Loew's 72nd Street Theatre

180 E. 72nd Street,
New York, NY 10021

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rivest266 on September 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm

This opened on February 20th, 1932. Grand opening ad uploaded.

bigjoe59 on February 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

i just became aware of this website like a month ago. so i have
3 quick questions for devotees of the late Tower East.
none of the photo links for the old Loews 72 St. work. how
can i see photos of it?
the Tower East was built as a movie theater with no freight
entrance so how in God’s name will convert it into a super-
*also while we all lament the passing of a grand old movie theater
like the Loews 72 Street we must not forget that these grand old
theaters simply became economically unfeasible. :–(

Tinseltoes on December 31, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Sorry, but my first sentence of today gave the name incorrectly and omitted “Street” (or “St.”). The number by itself implies that it was the 72nd Loew’s theatre, which I’m sure would be untrue…Would be great if the introductory photo could be changed to one that actually shows Loew’s 72nd Street in its prime, instead of the architectural zero that replaced it.

Tinseltoes on December 31, 2010 at 9:34 am

Sadly, tonight marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of Loew’s 72nd Theatre, one of the most magnificent atmospherics ever built, which survived for not even 29 years. The final program, part of a Loew’s circuit run, was “The World of Suzie Wong” and short subjects, which moved the next day to the RKO 58th Street. Loew’s now had no theatres on the East Side between the Orpheum on 86th Street and the Commodore and Delancey below 14th Street.

TLSLOEWS on February 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Warrens photbuckets do not work anymore.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 30, 2009 at 8:32 am

To test audience reaction, MGM held a “sneak preview” of “Show Boat” at Loew’s 72nd Street on May 21, 1951, according to “That’s Entertainment,” Hugh Fordin’s book about the musicals produced by Arthur Freed. A research survey company handed out 400 reaction cards, dividing them equally between men and women. Two thirds were given to people under thirty (considered the core audience) and the rest to those over thirty. The study revealed that 51% of the cards rated “Show Boat” as “excellent,” 39% “very good,” and 10% “good.” To the question of whether they would recommend “Show Boat” to others, 100% answered “Yes.” Attending the screening were officials of Radio City Music Hall, who were delighted by the reactions and booked “Show Boat” for that summer. With stage show, the Technicolor musical opened at RCMH on July 19th and ran for a highly successful eight weeks. “Show Boat” finally reached Loew’s 72nd Street and other Loew’s neighborhood theatres in October, with MGM’s Lassie feature, “The Painted Hills,” in support.

LuisV on June 14, 2008 at 9:58 am

Warren, thanks so much for the images. What an incredibly beautiful theater. Another tragic loss. I’m truly amazed at how many spectacular theaters existed at the same time in the New York of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Long demolished theaters like Proctor’s 58th St, The Center, The Roxy, The Capitol, Loews State, The Triboro, RKO 23rd St, Loew’s Sheridan Square,Loew’s Orpheum, The Academy of Music, The Forum, RKO Keiths, Brooklyn Paramount, Brooklyn Fox, and of course Loews 72nd Street. I could go on and on. They all existed as movie venues. What a choice! I started my movie going in the 70’s and I didn’t have the appreciation for architecture in general and movie palaces in particular that I have today. I regret not having ever seen many of these theaters let alone seeing a film in one.

In the past, banks built very elaborate structures that no longer work economically. Very few still serve their original purpose though others survive as “event” spaces.

I wonder if there are any buildings that are in common use today that we will look back on 30 years from now with fond nostalgia because they became “obsolete”?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 14, 2008 at 9:00 am

Here’s an ad for the grand opening on February 20th, 1932. Altough it offered “3,200 Seats in a Setting of Oriental Luxury,” the 72nd Street operated solely as a cinema and never presented vaudeville or stages shows due to its location in a primarily residential area “Where Park Avenue Meets Hollywood.” Programs changed three times per week, and consisted of a second-run movie and shorts until 1935, when double features became the vogue throughout the Greater New York area:View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 14, 2008 at 9:34 am

New direct links to images described above on 7/18/05:
View link
View link
View link

ERD on January 6, 2006 at 5:48 am

Correction of above post: Last sentence: … more people will become aware of such losses- now and in the future.

ERD on January 6, 2006 at 5:26 am

This theatre was very beautiful. The unique latern above the proscenium was especially noticable. Lamb did a wonderful job in designing this atmospheric theatre. The destruction of Loew’s 72nd Street-like many others- is a sad commentary on a civlization where financial gain is the top priority. Because of websites such as CINEMA TREASURES, more people will become aware such losses now and in the future.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 22, 2005 at 1:13 pm

Loew’s 72nd Street closed forever on New Year’s night, January 1, 1961 (a Sunday), after the last complete showing of “The World of Suzie Wong” and its companion color featurette, “Boats-A-Poppin'.” The movie had been doing so well on its Loew’s circuit break that Paramount arranged for it to stay in the area for two more days by moving it to the RKO 58th Street.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 12, 2005 at 6:07 am

Here’s a Loew’s circuit ad from the City edition of the NY Daily News for June 6, 1944 (D-Day!). It does not include the Loew’s theatres in two other boroughs, which were advertised in the Brooklyn-Queens edition. This being a Tuesday, some of the theatres had two-day bookings of “B” movies or re-issues, and would return to normal on Thursday. The 72nd Street, Lexington, Olympia, and 175th Street, for example, would re-join the Paradise, Ziegfeld and 83rd Street for the first neighborhood run of “Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble” & “Three Men in White.” And “Lady in the Dark” & “The Navy Way” would move on to the theatres listed here as showing “Northwest Passage” & “Third Finger, Left Hand”:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 18, 2005 at 10:07 am

Here are several early images. In the first, the black areas across the ceiling are only shadows caused by the photographer’s flash, and not part of the decor. In the second of the left sidewall, please note the twinkling stars in the ceiling. The third shows that the entrance was west of Third Avenue, permitting corner stores that included a Schrafft’s restaurant and provided considerable extra income for Loew’s:

RobertR on June 20, 2005 at 3:37 pm

March 1958 a half page ad in the Times announced the following…“ 8 special engagements of the Ten Commandments will start on Friday April 4th to accomodate the millions of New Yorkers who were unable to attend the unprecedented Broadway showing of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. The Criterion Theatres record 70 week showing of this motion picture has been terminated to enable it to be shown in limited engagements in eight specially selected, conviently located theatres throughout greater New York. It will be presented uncut and intact exactly as shown on Broadway to 1,344,016. In Manhattan it played Loew’s 72nd Street and Loews 83rd Street. In Brooklyn at the Paramount, Bronx at Paradise, Queens Valencia, Staten Island Paramount, Long Island at the Calderone and in Westchester at Loews White Plains. The other interesting thing is the manager of each theatre is listed with their phone number to call to arrange groups and theatre parties.

Theatrefan on August 5, 2004 at 6:24 am

I spoke with the manager at the Astor Plaza that last weekend, he said yes indeed they were giving them some of the Astor Plaza’s seats, but not all of them, he looked very busy so I couldn’t ask any further questions.

Mikeoaklandpark on August 5, 2004 at 6:21 am

There was a rumor that the 72nd St East was going to receive the seats from the Astor Plaza. Has anyone confirmed this or heard any different?

Theatrefan on August 5, 2004 at 6:21 am

Yes the Alpine still exists as a 7 screen theatre. It has two large auditoriums on the left side and 5 smaller ones on the right, they date back from the late 80’s. I don’t thing anything inside that was original remains, or it could be hidden by the ugly ceiling panels. The Alpine never had a balcony so they is no second level, only the projection room.

I did see in the photo of the 83rd St. that the condos on top of the 84th St had yet to be built, when they did start construction I wonder if people could hear it watching their movies.

dave-bronx™ on August 4, 2004 at 9:43 pm

You’re right. Is the Alpine still open? If so I can’t think of any other of the old ones still operated by Loews in New York.

The old 83rd St. Quad was on that block at the corner of 83rd St., and the new 84th St. 6-plex is on the same block but at the corner of 84th St.

Theatrefan on August 4, 2004 at 9:07 pm

Thanks dave-bronx, I always wondered why one was the 83rd and the other the 84th Street. Unfortunately these replacements could never match any of the original theatres. As we have all said, most of the time the property that theatres sat on was far more valuable than keeping the original theatre operating and open. In all of NYC does Loews Cineplex have any of their original theatres still operating? The Alpine in Brooklyn is the only one that seems to come to mind, and that one went thru some different chains before returning to the Loews chain.

dave-bronx™ on August 4, 2004 at 5:03 pm

BTW, check the Loews 83rd St. page on this site – there is a photo of the old quad with the new 6plex in the left edge of the pic.

dave-bronx™ on August 4, 2004 at 4:50 pm

84th St. 6-plex is on the north half of the blockfront btwn 83 & 84 Sts., east side of Broadway. The 83rd St. Quad was on the south half of the blockfront btwn 83 & 84 Sts., east side of Broadway. The first 2 days the 6-plex was open, the quad was open too, and the old and new theatres sat there side by side. The present apt. bldg. sits on the ground that the quad was on AND on the roof of the 6-plex. Trust me, I worked there.