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While Columbia University owned the land, their midtown campus was actually further east on Madison Avenue. Leasing the land to Rockefeller, Jr was a way to finally start making some money off property that was never developed to its full potential.
The area where the Associated Press Building (including the Newsreel/Guild Theatre) was an empty lot until it opened in 1938. The only thing on the lot prior to the building of the structure was the truck ramp that goes down to the lower levels of the Rockefeller Center. The theatre was built into the curve of the ramp structure.
I was the last General Cinema manager to run the theatre. Closing night was very sad for the staff.
I started with lenny Edwards. He was great to work for. Really knew is stuff. So was Bob Fitz in the booth.
A lot of great memories from that place. The monthy Lady’s Day movie
You would have to pay a fee to use any of the photos they have. But you should probably contact them to discuss what you are looking for.
They may another option for you. Hope that answeres the question.
When I had access to the archives, I only saw the binders with pictures of the theater. I don’t recall seeing any of pictures of the stage lifts in action, but would not doubt that they are there. As for floorplans and architectural drawings, I did not see them, although I did not have access to an adjoining room. I would seem logical that they would have the the Associate Architects original plans of the theater.
According to Daniel Ockrent, author of Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Edward Durell Stone was not involved in the design of the Center Theater (RKO Roxy). Eugene Schoen was the interior designer of the the theater (after he came in second to Donald Deskey on the interior design of the Music Hall.)
Christine Rousel is the archivist of Rockefeller Center. The archives has many binders of photos of the Center Theater.
Didn’t the stage end up at Bob Jones University when the theater wqas demolished?
Not that there’s anything wrong with the Ziegfeld, but the Music hall is the better theatre.
Tishman-Speyer finally unveiled the new website for Rockefeller Center. A major improvemnt over the old site. (Even if there are some items that the proofreader missed – They still have the long-gone 9 train stoping nearby.) Still, worth checking out.
Interesting comment about TKTS. Since I work in Times Sqaure and walk past the (new) TKTS booth all the time, I have never seen the Christmas Spectacular available on the discount board. The last I heard, Radio City does not belong to the TDF (Theater Development Fund), the group that operates the booth. It work be great if they did.
This such a great thing to do. I worked at both Menlo Park & Blue Star as assistant manager (with Tony Bryla & John Bortula). In fact, I was the manager, from the old Brunswick Square Twin, sent over the close Menlo. Both were such great theaters. Menlo was the last of the movie palaces for central Jersey. To bad the mall was in a hurry to tear us down.
I also managed at the old Essex Green Triplex, Morris County Mall Twin and Bridgewater. Towards the end of my time with GCC, I was sort of a guest manager at a number of theaters in New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania, while officially managing Brunswick Square (with Bob Fitz in the booth – Wednesdays were pizza day for us.)
Speaking of Rockefeller Center, Tishman Speyer did spend a lot of money for upgrades. Unfortunately, all the street vendors and pedi-cab drivers do take away from the luster that is Rock Center. In the old days, management would never have allowed any of that.
Sad to see, however, that Tishman has virtually ignored Rockefeller Center’s 75th anniversary. Other than a small display in the Concourse, that was briefly up during the summer, Rock Center’s anniversary has gone by un-noticed. Only the Skyscraper Museum did anything to mark the anniversary with a symposium at the Donnell Library earlier this year. Rock Center’s website was to be renovated last May, but even that still hasn’t happened.
As part of the Open House New York weekend, I did the tour of the Music Hall with Hugh Hardy, the architect behind the 1999 renovation. It was a very interesting tour, even if he stated that Cablevision bought the Music Hall, itself, as opposed to just the production company, Radio City Entertainment. I commented to the tour guide that it was shame that they never mention the old Center Theater. She quite agreed.
According to Daniel’s Okrent’s Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Edward Durrell Stone was the architect of the theaters.
When I visited the Archives Office at Rockefeller Center, I saw many photos of the theaters with his name as the architect.
I heard from a contact at Rockefeller Center that plans are in the works for their 75th anniversary. Hopefully, they will includes this theatre in their celebrations.
Officially, the RKO Roxy/Center & Radio City Music Hall were designed by the Associated Architects. Edward Durrell Stone was the staff architect that was assigned the job of designing the theaters. Unfortunately, he was fired before the theaters opened due to the fact he took an outside job while on the Rockefeller Center payroll.
While Donald Deskey handled the interior decortaion of the Music Hall, Eugene Schoen had that job at the RKO Roxy/Center.
I was really disappointed that the New York Times did not dedicated its entire The City section of the Sunday paper to the 75th anniversary of the both theaters, 2 weeks ago. When the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings turn 75, the entire section was dedictaed to those great New York City icons. Hopefully they are planning on honoring all of Rockefeller Center this year. The RCA/GE Building will be 75 this spring.
Today makes the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the RKO Roxy, with THE ANIMAL KINGDOM.
Most tourist that I come into contact with usually ask for “Avenue of the Americas”, especially business people loooking for a corporate office on the avenue.
Most likely, Nautica, and it successor store, Anthropologie, had to keep the marquee and box office because of the landmarking of the old Associated Press Building, as part of the overall landmarking of Rockefeller Center.
The SE corner of the 50th Street and 6th Avenue (as we locals call it) is occupied by a Nine West store. Tishman-Speyer had planned to tear down this building along with its conterpart at 49th & 6th for new entrances to the concourse. Those plans, fortunatly, those plans changed.
When we played INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, we played it on both screens. Cinema 1 was in 70mm, while Cinema 2 was in 35mm.
Jerry Kampo: Would to see those pics of the theater on its last day. Abe & Joe were great guys to work with.
Filmakr1 – The manager of the theatre back in the EMPIRE/JEDI days was Tony Rizzo. He passed away about a year after JEDI was there. Would like to see the pics of the theatre. –
Many Tony Awards presentations where held at the old Astor Hotel Ballroom. For many years, the Broadway Ballroom at the Marquis hosted the post-Tony Awards banquet.
The ballroom at the Astor Hotel was world-famous, but management at the Marquis in 1985 didn’t want to name one of the rooms after another hotel, even if that hotel was no longer there. The same reson there is not a room named after the Piccadilly Hotel that stood between the Music Box & the Morosco. They equated Times Square with theaters, not other hotels.
In the 70’s, the block opposite Bloomingdale’s on Third Avenue was called “The Block”. Producers wanted their big pictures to open at either Cinema I & II or at the Baronet/Coronet. New York Magazine did a feature story on “The Block” back in 1978. The article also rated most of the big theatres at that time. Almost, if not all of them are gone now, except Radio City.
The Astor Plaza Building was already named for the hotel. The powers that be at the time decided to name the ballroom after the theatre.
Warren & Mikeoaklandpark â€" Thank you for taking the time to actually read my inquiry. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I will have a base as to where to look up the information that I am interested in. Mike, you certainly went out of your way to include a list, which is most appreciated, but you didnâ€™t really have to do that. I am more than willing to do the research myself.
I am brainstorming with some other associates, who also have an interest in the history of Times Square, on ways to enhance the character of the building, which is finishing up a major renovation. The meeting rooms are named for Broadway theaters, playwrights and various areas of the city. The Astor Ballroom is the only one named for an old Broadway movie theatre. (After it did time as a legit house.) This is an in-house project that Marriott International (there is no Marriott Corporation), is not involved in. (Much the same as in-house projects I did when was managing for General Cinema.)
FYI, the loss of the Astor, Victoria, Helen Hayes, Morosco & Bijou Theaters is attributed to John Portman & Associates, not Marriott. Portman developed, designed and built the hotel and hired Marriott to manage the building. (The Nederlanders operate the Marquis Theater.) Host Marriott later bought the hotel from Portman, at which time it started, with The New York Times and others, the Times Square Business Improvement District. (Now know as the Times Square Alliance.)
By the way BoxOfficeBill, everyone on this site should know that Deborah Kerr, who had to wait until 1993 to get a Life Achievement Award from the Academy, was the star of BLACK NARCISSUS.
Anyone have an idea where I can get a list of major films that played at both the Astor & Victoria theatres? Already know about GONE WITH THE WIND, THE BIG PARADE, THE BROADWAY MELODY and SPELLBOUND, but would like to find out the names other major films that opened at the 2 theatres. Its for a project we are working on at the New York Marriott Marquis. One of our ballrooms is named for the Astor Theatre. Thanjs in advance.