68th Street Playhouse

1164 3rd Avenue,
New York, NY 10065

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68th Street Playhouse

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1914. The 68th Street Playhouse was remodelled in 1933 to the plans of architect Eugene DeRosa. A former Upper Eastside institution, the 68th Street Playhouse, which showed a steady stream of indie and foreign films during its run, closed in July 1997 after a dispute between the property’s landlord and City Cinemas, a Manhattan-based exhibitor.

The theater has since been converted into a location for the clothing store chain ‘The Children’s Place’.

Contributed by Dan Braun

Recent comments (view all 64 comments)

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on November 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I remember catching quite a few movies at this rather tiny and intimate theater.

Given the small space available, they really had to cram in as many seats as they possibly could in order to maintain a profitable capacity. This resulted in the first few rows being situated nearly under – only a mild exageration – the screen. On one occasion, the showing was full to near capacity and I could only find a seat in the first row. In order to view the film, I had to tilt my neck at a very extreme angle. While I have totally forgotten the film that I saw that day, I still occasionally am visited with neck pains derived – I am sure – from those two or so hours of trying to view it.

The moral of the story: NEVER sit in the first five rows in the 68th Street Playhouse! Beyond that point, however, this was a great place to take in a flick.

mmc
mmc on November 3, 2011 at 9:29 am

Dear Al and Tinseltoes,

Thank you so much for this information. I am in the UK although I have made a point of visiting the store where the theatre was on a visit to New York. Such a shame it has gone but the same think has happened in the UK where the young generation know mostly on Multi screen cinemas. However, we have a lovely restored one in my town that has plush seats where people can pass without you having to get up and they even have four two seater red sofas if you are lucky enough to book them! They also sell wine by the glass … very civilised. With regard to ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ how popular and widespread is it in contemporary popular culture. Is it still referenced and well-read. I noticed that there has been a recent stage revival. Was the film shown again later after the above dates do you know?

Thank you,

Margaret

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on November 3, 2011 at 11:40 am

Margaret, it is considered a classic novel and film and often shows on TV. The book was required high school reading at my school in the mid-seventies.

The film was often a second feature in later years and had a minor re-release in November 1947 but I can’t find any other dates at the 68th St. Playhouse.

Hunter
Hunter on December 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

I saw so many good films there. What a shame it had to close. In 1986 I saw an excellent French film called Baiser Rouge. I think “The Gods Must Be Crazy"played there for two years.

garyw
garyw on January 3, 2013 at 8:50 am

I live on 64th St. & First Ave. & miss the old 68th St. Playhouse. I saw “Gods Must Be Crazy” & “Return of Martin Guerre” there in the 80’s among other things. I think the last thing I saw there was “Dangerous Liasons” in the 90’s which I remember seeing from the balcony. I’m a theater nut & love shared cultural experiences even if it is alongside strangers. It was a truly unique time that I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience before video began keeping most people home for their film experiences.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on January 3, 2013 at 10:28 am

I saw La Cage Au Folles opening day there which ended up laying for over a year.

robboehm
robboehm on January 3, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I saw La Cage there also. Had an aisle seat. Laughed so hard at one point that I wound up in the aisle.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 7, 2014 at 10:30 pm

The building at this address was to be remodeled, according to this item in the September 23, 1933, issue of Motion Picture Herald. It sounds as though there was already a theater in it at that time, but if so the magazine didn’t give its name:

“Catherine O'Reilly of Great Neck, to alter building and motion picture theatre at 1164 Third Avenue, New York City. Cost $4,000. Architect, Eugene De Rosa, Inc., 105 West 40tb Street.”

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 8, 2014 at 3:51 am

The 1930 edition of Film Daily Yearbook lists the 68th Street Playhouse, 68th Street & 3rd Avenue with 1,269 seats (obviously a mis-print) as in the 1931 edition of FDY it is listed with 409 seats.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 8, 2014 at 7:49 am

AlAlvarez AlAlvarez on August 8, 2014 at 7:48 am (remove)

According to this NYT article, the 68th Street Playhouse was converted from an apartment building to a vaudeville and movie house in 1914.

View link

It closed in July 1997 with “The Pillow book”.

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