RKO Albee Theatre

1 DeKalb Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Albee in later years

The E.F. Albee Theatre, on Dekalb Avenue, which opened in January 1925, was named after Edward F. Albee (1857-1930) and had crystal chandeliers in the lobby and paintings from Albee’s private collection. It also contained a 40 x 70 foot Czech Maffersdorf carpet billed as the world’s largest rug.

The RKO Albee Theatre was closed in September 1978 and demolished in November 1978 to make way for the Albee Square Mall (which itself was demolished in the Summer of 2008). The up-market City Point retail and residential building was built on part of the site, and this contains the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn movie theatre which opened in October 2016. (It has its own page on Cinema Treasures)

Contributed by Frank Tilelli, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 94 comments)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 1, 2019 at 1:51 am

It was still showing first run, but day-and-dates with other Brooklyn houses, not playing exclusives in Brooklyn as it had for decades.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 7, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Hello-

on pg. 1 of the photo section is an ad for The Robe’s run at this theater after finishing its exclusive 1st run in Manhattan. now from the wording in the ad am I to understand during the film’s run at this theater it was the only movie theater in all of NYC showing the film?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 8, 2019 at 1:32 am

It seems to have played exclusively here for one week before going wide all over the metropolitan area.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 8, 2019 at 2:40 pm

Hello-

to Mike(saps)~ no offense against Brooklyn its a great borough but. I find it interesting that after The Robe’s 1st run engagement at the Roxy Fox would have booked it even if only for a week exclusively into the Albee. was there some special business relationship between Fox and the management of the Albee?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 8, 2019 at 7:25 pm

I think there are people on here more qualified than I to explain the important role played by the RKO Albee in its 50 year run as Brooklyn’s top exhibitor. (Perhaps tied with Loew’s Metropolitan…?)

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 9, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Prior to the 1960s, Downtown Brooklyn was a city in itself, packed with large department stores that attracted shoppers from all over the borough, as well as Queens and lower Manhattan. Starting with the Strand and Loew’s Metropolitan and followed by the Keith-Albee, Fox Theatre, and Brooklyn Paramount, it also became an entertainment mecca with exclusive first-run status, for a time even day-and-date with Broadway. After William Fox’s bankruptcy, the RKO circuit got the contract for Fox (and subsequent 20th-Fox) product, which is the reason why the Albee and not the Fox Theatre became the Downtown Brooklyn showcase for that studio. Taken over by Fabian, the Fox depended primarily on Warner Brothers and Columbia product. The Brooklyn Paramount still focused on Paramount releases, but with Fabian management instead of bankrupted Paramount-Publix. The Metropolitan remained solidly MGM and United Artists. In addition to Fox, the Albee also was the showcase for RKO Radio product. Universal product was usually split between the Albee and Metropolitan.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 9, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Hello-

many thanks to Comfortably Cool for the info. Sept. of 1973 to May of 1975 I went to Pratt Institute to get my Masters degree. if it was early enough after school I spent time in the Downtown Brooklyn shopping center. at that time this theater, the Loews Metropolitan and the Ablemarle were still in operation. I even shopped in the Abraham and Strauss Dept. store.

another question since you are a font of knowledge. isn't
the Alpine in Bay Ridge the oldest continually operated movie theater in all of NYC?

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 10, 2019 at 10:37 am

That could be true of the Alpine, but does anyone have an up-to-the minute listing of all cinemas currently operating in the five boroughs? I assume that with “NYC,” you mean Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island. The area’s daily newspapers have drastically reduced their movie coverage, probably in retaliation to the industry’s increasing abandonment of printed advertising.

Orlando
Orlando on July 19, 2019 at 11:20 am

Hey BigJoe'59 ….From Sept of 1973 to May of 75, all the downtowm theatres weroperating except the Fox, torn down within those months, the Paramount, Strand were closed in other uses. The Orpheum and Momart weretorn down in the early 1950’s. Loew’s and the RKO Albee, Duffield and Majestic were still open. You might be mistaking the Albemarle Theatre with the Albee. The Albemarle, Astor, Kings, Rialto (all Flatbush Ave.) and the Beverly, Kenmore and Granada (all Church Avenue) were all operating at this time. However the Kings and Rialto both closed on August 30 1977 along with the Astor. The Granada 1982, Albemarle in 1983 with the Beverly soon after. The RKO Kenmore was the holdout until 1999. Three of the Flatbush Avenue theatres all in a row are still intact… 1 for live shows and 2 as houses of worship. In order of condition it’s the Albemarle, Kings and the Rialto (the oldest at 103 years old looks like the day it opened (interior). The Albemarle is immaculately maintained inside and out (including power washing the bricks on the facade and side (every year!), the sidewalks and interior. No theatre gets that much tender loving care. I will not discuss the Kings for obvious reasons.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 19, 2019 at 2:23 pm

Hello-

to Orlando thanks for the info. also to Comfortably Cool when I said all of NYC I meant all five boroughs. in fact if they were still in operation both the Bunny and The Colosseum would have take the title from the Alpine. both theaters in Upper Manhattan closed rather recently.

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