Heights Theater

150 Wadsworth Avenue,
New York, NY 10033

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Heights Theater

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The Heights Theater opened November 15, 1913, located in Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The Heights Theater operated into the 1960’s. Now closed, the building still stands and is listed as being a store/office.

Contributed by CJDV & Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

davidplomin on September 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Even though the seats are long gone, it’s nice to see the building still standing. I love the fact that the upper half is still intact, including the twin brackets that must have held the original signage or cast iron canopy/awning. Would love to go in and see what’s been covered by drop ceilings and side paneling!

keithyorkcity on September 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Responding (many months late) to Joe Vogel’s comment: looking at a 1916 insurance map of the intersection shows The Heights Theatre at the SW corner of 181/Wadsworth and the Wadsworth Theatre at the SE corner of 181/Wadsworth. Both building appear to still be standing, albeit gutted for retail.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Thanks for the information, keithyorkcity. This page from the Museum of the City of New York has a drawing of the Wadsworth Theatre by Anthony Dumas, and the notation says that it opened in 1910 and was torn down in 1916.

The building on the site now appears to be fairly old, the brickwork being characteristic of the 1910s, but the Wadsworth Theatre was a big, elaborate building, and I can’t fathom why it would have been demolished when it was only five years old, even if it was unprofitable as a theater. It seems that it could have been converted to some other use. That it would have been replaced by the single-story building on the lot now is very strange.

The Dumas drawing is dated 1939, so if the theater was demolished in 1916 he must have been working from old photos or the architects' own drawings. But it also makes me wonder if the museum’s claim of a 1916 demolition might be wrong.

guarina on March 3, 2014 at 2:16 am

It looks as if the building were not torn down, more like rebuilt. It seems to me you can still see the original 3 windows.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

Hey Guarina… The Wadsworth Theatre would be a completely different structure from the Heights Theatre. The location was across Wadsworth Avenue from the Heights, with its entrance around the corner on W. 181st Street. The Heights would have actually faced the auditorium side wall of the Wadsworth. Whichever year the Wadsworth was torn down, it was definitely demolished to make way for the single-story tax payers that now occupy the lot. More importantly, CT is in need of a listing for the Wadsworth Theatre. Calling Joe Vogel…

guarina on July 2, 2014 at 10:25 am

Ed, it took me a long time, but I’ve just realized now (I had surgery yesterday and now looked at it with fresh eyes) that the Heights Theater I remember was on the west side of the street, so the address would NOT have been 150. The building to the north of it is #145, so I guess it must have been 151. But there’s no trace of a second story left.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 2, 2014 at 11:26 am

guarina: at 150 Wadsworth, the Heights Theatre building is on the west side of the street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Ed: I’ve held off submitting the Wadsworth Theatre because I’ve been unable to find any evidence that it operated as a movie house at any time during its brief existence. However, while trying to find such evidence I came across an item in the July 5, 1913, issue of The American Contractor that is probably about the Heights Theatre, which opened October 11, 1913:

“Store, Office & Moving Picture Bldg.: 2 sty. 102x150x100. $75,000. Broadway, 181st st. & Wadsworth av. Archts. Townsend, Steinle & Haskell, 1328 Broadway. Owner Robert E. Westcott estate, 33 Wall st. Bldrs. Fountain & Choate, 110 E. 23d st. Brick, stone. Work in progress. Plastering let to T. A. O'Rourke Co., 103 Park av.”
A couple of Townsend, Steinle & Haskell’s large apartment buildings made it into the AIA Guide to New York City, but the Heights didn’t.

guarina on July 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Joe, Thank you for the clarification. I was under the impression that on avenues the odd numbers were on the west side, even numbers on the east, judging from the RKO Coliseum, the Uptown, the Loew’s 175th Street, Theresa Pharmacy, Washington Heights Federal Savings.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 2, 2014 at 7:23 pm

They usually are, guarina, but for some reason on Wadsworth Avenue it’s back-asswards.

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