City Cinemas Cinema 1, 2, and 3

1001 Third Avenue,
New York, NY 10021

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Cinema 1, 2, 3 and Coronet 1 & 2 - 2001

Viewing: Photo | Street View

City Cinemas' Cinema 1, 2, and 3 was just two doors down from the now vanished baronet & Coronet and a block away from the Crown Gotham. Today, both of those other theaters are gone, while this venerable art house, which opened as a twin in 1962, soldiers on.

Contributed by Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 182 comments)

wmjp
wmjp on August 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm

For Dave-Bronx — I’m finishing a book that deals in part with Ben Schlanger, so I was interested in a post you did years ago about architectural drawings. Plus you also wrote there was an intentional connection to Lincoln Center, something I recently concluded, but have no evidence for other than the fact that Schlanger did work on a number of bldgs. in Lincoln Center. Is there any way I could possibly see the materials you have. Thanks!

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on August 18, 2014 at 11:12 pm

wmjp: The materials I have are the photographs posted in the photos section here, a project manual and a set of architectural and mechanical drawings for the alterations of 1988. I do not have the drawings for the original construction in 1961, Mr. Geller had them as reference for “as built” conditions and would bring both sets [1961 and 1988] when we had owner/architect/contractor meetings, and when he visited the site several times a week while the project was underway and I looked at them several times when the original conditions differed from the 1988 drawings. The project manual and drawings I have are labeled: Abraham W. Geller & Associates 24 West 25th St. NY NY 10010 To the best of my recollection the 1961 drawings were labelled in a similar manner, and had the NYC Dept. Of Buildings approval seal affixed, making Geller the architect of record. I dont recall seeing Mr. Schlanger listed, but then I never had those drawings in my possession to study as I did the 1988 drawings. Mr. Geller did speak of him, though.

I’m sure Mr. Geller has gone to the big drafting table in the sky, as he was quite elderly in 1988, and I never heard if there was a successor firm that would have his files.

Mr. Schlanger was involved in many theaters including the Murray Hill, Sutton and Beekman for Rugoff, the original Framingham Cinema in Boston for GCC and ‘The Cinema’ in D.C. to name a few.

Regarding the Lincoln Center connection, I read something about that here too, but I did not post that info. I was unaware of it until I read it here.

wmjp
wmjp on August 19, 2014 at 9:12 am

dave-bronx: Thanks for the info. Columbia U has the Geller papers, so I can look for more there. You might be interested to know that the initial announcement of Cinema I/II in the Times listed Schlanger as the sole architect. I suspect that Geller was brought in later to attract attention to the distinctness of the building as architecture — it did end up getting covered in a number of architecture journals. My guess is that Geller worked on the exterior (although the marquees recall the Murray Hill) while the auditoria are recognizably Schlanger.

I was struck by the Lincoln Center resemblance because of the arcaded window with visible second floor lobby, which was mandated as a common design feature for the three central buildings to give the impression of architectural unity. But even if Geller was entirely responsible for the exterior, oddly it was Schlanger who worked on Lincoln Center.

By the 1950s, Schlanger had achieved an international reputation for his work on sight lines, and so did the seating arrangements for the U.N. General Assembly as well as a number of prominent arts centers in the U.S. and abroad — at the least, the seating at the Met and the New York State Theatre was designed by him.

I’m very familiar with his NYC theaters because they were generally my first choice for seeing a movie if it was playing at more than one theater. I also had the good fortune of growing up in a small New England city with three Schlanger theaters, inevitably my preferred theaters as well. That’s why I’m sure he did the auditoria for Cinema I/II — pretty recognizable to anyone who knows his work. And that’s why I see the later “renovation” as more desecration and was sorry to see Geller involved. Getting rid of the Syncho Screen and replacing it with a conventional screen placed too close to the seating area destroyed Schlanger’s carefully worked out sight lines. And it encased the screen in conventional black masking, something Schlanger campaigned against for his entire career. I went to the new Cinema I once and never went back.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on August 19, 2014 at 10:11 am

The similarity of facade design between the Cinema I/II building and Lincoln Center is obvious, and the fact they were built around the same time makes it seem more than a coincidence. So the question is, was there an actual plan to have these Cinemas be the East Side film showcase for Lincoln Center, or was it simply an attempt to capitalize on the publicity around Lincoln Center’s opening?

ridethectrain
ridethectrain on December 7, 2014 at 10:53 am

Cinema 1 is going reserved seating, losing half the capacity. The new capacity 187 seats, they probadly having reclyning seats. I don’t know if Cinema 2 and 3 will do the same.

The first feature with the new seats “Wild” on Friday December 12

SethLewis
SethLewis on December 8, 2014 at 6:20 am

This is a relief…can’t imagine living in NYC with the way it is being screened now…what the UES needs in a Kips Bay style multiplex for the big commercial films and a Lincoln Plaza style multiplex for art house product and then everyone’s needs are served

Easier said than done I realise

ridethectrain
ridethectrain on December 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Cinema 2 has 97 seats and Cinema 3 has 48 seats

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on December 17, 2014 at 5:11 am

So Cinema 3 is like watching a movie in your living room – only a lot more expensive.

SethLewis
SethLewis on December 17, 2014 at 9:28 am

What is the overall new seat count?

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 17, 2014 at 9:53 am

So have they made any other upgrades to the place other than the seats? New carpeting maybe? Wallpaper? New upscale concession menu? Also, with the upgrade(s) what is the new admission price?

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