State Theater

2854 John F. Kennedy Boulevard,
Jersey City, NJ 7306

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UA State Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located near Journal Square, the State Theater opened on April 24, 1922, designed by architect Percy A. Vivarttas with a classic Greek temple-inspired exterior and a refined Colonial or Adamesque interior. This was a large theater which had a very large mezzanine lounge. Against one wall of this lounge, the movie was projected by means of a mirror system from the projection booth.

There was also a hole in the center part of the floor of the lounge which looked out upon the orchestra audience below. This theater had one of the largest Moeller organs ever installed in any theater, and it also contained a music and dance school at one time.

In 1948, while under the ownership of Skouras Theatres, it was remodeled to the plans of Jules Catsiff.

This was Jersey City’s first real movie palace and was sadly demolished in 1997.

Contributed by Gabe Della Fave

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

dcaprio
dcaprio on September 25, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I can think of very few childhood memories that can outdo what happened to me at the State Theater on Journal Square in 1966. At age 5 my entire life as well as that of my 7 year old brother revolved completely around Batman. The 1960’s TV show was our focus and fixation. All our friends were equally hypnotized and Batman was often the theme of our games and dreams. In 1966 the Batman movie was released to cash in on the Batman craze. As the movie played to sold out movie houses across the country packed with kids screaming for the caped crusaders, actors Adam West and Burt Ward would often appear live on stage to promote the movie. Somehow my dad managed to score tickets and as my brother and I sat watching the movie, about 10 minutes into the film, the screen went dark and the stage lights came on. I’ll never forget the words of the man onstage. He said, “Okay kids, here they are, Batman and Robin!” I don’t think anybody heard anything after that as the audience of 4 – 12 year olds went wild, yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs. All except for me that is. My dad recalls how I sat frozen in my chair with my mouth wide open in utter amazement as batman and the boy wonder proceeded to greet us with words of good wishes and advice on being a good boy or girl. That day at the State Theater will always be embossed in my mind as a shining moment of childhood glory. To this day whenever I see a rerun of that series I remember that experience. I have the movie on DVD and now my own two boys ages 8 & 12 watch it with similar enthusiasm. I still feel the magic of that Saturday afternoon in 1966 whenever I tell them about it. While I also have fond memories of the nearby Lowes and Stanley theaters and movies I watched there (like Mary Poppins at the Lowes), the day Batman and Robin jumped on the stage at the State Theater will always be my greatest memory of Journal Square entertainment.

itswagon
itswagon on April 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

As an old projectionist, I’d appreciate knowing more about the mirror system that enabled the projection of the movie on the wall of the lounge (see above) in the State Theater. The source of the image was in the projection booth. I found it very interesting, curious, and unusual. The Roxy (New York City) had a screen installed above the lighting panel on the stage that enabled the lighting technician to view the orchestra from the area of the balcony or loge so that he (or she) could adjust the lighting to compliment the mood of the scene (E.g. blues and greens for scary and browns and reds for love and good feelings). The theater also used the lighting system to save money on heating and cooling. It was cheaper to heat the place, patrons felt less cold when the auditorium lighting used reds and browns. The air conditioning costs could be reduced if the theater used blues and greens in the lighting. I believe it was more effective for audience appeal than smell-o-vision.

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on January 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Stillwagon, I remember that lounge “screen” like it was yesterday. It seemed like it wasn’t much effort to project the film on a flat white wall in the mezzanine lounge. I remember it had a violet hue (if that makes any sense). It was about 12 feet high by 30 feet wide, as I recall. A very nice feature, many people chose to watch the movie in this lounge.

The Loew’s Jersey had the best light show in Journal Square. I as recall the coves over the orchestra and under the balcony seating could be lit in any color—most often in violet, red, and gold. Radio City also has “mood lighting.”

The Stanley in Journal Square was your typical (though huge) Eberson atmospheric house with clouds projected on the ceiling with “stars” twinkling.

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on January 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Does anyone have any interior photos of this theatre? Would love to see them. I remember this great old theatre very well. I was in it a lot when I was a kid. Clearly remember seeing “Live and Let Die,” “Gone With The Wind” (with my parents and sister), a “Planet of the Apes” marathon, and “The Bad News Bears” here in the 1970s.

countup
countup on September 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

i was sad when i heard that the roof of the state collopsed ,and they had to tear it down. it maybe could have been preserved, likt the loews and stanley

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on September 5, 2012 at 6:34 am

I saw one movie there when I lived in Jersey City in 1977 Pete’s Dragon

CAD
CAD on May 6, 2013 at 12:47 am

When exactly did this theater stop showing movies? I was born in Jersey City and I remember seeing Evil Dead II (1987) in one of the two theaters in Journal Square. I thought it might have been the Loew’s Jersey Theatre, which I had gone to before (I clearly remember Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on the marquee), but they closed in 1986, so it must have been at the State. Now it’s a 99ยข store…for shame.

rfd24
rfd24 on July 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I began a lifelong love affair with Barbra Streisand when I saw “Funny Girl” at the State in February 1970. I will never forget the finale when she sang “My Man.”. Other films I rememberbseeing at the State: “Mary Poppins” 1964 or 1965; “Sleeper” in ‘73, and “Patton"in 1970.

ajp919
ajp919 on August 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm

My favorite memory – “The House on Haunted Hill” with Emergo, the skeleton that flew over the heads of the audience near the end of the picture and then was rewound back into its box by Vincent Price holding what looked like a giant fishing rod. Just great.

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