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“Replaced by a black skyscraper” This would also apply to the Roxy and Capitol, three of the finest and most famous movie palaces ever built, denied to future generations through sheer greed of developers and a city administration blind to it’s unique heritage.
Like Justin Whitfield I wish I had a substantial amount of money to donate towards the restoration of what has to be one of the top 5 or 6 Movie Palaces of all time. In Australia they have managed to save the Melbourne Regent (auditorium although not as large, based on the much lamented Capitol/New York, my all time favourite) The Sydney State with one of the finest lobbies anywhere and of course the wonderful Capitol in Sydney. The loss of the Brisbane Regent was a disgrace, arguably the finest overall in the country.
Looking again at this vintage photo of the main lobby confirms my opinion that the Capitol was the finest of all the great movie palaces. No kitsch here, just the best of taste. An outrage that this beauty was not preserved for future generations to marvel at.
Well said Tinseltoes there are some great photos of the magnificent auditorium before it was “covered” that would be much more appropriate. After all, the new look only lasted for a few years anyway!
To think that the Rivoli was still in operation when I first went to NYC in 1971 makes me sad that I didn’t go there, at least I would have seen one of the legendary showcases before they were all destroyed! I know nothing stays the same in this world but I sometimes get very nostalgic for the great days of going to the movies, I’m just old enough to remember how great it was compared to today’s banality.
Thanks for the info.guys. Obviously I was wrong about the Capitol and it figures HTWWW would play there as it was an MGM film, though I think Loew’s and Metro were completly separate corporations by then.
I remember “How the West was Won” in Cinerama (3 strip) played at the Plaza Theatre, Sydney, Australia for about 2 years, a record run. Which theatre played it in NYC?
I’m guessing it was probably the Strand/Warner, I don’t think the Capitol ever had the 3 strip Cinerama process.
Of course you are right bigjoe59, when it comes to economics, the Roxy was probably losing money for years before it finally closed. What would have been needed was for it to be adapted for other uses such as happened with the Metropolitan in Boston (now Wang centre) which is also a huge theatre or the Fox in St. Louis/Detroit.
Of course this is the case with Radio City Music Hall so whether NYC could accomodate another huge space like that is open to question. Of course this is all hypothetical now as it’s gone and to quote the late Bob Hope “Once it’s gone it’s gone!”
For me, the great movie palaces were New York, the Capitol and Roxy being the finest. The city lost it’s soul when these wonderful places of mass entertainment were demolished and it’s never been the same since.
No other city on earth could boast so many of the best, yet only the Beacon and Hollywood remain in Manhattan.
Great photo of the most beautiful movie palace of them all. The Capitol was Thomas Lamb’s finest achievement, in my opinion better than the San Francisco Fox as wonderful as that was.
I have to admit to a life long obsession with the legendary New York Roxy ever since,, as a young man I bought a copy of “The best remaining seats” by Ben M. Hall, which was a celebration of the famous theatre just after its unforgivable destruction. I never saw the Roxy and it remains to this day one of my greatest regrets. I’m sure this will be an interesting book.
“The city and the movie palaces have never been the same” quotation from the above description of the Roxy says it all! N.Y.C. had a unique position in the pantheon of world cities and they could not wait to destroy it’s character for just another bland version of glass and steel boxes seen in and 2nd rate place on earth. Just look what is on the site of the legendary movie palace now, a building that could just as well be in a third world country and could disappear overnight without a single word of complaint,such is the banality of what we have today. As long as I live I shall NEVER forgive the perpetrators of such vandalism no matter what the circumstances.
The Stoll was London’s greatest theatre loss especially considering it was unique in being housed in such an outstanding building worthy of protection status even without the theatre inside! London never possessed any really great movie theatres on a par with say the N.Y. Roxy or Capitol but this was it’s finest live theatre.
Just been looking (again) at the photos of the incredible Roxy, makes me so very ANGRY that my and future generations were denied the chance to experience the greatest movie theatre ever built. I would like to personally lynch those responsible but they are probably gone now (to eternal hell, hopefully). New York City lost it’s soul when the great theatres were torn down and it will never be the same again, I’m so depressed that this was allowed to happen.
The restoration of the Rialto is to be applauded but in no way does that “palace” compare to the Uptown, not just in size but in quality of design. Even more important reason to restore the greatest surviving example,(probably) in the world.
So that’s what replaced the wonderful Capitol – a glass box of the kind to be found in any 2n rate city on earth!
The Capitol, on the other hand, was unique to only the greatest cities, like New York used to be.
I agree with Chuck 1231, keep ‘em coming Lost Memory, your contributions are much appreciated!!
I find it very distressing that the future of the Uptown still remains in doubt despite the wonderful efforts of the “friends” to keep it in the public eye.
Having looked extensively in many publications relating to the great movie palaces of the past (I have a first edition of “Best Remaining Seats” plus many other later books) I have concluded that not only is the Uptown the finest survivor in the world of this genre but was without doubt one of the top 3 or 4 movie palaces ever built. To my mind only the New York Roxy and Capitol were better and some would argue the Fox San Francisco, although for me it was a bit too over the top.
Because of its unique status today its demise would rank with the demolition of Penn Station New York in 1963 as one of the greatest acts of public vandalism in American history.
As I don’t live in the U.S. I wonder if someone in New York would be kind enough to post a photo of the building that now occupies the site of the the Roxy. From memory. (quite some years back) I think it is totally nondescript but that one may since have been torn down as well for something else.
leebee60, can you remember the name of the head usherette? Was it by any chance Dallas Hudson?
Feb 13th is an exciting day for all of us interested in the preservation of movie palaces from the great days of Hollywood.
Only wish I could be there to see this wonderful old “palace” brought back to life again. It’s the closest we will ever get to experiencing the now legendary New York Roxy, although quite different in many ways, (and of course smaller) I think it may be the only survivor of the architect Walter Ahlschlager’s contribution to the movie palace phenomenom.
The contrast between photo 1 posted by Lost Memory and the photo posted by Grainger taken last year shows that not only have our movie theatres been wrecked but the city centres as well! Where there was once a handsome Victorian/Edwardian building adjacent to the Odeon we now have some banal ugly bastard projecting out over the road. It’s not really surprising that the old theatres did not survive when the areas where they were built became steadily more and more seedy and unappealing in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and in some places it’s still going on! The once laudable profession of architecture is now one of the most discredited in modern history.
MarkDHite, you are sure right about Pen.Station I can almost not bear to even look at old photos of the gratest transport terminal ever built and never to be equalled for sure.
Also the Capitol, not perhaps as glamorous as the Roxy but more pure in its architectural treatment and certainly, in my opinion,Thomas Lamb’s masterpiece (and that includes the S.F. Fox)
Oh well, there may be a chance of the Brooklyn Paramount coming back to life again and the Beacon, although much smaller is still a gem and will be fantastic once fully restored.
Thanks brucec for the info. on the “Naked City”. I remember seeing the clip of the rotunda years back and have never been able to find out since which film it was from.
I don’t live in the U.S. so didn’t visit the Roxy in my early years but have always considered it (from photos) to be the greatest movie palace of them all and its loss so quickly in the early 60’s has to be forever to the eternal shame of New York City.
The photos posted by ken mc suggest that this was a fine theatre and hopefully someone may come along and revive it before the whole building is demolished through non use.
The restoration of the El Capitan some years back was a real boost for the area and it would be great to see the same here.