Jackson Heights Airdrome

82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue,
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

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According to a history of Jackson Heights website, the Jackson Heights Airdrome was the first motion picture theater in Jackson Heights section of Queens. The opening year is given as 1919. I believe that the website’s source for this information is “A Garden in the City” by Daniel Karatzas.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

Altoblanco on June 20, 2006 at 4:59 pm

I love the comment by “Bway”. This is just getting TOO funny!

If I may DARE to add my two cents regarding the previous “Jackson Heights vs. Elmhurst” debate…

I was born and lived in Elmhurst until I was six years old.
I continue to visit Jackson Heights frequently as an adult (as I have for the last 13 years).

I know of a bar (“Music Box”) located just off the SOUTHwest corner of Roosevelt Ave. and Broadway. It uses Jackson Heights as its location in all of its advertising. If you “search engine” it online, you will find websites listing it in both locations. If you search official NYS corporation records under its former name (“Montana Saloon”), it will be listed as Elmhurst. To save time: here is the link to that entry:
View link

Unless the official boundaries have changed, it could perhaps be argued that Broadway is the dividing line.

However, located just three blocks away (south-east direction) on the NORTH side of Broadway is Elmhurst General Hospital.

Also, a now-defunct nightclub that used to be located a few steps SOUTH of Roosevelt Ave. and four blocks NORTH of Broadway at 82-20 Baxter Ave. (“Llamarada” – now a laundromat) can be found by Internet search engine listed as either a Jackson Heights or Elmhurst location (incidentally, this address is located immediately east of 82nd St.).

Bottom line: many businesses south of Roosevelt Ave. (along or adjacent to) collectively use Jackson Heights because it is a popular, well-known shopping & business district. This is especially true of the bars, nightclubs and restaurants, which comprise the majority of businesses there. For many customers, Jackson Heights is considered a “destination” – Elmhurst is not.

The debate continues…

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 20, 2006 at 6:36 pm

I definitely think that commercial interests along the 82nd Street corridor (whether north or sout of Roosevelt) will always refer to themselves as being in Jackson Heights. Everything along that little wedge of blocks between Broadway and Baxter down to 41st Ave is probably fair game for that affiliation (whether technically correct or not). I don’t think I’d go all the way down to the Port Washington LIRR line as Warren suggests (which runs through Elmhurst and Corona below 43rd Ave), but I think the area where the Jackson Theater sits is fair game.

mikemorano on June 26, 2006 at 2:22 pm

During the time period these theatres were built airdrome was the correct word to describe them. Airdrome is the european version of airdome. Similar to airplane versus aeroplane. Another example would be theater versus theatre. Since these early theatres were for the most part designed and constructed by european immigrants the term airdrome is correct.

MarkieS on July 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Same problem with The Fair theatre at Astoria Blvd. and 90th St. The theatre itself claims it’s in Jackson Heights, but it’s actually East Elmhurst. And so it goes.

Tinseltoes on September 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

This outdoor venue operated for about four weeks in the summer of 1919 and was never heard from again. I don’t think that any of the “Nearby Theaters” even existed at the time! That confusing and inaccurate CT feature should be scrapped until some solution can be found to the problem.

Tinseltoes on September 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Jackson Heights is one of many communities which are listed incorrectly in the address ribbon at the top of each listing. After “New York,” there is no need to have “Jackson Heights” followed by another “Jackson Heights.” The first “Jack Heights,” followed by the name of the theatre, is sufficient.

CSWalczak on September 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I do not see why it should matter at all that the theaters listed under nearby theaters existed at different times. It seems to me comparable to a person’s writing, say, in a particular theater’s introductory headnote something like this: “The X Theater opened in 1915. It was torn down in 1932 and the Y theater was built on part of the site, and its sister theater, the Z was built two blocks away in 1940.”

The point of the list to help readers to develop an image of an area where multiple theaters existed which I think is highly valuable. I would agree that theaters that were not in near proximity should not appear in the list, but this is a matter, which like any other inaccurate detail, can be corrected. I think the feature is quite valuable and I am sure that, over time, each listing will become more accurate as the method and algorithm of establishing these lists becomes more sophisticated.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm

CSWalcsak, I agree with you completely on the value of the “nearby theaters” list. It does seem to me, however, that the way the individual theaters are organized in the database is in need of an overhaul. But, this is a free site, and I’m sure coming up with a viable solution is something that requires more than a little bit of money to solve. It would be interesting to hear an update from site administration as to any scheduled or “wish list” enhancements and modifications to the web site. That sort of communication seemed to die down in the months following the major overhaul of the site a couple of years back.

Tinseltoes on September 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

In this particular case, the venue wasn’t even a theatre. It occupied a vacant plot of land, and had a screen, wooden benches for seats, and a portable projection system. And performances were only held in fair weather and just at night. There is also dispute over whether the actual spelling was “Airdrome” or “Airdome.” Examples of both can be found in press reports of the time.

CSWalczak on September 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I guess I am still missing the point. Whether spelled ‘airdomes’ or ‘airdromes’, these theaters existed in significant numbers, particularly in the silent era, before the advent of air-conditioning and were often seasonal or short-lived operations. One list I came across lists over twenty in NYC alone, c. 1913). There is some history of airdomes/airdromes here.

Regardless of whether they were temporary or lacked plush or fixed seating, why should they not be listed? They are an important part of film exhibition history (especially in a number of American cities), which is all the more important because they were so ephemeral.

Here on CT there are listed a temporary ‘boat-in’ theater as well as a temporary outdoor theater in Hong Kong with beanbags for seating. The definition of what constitutes a ‘theater’ here on CT appears to be very (and, in my view, justifiably) broad.

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