Arena Theatre

623 Eighth Avenue,
New York, NY 10018

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This late-run movie theatre on the west side of Eighth Avenue near W. 41st Street depended partially on spillovers from the nearby Loew’s American Theatre. Very little information about the Arena’s history seems to be available, but it opened in 1918, and various Film Daily Year Books list its seating capacity in the 800 to 1,000 range, though the most often cited figure is 953.

In 1944, an Italian-American group that had been running vintage Italian films at the Park Theatre (originally Majestic Theatre) in Columbus Circle under the name of Cinema Verdi switched to the Arena Theatre when the Park Theatre went legit as the re-christened International Theatre. Now known as the Arena Cinema Verdi, the Eighth Avenue house operated until 1948-49, when it was demolished to make way for construction of the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The Cinema Verdi policy was then moved to the Princess Theatre, where it remained until that closed for demolition around 1954-55.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 23, 2005 at 10:50 am

Thanks for the tip. I will pursue that the next time I am in Manhattan. And I know Italian.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

See my previous comment for April 23, 2005 concerning the virtually unknown presentation of De Sica’s I bambini ci guardano / The Children Are Watching Us at the Arena Cinema Verdi under the title of The Little Martyr. And see the newspaper ad here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 23, 2010 at 3:33 am

According to the January, 1918, issue of the trade journal Architecture and Building, the Arena Theatre was designed by the firm of Eisendrath & Horwitz.

philologist
philologist on November 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm

To Lost Memory : I’ve just turned 85 and as a young boy I would frequent the Arena every Sat. that is if I had the 10 cents for the price of admission. 1934 to ? 1940.

You noted : “If both roof and inside theatre are used at the same time,” The roof theatre must have been closed before 1934 as nothing existed above the theatre itself. Trivia…. Adjacent to the entrance, on the North side was a small shop that sold a hot dog and a fairly large stein of root beer for, believe it or not, for a NICKEL!

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm

That site seems to require a log-in, TT.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on June 5, 2012 at 3:18 am

Sorry! That was my first (and now final) attempt to link to that website. I have now removed it. Those wishing to view those two B&W photos of the 8th Avenue facade and of the auditorium should consult the August 1st, 1920 issue of Architecture Magazine, which can be found on many library computer systems via ProQuest.

biff33
biff33 on November 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

The magazine referred to by Joe Vogel has a nice pic of the exterior. It is visible here:

https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=pCznAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA6

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on November 25, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Great find, biff33.

The Village theatres below is also a rare photo.

Shame the site won’t allow a print feature.

robboehm
robboehm on November 26, 2012 at 11:16 am

Could somebody link the Village photo with it’s site on CT.

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