Clifton Theatre

1034 Second Avenue,
New York, NY 10022

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As Clifton Playhouse (1943)

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Situated on Second Avenue near East 54th Street, this was one of Manhattan’s early cinemas, and originally known as the Pastime. Circa 1935-36, it was renovated and re-named the Clifton, with a policy of late-run double features changing several times per week.

More information about its history and the current status of the site is needed.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 6, 2006 at 9:02 am

A tiny ad from 1944 in the New York Times, wedged between ads for two other sub-run theatres. The Clifton’s management apparently considered Lassie a bigger boxoffice draw than Fred Astaire:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/clifton44.jpg

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 7, 2006 at 6:21 am

The 1926 FDYB also lists another Pastime Theatre, this one on the West Side at 336 Eighth Avenue (near 27th Street). This Pastime had only 300 seats and was no longer listed by the time of the 1932 FDYB. In later volumes, I could find no theatre of any name at that address, so the Pastime probably just closed as unsuited to conversion to “talkies.” I don’t know if the two theatres had any business connection. The name “Pastime” was fairly popular in the early days of penny arcades and nickelodeons.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 7, 2006 at 7:04 am

I won’t post about the other Pastime unless I can find more information about it. I would guess that it was there prior to 1926, which was only the first year that FDYBs started listing all cinemas in NYC and their addresses.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 13, 2006 at 1:52 pm

At the Lincoln Center PAL, I found a paper programme from 1915, when the Pastime claimed to be “A Photoplay Theatre as it should be.” In the schedule for the week of March 27, 1915, the programs changed daily and consisted of a feature film with several short subjects. The admission was 5 cents for all weekday matinees and up until 2PM on Saturdays. Sundays, holidays, and all evening performances were priced at 10 cents, and 5 cents for children. No mention was made of musical accompaniment for the films, but the Pastime probably had a piano or maybe even an organ.

organnyc
organnyc on August 22, 2006 at 12:06 pm

The Pastime Theatre had a 2-manual, 4-rank Wurlitzer “Style B” organ (with piano-style console), Opus 1416 (1925). This organ was moved in 1935 to the Fordham Skating Rink in the Bronx, which would coincide with the ca. 1935-36 renovation and renaming of the theatre.

organnyc
organnyc on August 22, 2006 at 2:10 pm

Disregard the above posting. Further research shows that the Wurlitzer was in the Pastime-Osborne Theatre in the Bronx. Does anyone know of this theatre’s location?

tomdelay
tomdelay on August 29, 2006 at 5:12 pm

Point of fact, the standard style B Wurlitzer was not equipped with a “piano-style console”. The style B normally had a stock 2 manual “circular” console with 3 pistons per manual. There were around 225 style B organs built.

The style 135 (around 203 built), also 2 manuals and 4 ranks did have a piano console as did the style 1,2,105,108,109,110,120,125,130,160,A,L,V midget style theatre organs by Wurlitzer. Around 500+ piano console Wurlitzer organs were built from 3 ranks to 8 ranks.

About the only real difference between a style B and a 135 was the console type and the fact that the style B had an extra 12 treble pipes for the 2' Flute Piccolo. There were probably some differences in the traps supplied, but those varied from instrument to instrument anyway.

organnyc
organnyc on August 29, 2006 at 5:22 pm

Tom DeLay — I stand corrected. The Wurlitzer Style B had 2 Manuals – 4 Ranks – 3 Tuned Percussions – 17 Traps – Curved Console. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 14, 2010 at 10:44 am

This is listed in the 1947 Film Daily Yearbook as the Knickerbocker.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 5, 2010 at 8:32 pm

From the NY Times, 1946

“‘Naughty-Naught’ will open at the Old Knickerbocker Music Hall (Formerly the Clifton Theatre) on second avenue and fifty-fourth street.”

As “the Knick”, it seems to have been mixture of movies, theatre and cabaret from 1946 to around 1951 when it became abandoned. In 1958 when they looked into re-opening it as a club they found a colony of homeless women living there without heat or water.

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