American Movies

238 E. 3rd Street,
New York, NY 10009

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Roger Katz
Roger Katz on November 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Isn’t this theatre closed?

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on October 29, 2008 at 9:27 am

Thanks for this information. It means that they added a balcony at some point because the theater didn’t have that when it was built in 1914.

waldhouses on October 29, 2008 at 9:14 am

The theatre was extremely small with the bathrooms just inside the door after you paid. A small balcony perhaps ten rows deep. Also a post office was on the block. And it was between Ave C & Ave B.

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on October 29, 2008 at 8:57 am

Can you remember how the theater looked inside? Did it still have an open roof construction?

waldhouses on October 29, 2008 at 8:39 am

I grew up in the Lillian Wald House on E. Houston during the fifties and can remember going to the American Movie House on 3rd St.
We had all the sci-fi, horror movies of the time: Big Bugs, Aliens, etc. But also I saw the Ten Commandments there; along with a slew of cartoons: IN COLOR. That in itself was amazing since none of us had seen color cartoons before (only B/W Tvs existed). And there were three other theatres in the neighborhood: the Winston on Clinton & E. Houston, Lowes Delancey on Delancey & Suffork (next to Ratner’s) & the Academy of Music on 14th (next to LuChows). Imagine, all day movies and cartoons for 20 cents.


MPol on September 25, 2008 at 10:57 am

Wow!! What a vicious act that was!! Imagine beating somebody within an inch or so of their life for asking an innocous question such as what time it was! Here’s hoping the theatre owner got put behind bars.

I like the marquee in the front of the theatre.

GabiClayton on July 12, 2008 at 4:17 pm

I lived in the East Village when I was about 11 years old on East 3rd Street between Ave B & C. We lived in an apartment on the 2nd or 3rd floor, and it was across the street from an old movie theater, and I think this must have been this theater. My sister and I both remember seeing the 1963 version of “The Haunting” there. One day the owner (or manager?) of the theater was standing 0in front of the theater and a Puerto Rican man asked him what time it was. The theater owner beat him in the head with brass knuckles and put him in a coma. I think I witnessed it from the fire escape of our apartment, or some of the reaction of our neighbors later. My mother told me later that what he did was a racist act.

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on May 16, 2008 at 12:54 am

The architect of this theater is Louis Sheinart.

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on November 7, 2007 at 2:27 pm

A few years ago, when the building was for rent, I tried to arrange a visit. Unfortunately, I was too late. The real estate agent told me that the building had just been leased to a theatrical company and would be used for rehearsals.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 7, 2007 at 10:28 am

Going all the way back to Lost Memory’s post of April 27, 2005… Lost notes that ownership is listed as Blue Man Group Productions. I know that the Blue Man Group show is currently at the Astor Place Theatre on Lafayette Street, and has been for a number of years. Could this have been an earlier performance space for that group? I know they started in a club somewhere in downtown Manhattan, so perhaps it was at during the building’s years as the “G-Spot.” Or perhaps the old theatre is (or was) used as a rehearsal or audition space for road editions of Blue Man Group? Is there any activity at all there these days?

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on November 7, 2007 at 7:25 am

There were many ads for the American Movies Theater in the Jewish Daily Forward during the 1910s (mostly in Yiddish). The emphasis in the opening ads was on the safety of the building, the comfort of the seats, the coolness of the open air performances. By stressing these modern-day, “American” conveniences, Steiner sought to lure customers away from the old-style storefront nickelodeons and assured his patrons that an accident like the one that had happened at the Houston Hippodrome in 1913 (see listing Sunshine Cinema) would not be possible in his new movie theater. Considering the theater’s name, we would expect that it featured primarily American films. So it did, but Steiner also showed foreign films and he frequently promoted titles dealing with Jewish subject matter.

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on November 7, 2007 at 7:07 am

The American Movies Theater was built in 1914. The opening was announced in the Jewish Daily Forward of 11 April 1914:

The American Movies, the new $70,000 theater on 238-240 East Third Street, between Avenue B and C opens today. It is positively the most beautiful, richest theater on the East Side. Never has there been such a building, such a show on the East Side. Today this beautiful temple will open its doors. It will present the latest and best five and six real features, and a concert will be given at each show, by an orchestra that consist only of artists. One of the interesting characteristics of this theater is that all seats are downstairs, near an exit. In this model theater there is no balcony. Another feature of this theater is that the roof is constructed is such a way that it can be opened and the theater becomes an open air theater in which it will be a pleasure to be during warm nights. The theater is owned by the Interborough Theatrical Company and run by Mr. Charles Steiner, who has gained a reputation on the East Side of being a very successful theater man.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 6, 2007 at 2:53 pm

A photograph of the former American Movies building which I took in October 2007:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 5, 2005 at 2:31 am

Prior to its current/most recent use as a live performance space, the former American Movies Theatre had been a night-club named the ‘G-Spot’

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 27, 2005 at 1:43 pm

I agree RobertR, and where would the speaker horns be placed?. Projecting onto the a white painted rear wall was common in very early cinema, especially local neighborhood theatres, but these were showing silent movies. The American Movies was operating way into the 1950’s, and I am sure no matter how ancient and strapped fro chash it could have been, the owners/management must have installed a screen on a frame at some time during its life?

RobertR on April 27, 2005 at 1:26 pm

I would love to know if this wall was smooth or did you actually see the shape of the bricks. It all sounds so bizzare.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 27, 2005 at 6:06 am

Listed in Film Daily Yearbook’s that I have;1930 through 1950 editions as the American Movies. Seating capacities given range from 500, 525 to 592. By the 1957 edition it has been dropped from the listings.