Route 59 Theater

320 West Route 59,
Nanuet, NY

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Route 59 Theater

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Located in the Thruway Plaza, it had a red tile facade with aluminum 50’s lettering on it, very period and probably seen as ugly and outdated when it closed in the mid 80’s. Beyond the facade, not much is memorable about this site, currently an American General Financial office.

Contributed by Michael Sheehy

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

JeffD on May 3, 2007 at 8:31 pm

I would disagree that there’s not much memorable aout this site. Yes, externally it may have been a typical 1960s cinderblock “Box”, but I always thought the interior, albeit fairly “simple”, was very nicely done, and the layout was such that the people in the theatre itself were never disturbed by anyone in the lobby (due to a wall and a “lounge” area separating the two. Most importantly is that the
PRESENTATION QUALITY at the Rt.59 theatre was always IMPECCABLE in every respect, at least back in the 60s – early 70s, no matter if they were doing a 70mm ‘Roadshow’ engagement or a normal 35mm run
(although quality was simply a matter of course even at most of the
“regular” neighborhood theatres back then).

I have many fond memories of going to see films at the Rt.59, especially their showing of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, back in ‘68. It WAS a “Cinerama’ theatre insofar as the screen was most definitely curved
but, to my recollection at least, the place was never designed or equipped to show the original true 3-Strip format. Still, the 59's
showing of "2001” was probably the single most powerful film presentation I have ever seen anywhere to this day. I saw it there 3 times and it was basically burned into my mind & senses, even now so many years later. When it was re-released in 70mm a few years later, I went to see it at the Ziegfeld in NYC. Coincidentally, the screen at the Zeigfeld was about the same size as the one at Rt.59, (50 feet) but the Zieg’s was flat and its auditorium was more than TWICE the size of the ‘59’s, so while the technial presentaion at the Ziegfeld was of its usual perfection, the experience of “2001"
(and other films) at the Rt.59 theatre just BLEW the Ziegfeld away, since one was so much more "enveloped” by the screen at the '59.

Anyway, the Rt.59 theatre retained its curved screen up until sometime in the late 70s. The theatre was never twinned (with respect to Lost Memory’s post) and remained a single screen venue up until it closed in the late 80s — although there was a noticable decline in presentation quality in ALL respects during the Rt.59 theatre’s last years.

Sorry for going on so long, but I still very much miss this theatre, at least the way it was many years ago. I do have a recent photo of the exterior back wall (basically all that remains) if anyone’s interested though. ;)

shoeshoe14 on September 4, 2007 at 9:32 pm

I was on a bicycle trip and passed by it yesterday. You can’t miss it as it’s on the main drag and the back of the screen is right there by the road, with 30 ft of clearance. (It’s technically in Nanuet with the Spring Valley town line sign bordering the property). Behind it to the right, some tractor trailers park there. It’s dirt and gravel on both sides into it and in the back you can see all the car speaker devices still there in rows. It seemed a bit small for a drive-in.

JeffD on September 5, 2007 at 2:16 am

Shoeshoe14 –

You must be referring to the old Rockland Drive-In — NOT the Route 59 theatre. The drive-in was/is a few miles west up the road from the former Rt.59 theatre we’re talking about.
Best, Jeff D.

shoeshoe14 on September 5, 2007 at 11:31 pm

I know that one was on West Maple, but I was on Route 59.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 30, 2007 at 2:22 am

Here is a 1963 ad for “How the West Was Won” in 3-strip Cinerama at the Route 59. Notice the date at the top. Most likely this big premiere never took place that night.

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kencmcintyre on September 30, 2007 at 2:48 am

It’s a good bet that all theater were closed that night, as well as in the rest of the country.

kencmcintyre on January 8, 2008 at 2:43 am

This site has some interior photos:

Coate on April 30, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Anyone have access to microfilm of THE JOURNAL-NEWS or another Rockland County newspaper? I wish to verify the closing date of the ROUTE 59’s run of “This Is Cinerama” and the title of the film that followed it. (I believe “This Is Cinerama” premiered there on Feb. 12, 1964.)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 9, 2008 at 2:16 am

“This is Cinerama” closed here on 3/10/64. “Seven Wonders of the World” opened on 3/11/64:

View link

Followed a month later by “Cinerama Holiday” on 4/8/64:

View link

Less than a month after that, “South Seas Adventure” on 4/28/64:

View link

By July 1964, the theater was showing the movie version of “McHale’s Navy” – quite a comedown from the glories of Cinerama:

View link

Coate on May 9, 2008 at 8:14 am

Thanks, Bill!

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