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the loew’s pitkin is now slated to be a subsidized unit for over 60 families
Pitkin afficionados and old Brownsvillians, think back. Do you have Pitkin photos, date photos, Brownsville street scenes. My plans for the documentary rests on being able to locate some of these.
Sylvia (Author of Brownsville: The Jewish Years)
Bob Furmanek, I never got your note or Jerry Lewis backstage photos.
I am seriously considering creating a documentary about the rise and fall of the Loew’s Pitkin. It will include stuff about the theater, movies it showed and more importantly, personal memories of experiences at the theater — from dating and “making out” in the balcony, kid stuff, vaudeville shows seen. If you have any tales to tell and/or would like to be interviewed, please write me privately at
for myself and i hope others — now and in the future years. if any of you get to read my book (see amazon) let me know what you think.
it could have been something more than 71 apartments and 70k sf of retail space. i had hoped for a museum — commemorating either/or brownsville history and/or the great movies of yore that glittered here.
as to abe stark, he’s well covered in my book, handing out tickets for ebbetts field and more. hoffman’s cafeteria is also mentioned – it was part of the pitkin avenue scene.
this breaks my heart. have you seen the travesty of architecture that this rehab has come up with?puts me in mind of Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead”.
so that leaves the grandeur that was the low-eez pitkin to memory. i am thankful for the preservation and honor i gave it in my chapter dedicated to the pitkin experience in my book BROWNSVILLE: THE JEWISH YEARS. I include interiors, exteriors, even a picture of the organ and of course, memories of its glory days. If you look at the list of 100 great American films, a chunk of them made their neighborhood first runs here — be it Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Best Years of Our Lives, The Ten Commandments, not to omit great cartoons, the chapters, the Paramount News. If it was worth seeing, I saw it at the Pitkin. Farewell old friend, sylvia (the kid with the four siblings, a big lunch bag for 5, and a big box of nonpareils)
i sometimes heard it pronounced, in the neighborhood as low-eez.
great news — my book, fresh off the presses, which feature an entire chapter on the loew’s pitkin, has gone 5-star.
The Palace secondarily, others (Hopkinson, Stadium, Sutter) are wrapped up in general descriptions.
BTW The cover, is kitzl park (Zion Memorial) backed up by a view of the Legion St. side of the Pitkin.
But the emphasis of the chapter is on the vital role of the Pitkin, and the way it was experienced by Brownsville residents. My aim was, if you had lived it before, to take you back, just short of eating the popcorn and nonpareils. And if you had not, to re-create it for you in as much depth as a printed page could offer.
it’s one of those ideas that alights on different spots.
my book is finally out! and as promised, it features an entire chapter about the loew’s pitkin and other local brownsville cinemas. it talks about the pitkin experience in detail, showcases some photos that round out the impression. thanks to all who shared some of the photos with me. it can be ordered through amazon, or personally through me. here’s my link – View link
Pass the word to cinema lovers, especially those who knew the Loew’s Pitkin in its heyday. Brownsville: The Jewish Years features an entire chapter devoted to the Pitkin experience, complete with photos — developers are lurking, is there still time to declare the structure a national landmark and save it?
the organist who played during intermissions or at vaudeville shows.
i have a photo of henrietta kammern. there’s even a recording on edison of her playing
ouch. it would be great to rescue rehab and turn this building into a museum of brownsville’s unique history and classic film. anybody know how to make this happen??
ps i am preparing my new book Brownsville: The Jewish Years for publication. It has an entire chapter on the LOEW’s PITKIN!!!!!!
Off-topic.Yiddish theater is still alive and well. New Yorkers can check out the Folksbiene, now in its 90th consecutive year, doing productions at the Manhattan JCC.
The radical cinema near Union Square was called The Irving Theater – it was on Irving Place – showed Russian flicks, but also European films like The Last Waltz with Louise Rainer – I used to pass it every weekend during the years I attended Yiddish High School ( mitlshul) held at Washington Irving High School.
kenroe – we saw many films at the Stadium located on Chester off Pitkin Avenue – I especially remember lots of Charie Chan movies there. I would love to see that auditorium photo — can you e-mail it to me at
Anyone got photos of the ambassador???
jhb – was your mother named Sally? That was the name of the matron we kids were so scared of.
we lived on Herzl Street, a block away and the palace was a frequent stop when we didn’t go to the Pitkin.
It showed movies a week later — after the Pitkin. Didn’t remember it having so many seats.
Several comments —
I got to the subway but unable to access the images yet — will work on it.
Schildt in this case is Dutch — my late husband was from Holland — it can mean a picture or a shield in the medieval sense of a coat of arms or it can mean a sign.
I saw your allusion to Hoffman’s — there was a sit-down restaurant and a very popular cafeteria — eating out was not in the family budget, so I think I only ate there once or twice. But of course I passed in front of it thousands of times – there were always people (mainly men) milling in front of it with toothpicks in their mouths. It was a kind of social hangout. And if memory doesn’t fail me, there was an upstairs, which occasionally served as a shul for the High Holy Days.
Henrietta was the continuous live performer — but I do remember there was also vaudeville – I have seen Buck and Bubbles, The Ritz Brothers and I forget who else. What I remember clearly was a marquee sign
5 VAUDEVILLE 5
The vaudeville show, when offered, and the movie line-up were included in the price of admission.
Saturday afternoon was mostly Loew’s Pitkin Day for kids in the neighborhood, unless we were really turned off by the main attraction.
The line-up was normally a main top run movie, followed by a B-movie. There were also serials which we called the “chapters” like “The Perils of Pauline” which featured cliffhanger installments, typically 12, one each weekend. There were the cartoons, specially selected short subjects, travbelogues, and of course the Paramount News. We would show up when the lineup started – around noon – I carried a bag of sandwiches and fruits – along with money for drinks and candy TO SHARE (nonpareils were a favorite) and I doled the food out in bits all through Saturday afternoon. All of this would end about 5- 5:30 when they through the kids out. We sat, all 5 of us, in a special children’s section monitored by a matron and usher. If we wanted to see the main feature over again, we would split up and sneak one by one over to the adults section and glom onto a grown-up, who would agree to say we were with him or her. That way, we could finish by 6:30 or 7, just in time for supper. A great day for 25 cents apiece minus treats.
Kishke King was a place – a deli on Rockaway and Pitkin that sold kishke and knishes (Jewish style – no pork) and foot-long hot dogs. You took your purchases home or ate them in the street — long before fast food. My Kishke King story is about their long-standing promise to give out free foot-long hot dogs if the Dodgers ever won the World Series and I was there the day they made good their promise —a mob scene!!! The lines wound several times around the block.
Would love those photos – might even inspire me to write a sequel — the book contains what photos I could muster including a picture of the Kishke King.
I was born in 1934 at the Brooklyn Women’s Hospital – am the eldest of 5 kids (all still living thank God) – went to PS 175, JHS 84 (my brothers went to JHS 66) then Jeff. Although my sister was able to go to 156, Arthur Summers JHS and then Tilden (the traitor!!).
The book is technically out of print — but the main library at Grand Army Plaza bought a copy when it first came out. I was very proud of that. It was a little like coming home.
Re: Loew’s Ambassador – when we moved to Legion Street it moved into our lives a bit — although we still preferred the Loew’s Pitkin — as I recall the Ambassador it was right under the Saratoga Avenue El station stop and there was a newspaper stand cum candy/soda joint across the street – I read years later that this was the HQ of Murder Inc, but I did often pick up papers, magazines and candy when coming home from the city. (Knew nothing about Murder Inc’s role until years later.)
I remember one movie I saw at the Ambassador — with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant – I think it was called “Indiscreet” – a lighthearted farce.
Glad you are enjoying my trip down memory lane.
We must all be nuts — waxing so nostalgic over a movie theater. But I guess it was such a rich experience, so different from our everyday poverty. Yet, we did have stuff I don’t think inner city communities have today and in abundance – we had the Pitkin, and the other ancillary movies, within walking distance. Each was a window on something better than we had and that I suppose fed optimism. Also, we had an olympic sized outdoor pool at Betsy Head, lush playgrounds at Lincoln Terrance Park, and a rich stream of fascinating retail shops (mostly beyond our means) all along the Avenue. Then there was the HES on Hopkinson. Weddings at various catering halls which meant free live wedding music (klezmer/pop) streaming from their windows in summer. The Stone Avenue Library just for kids. And for a pittance you could catch the bus or IRT and see all of Manhattan, the Bronx, and of course Prospect Park, Ebbetts Field, Coney Island, Brighton Beach. We never lacked for amusement, much of it free, did we?