facing Sunrise Highway. There was this beautiful rich red tile at the entrance. For some reason, going to a movie here really meant something to me. I can still recall the excitement of going there and just seeing the theater made me feel good. It’s a fond memory that I suspect a lot of us here on this site can relate to. I’ve probably related the movies I saw here in other posts but the two that stand out were “Mary Poppins” during its re-release in (I think) 1974 and “Jaws” in 1975. We waited on line for both movies and I remember everyone in the theater screaming when the guys head rolls out of the boat in “Jaws”. To hear an audience that large collectively scream is something wonderful.
I belong to the 24 Hour Fitness that now occupies what was this theater. It’s nice to see that the site is being used as opposed to just rotting like it has for a few years after it closed and the designers did not do a wholesale gutting. They’ve incorporated much of the main lobby (with the two flanking stairs that led up to the balcony sections) and the large theater space intact. If you remember this theater’s layout, you will be able to see it in the gym. I would have liked it if the designers of the gym had paid homage to what the space was maybe by using movie posters or something but they have not. The closest thing to it is the use of the upper balcony space for the cardio. The original slope of the balcony is still there and it looks down onto the large basketball area which was the main theater. You can literally see how good the sight lines were. It’s so high that it can be a bit dizzying.
Years before this theater closed, my Mother told me that it had been a TSS (Time Square Stores). I found it interesting that a store would close and be replaced by a movie theater. Nowadays, it’s the other way around. The link in this post shows the TSS store circa 1940 and it is right where this theater used to be.
Allen’s documentary on PBS was why I came to look at the write-ups about the Midwood. I’ve been on this site numerous times and lived in Brooklyn for a short period in the early 90s but I never checked out the Midwood until now. Allen’s recollections of the Midwood in particular and Brooklyn in general were kind of mind-blowing. A time and a place gone but it sounded amazing.
While hiking in Buttermilk Falls County Park a couple of weeks ago our group could clearly see the remains of this drive-in. The screen is still up and you can see the parking field that radiates out from it. I did not see a marquee on Route 303 for it but I could have missed it.
Never mind. I found it listed on this site. It’s actually in Blauvelt. How could I ever think a movie theater could escape a mention on this site? My apologies. My God this site is thorough.
While hiking in Buttermilk Falls County Park a couple of weeks ago, our group could clearly see the remains of a drive in that was right across the street from the park. This has to be the West Nyack theater that Tom Davis mentions? The screen is still up and you can see how the parking field radiates out from the screen. There’s no marquee or anything on Route 303 so unless you climbed to the height that we did, you would not know it was there. Can anyone confirm this is the West Nyack Drive-in?
In a February 16, 1986 article in the NYTimes that I was directed to by another “Cinema Treasures” poster, another movie theater (a precursor to the one built on Merrick Road and called the “Century’s Baldwin” in this site) is mentioned. Here is the paragraph from the article that mentions it:
“The Baldwin was not the village’s first movie house. A retired woman who lives near us remembers a store-sized theater on Grand Avenue around the corner from Howie’s. ‘'It cost a quarter,’‘ she said. ’‘My girlfriends and I saved up all week for Saturday. The piano player was always late and when he did get there he’d sit and study the music like it was a concerto or something and we’d clap and clap until he got started and the movie started. I had this awful crush on William S. Hart!’'
A very interesting image from the Museum of the City of NY archives. This shows the foundations of the Roxy as it was being constructed. You can clearly see the diagonal layout that has been mentioned many times on this site.
Photo of the exterior, 1916.
Came across this image from the Museum of the City of NY website. Hope the link works but if not, they’ve got a nice collection. The caption under the photo reads “Interior of Corse Payton’s Theater showing the audience at full capacity.” Year is 1902
I had no idea a third theater ever existed in Rockville Centre. I thought it was always the Fantasy and then the twin on Sunrise Hwy and that was it. Amazing.
What’s happening with this theater? I grew up on LI and now live in NJ and I thought I read that this theater was going to be redone. Is that still planned? This theater is in a good location.
It amazes me that as late as December 1972, these kinds of reserved seat bookings were still going on. With the lack of theaters and the crowds that go to them (especially for an opening weekend for an “anticipated” film) you’d think they’d start this kind of thing up again. Why not? 3D is back…