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 33 comments)

sonia44 on March 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Sonia Kutzin on March 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I recently saw “Children of Paradise” at the Film Forum. 60 years ago I saw it at the Heights Theatre. I was able to see the most marvelous foreign films there so many years ago, and am forever grateful for that experience.

guarina on April 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

I remember the Heights from 1951 and it was still there in 1957. I saw “Anna Karenina” with Greta Garbo there, and a documentary about Ireland.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 17, 2012 at 2:17 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 17, 2012 at 7:57 pm

A brief item from the July 1, 1916, issue of the entertainment industry journal The New York Clipper discussed two large new theaters proposed for the Washington Heights district, and added the editorial opinion that the neighborhood already had enough theaters to satisfy local demand. The final line said: “The Wadsworth, at One Hundred and Eighty-first Street and Wadsworth Avenue, could not pay with any policy, so a bit of advice, don’t be hasty and overdo it.”

As this house opened as the Heights Theatre in 1913, either there must have been another theater at or near this intersection, or the Heights used the name Wadsworth at some point in its early history. Advertisements or theater listings from the period 1913-1916 should reveal which of those was the case. If the Heights and the Wadsworth were the same house, it would have been closed for some time in the first half of 1916.

Here is the complete item (which I cited in a previous comment) about the opening of the Heights Theatre, as reported in the November 15, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Heights Theater.

“The L. & B. Amusement Company opened a new picture theater at Wadsworth Avenue and 181st Street, New York City, on Saturday evening, October 11, to a large patronage and is enjoying a steady patronage of the most satisfactory character. W. A. Landau, formerly proprietor of the Audubon Theater, in 181st Street, is president of the company, and S. G. Bock, who was connected with the St. Nicholas Theater, in the same neighborhood, is secretary and treasurer. The new house is of regular theater construction, seats 600 persons and has twelve exits. The construction is fireproof throughout. Two Standard projecting machines and a mercury arc rectifier have been installed, providing a fine picture at a throw of no feet. The chairs are from the American Seating Company. An indirect lighting system and large exhaust fans for ventilating complete an up-to-date equipment. Retiring rooms for men and women insure the comfort of the patrons. A Hope-Jones unit orchestra provides music for the pictures.”

random on January 13, 2013 at 6:25 am

I spent a lot of movie viewing time at the Heights as a young teenager. Regarding sexual content, an early French language risque Jane Fonda film, Leather Boys, a gay themed 1964 British film, and The Collector 1965. Usually double bill, so neither of the first two films was the reason I went to the theater. Nor was I denied entrance. Of all things, I was refused admission to The Collector,with Samantha Eggar, as a woman kidnapped by sex deviant Terence Stamp, so go figure. My mother went with me another day. Also saw the two Beatles films on a double bill at the Heights. A lot of good memories.

davidplomin on September 11, 2013 at 10:32 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 9:49 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 11:08 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 10:16 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 5:55 pm

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…

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