Loew's Yorkville Theatre

157 East 86th Street,
New York, NY 10028

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The Yorkville Theatre was built in 1902, and was operated by the Shubert Bros. It was operating as a vaudeville house known as the Yorkville Theatre when Marcus Loew took it over in 1910. It was typical of its time, with two separate balconies and tiers of box seats flanking both sides of the stage. It was one of Loew’s earliest New York City area theatres, along with the Lincoln Square, Majestic, West End, and Royal (Brooklyn), which were also acquisitions. Loew’s Yorkville Theatre proved so successful that three years later, the circuit built the much larger and more opulent Orpheum Theatre in the same block, but closer to Third Avenue. Loew’s continued to operate the Yorkville Theatre, but favored the Orpheum Theatre in programming.

Loew’s Yorkville Theatre switched to a cheaper grade of vaudville and subsequent-run movies. Around 1920, it was re-named Loew’s 86th Street, showing sub-run movies exclusively. Three decades later, Loew’s divested the 86th Street Theatre as part of its compliance with the Federal anti-trust action against the company. The Brandt circuit took over the theatre and ran it until closure. I don’t know its eventual fate. It was converted to retail use.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

AlAlvarez on December 14, 2009 at 7:31 pm

It was on 86th street and what cross street?

AlAlvarez on March 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm

It was directly across the street from the other two Loews, between Third and Lexington.

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Tinseltoes on March 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm

A Horn & Hardart cafeteria and retail store replaced the Yorkville Theatre: View link

Tinseltoes on March 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

I must correct an error made above on 2/16/10 at 1:33pm. The Yorkville Theatre was NOT replaced by a Horn & Hardart cafeteria. Reportage and advertising in The New York Times reveals that the cafeteria was situated at 163-165 East 86th Street and opened for business on 12/13/1927. A sketch in an NYT ad shows the cafeteria to be just to the east of Yorkville Theatre, which was still operating at the time but no longer under Loew’s management. But in May, 1928, the NYT reported that the Yorkville Theatre had just been sold for demolition and replacement by a five-story building with street level stores. That report gave the Yorkville’s address as 157-161, and with a ground site measuring 76 by 100 feet. The previous year (1927), an obsolete YMCA at 153-155 was sold at public auction for demolition and replacement by stores/offices. That YMCA building was just to the west of the Yorkville Theatre. So, from the time that Horn & Hardart acquired the cafeteria site, there was considerable re-construction intended for that north side of 86th Street that stretched towards Lexington Avenue. It can probably be assumed that the old-fashioned Yorkville had tested unsuitable for “talkies.” The area had recently added a palatial new Proctor’s 86th Street to compete with Loew’s Orpheum, Loew’s 86th Street, and the Garden Theatre, not to mention other cinemas further east…The photos posted above on 11/7/05 by “davebazooka” suggest that some of the facade of the Yorkville Theatre was retained for the building that currently occupies that site.

AlAlvarez on March 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm

As far as I can tell, the Yorkville ran German operettas and legit shows after the Loews days, but not movies.

TLSLOEWS on May 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Thanks AlAlvarez.

spectrum on April 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm

From the Google aerial and street views, it looks like the entire building is still standing; merely converted to retail. Upper floors look vacant. Maybe the upper part of the auditorium is unaltered??

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 18, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Ruth Crosby Dimmick’s 1913 book Our Theatres To-day and Yesterday says that the Yorkville Theatre was built in 1902 and was operated by the Shuberts for a while until being taken over my Marcus Loew and reopened as a movie and variety theater on October 1, 1909.

mailmanmike54 on November 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Years ago in a book i found a admission ticket to the Yorkville Theatre dated feb 11 1922 , price for ticket was $1.10

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