Ditmars Theatre

22-68 31st Street,
Astoria, NY 11105

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Asyd
Asyd on April 29, 2012 at 10:38 am

There was an ice staking rink above “Astoria Bowl” I’m sure cause thats where I met my wife!!
Asyd

hankmc
hankmc on June 8, 2009 at 8:45 am

I just found this site while doing some research on my old Astoria neighborhood, the best times of my childhood until we moved to NJ in 1955.

Back in the late 40’s early 50’s both the Ditmars and the Grand had Saturday matinees for kids that certainly gave you your 12 cents worth, most of us brought a sandwich since you would be there from 10AM to at least 2 or 3PM. The Ditmars was a small theater that was on one level and traded luxury for inexpensive admission prices and two current films along with cartoons, short subjects, and the all important coming attractions. During WWll they sold War Bonds and gave out dishes. A friendly place.

The Grand was larger, more palatial, with a balcony and ushers who lit the way to a seat if the film was in progress. They also had stern looking older women wearing starched white dresses who served as matrons during the Saturday kid’s show and kept the peace during the times the screen action slowed down and the sugar candy high kicked in resulting in things being thrown among the audience and scuffles breaking out. A matron could get you banned for a week or two which was bad news since every kid in the neighborhood was either at the Grand or the Ditmars and being out on the street was like being in solitary.

There was a bowling alley operating at the same time as the Grand. It was below ground in the small office building on the East side of the Ditmars station that you passed through on the way to the street. Instead of exiting to 31st St. you went down another flight to Lou’s, (I don’t remember the real name). About a 16 alley down and dirty dungeon that was not a family place but served as a great place to learn to bowl and hang out watching some money games going on among the local hustlers. Lou closed in the summer because without A/C the wood in the alleys would swell and buckle.

There was also a pool room across the street level with the station that was entered by a stairway from 31st St. Another definitely non-family type hangout that had so much smoke and grime on the inside of the windows you could not see out. Hanging out there was considered by parents to be the quick path to jail and eventually Hell so you watched to see if there might be someone who knew you nearby before ducking into the doorway and the stairway. Thanks for a place to unpack some memories. Is there an Astoria nostalgia site to trade tall tales about the good old days? Hank

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 19, 2008 at 7:18 am

The Ditmars Theatre had its “Grand Opening” on June 24th, 1936, with a late-run double feature of “These Three” & “Leathernecks Have Landed,” according to an ad in that day’s Long Island Star-Journal. Since the USA was still very much in the grip of the Great Depression, one wonders why anyone would risk opening another cinema in a part of Astoria that already had two large Skouras theatres, the Grand and Crescent. The only advantage that the Ditmars seemed to have was air-conditioning, which the Grand and Crescent lacked. Perhaps that was enough to keep the small Ditmars packed during the dog days of summer.

Larry083
Larry083 on December 19, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Now that I tihink of it Key Food was a movie theater. You can tell from looking at the building from the parking lot. It was then a skating rink in the late 70’s-early 80’s. The Roller-Royce.

Larry083
Larry083 on December 19, 2007 at 9:53 pm

I thought the Key Food was a bowling alley and the citibank was a movie theater

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 25, 2006 at 9:49 am

And the former Grand is right up the block on the other side of the concrete RR trestle and towards the end of the elevated subway platform on the right (with the large parking lot behind it). The Grand is now a Key Food.

glmore
glmore on September 25, 2006 at 8:31 am

better view of previous post:
View link

glmore
glmore on September 25, 2006 at 8:23 am

Aerial view, the odd shape white roof, next to the elevated RR and
opposite the subway station…..corner of 31 St and 23 Ave.
View link
I use to go to see movies back in late 50’s and mid 60’s.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 8, 2006 at 9:17 am

There is a very good view of the Ditmars' marquee and entrance in the 1982 Paul Mazursky film “The Tempest”. About a third to half way through the movie, there is a long shot of the John Cassevettes character talking with his father as they walk near the curb of 31st Ave just in front of the theater. The marquee shown is a mid-sized box with individual red block letters spelling “DITMARS” sitting on top of the marquee frame on each side facing the sidewalk. There was metal flashing around the perimeter of the frame (as with many such marquees in the ‘70’s and '80’s, probably hiding an old strip of lighting) and three rows for lettering to advertise the features – which were all Greek titles. The shot didn’t clearly reveal the front of the marquee, so I couldn’t tell if it featured only the name of the theater (which I thought it did) or offered another panel to advertise the titles playing.

The facade was a blue-grey color and the right side of the entrance had a rounded corner leading down the alley that is still there (but fenced off) next to the current Post Office that occupies the site. The corner featured a curved display case. I was recently by this site and I seem to recall a year carved into a corner stone of the building – can’t recall what the year is, but it was recent, like 1987 or something. Not sure if that signifies the date of new construction or just the year of a gut rehab and conversion.

I wish I had the capability to capture TV images on my computer – or perhaps I should say that I wish I knew HOW to do that on my computer!

RobertR
RobertR on August 28, 2005 at 9:46 am

In 1973 the Ditmars was running Greek double features
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