Arcade Theatre

Steinway Street, near 31st Avenue,
Astoria, NY 11103

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1916 newspaper ad

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Arcade was one of Astoria’s earliest cinemas, and the nearest competition to the somewhat older Steinway Theatre. The Arcade also had an airdome that operated in spring/summer and was either adjacent to the 575-seat theatre or on the roof. Neither facility survived past the silent era. The premises were taken over for retail re-development. More information about the Arcade’s history, as well as an exact contemporary address for the site, are needed.

The Arcade’s original address was 325 Steinway Avenue (the Steinway Theatre, originally 345 Steinway Avenue, is now 31-08 Steinway Street for the building’s conversion to retail).

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 7, 2007 at 2:49 pm

The theatre first opened in 1892 as Horak’s Opera House, with Czech-immigrant Rudolph Horak as owner-manager. Despite its name, it was primarily a playhouse with its own resident company of actors. Horak also published a local newspaper and was one of the chief agitators for the construction of what became known as the Queensboro Bridge. Horak also built scores of private homes in the blocks surrounding the commercial area centered on Steinway Avenue. Although it seated only 600, Horak’s Opera House was never a financial success, and in the early 1900s he sold it for conversion into a nickelodeon called the Arcade. The Arcade closed in the mid-1920s and served as an assembly hall for local fraternal groups until it was demolished to make way for new retail buildings. I thank an article in the Long Island Daily Star of February 20,1931 issue (page 14) for this information.

AlexNYC on February 7, 2007 at 11:24 pm

Wow Warren, you really went digging for all that, didn’t you? You’re a plethora of information; thanks again.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 9, 2007 at 2:29 pm

This seems to have even more historical importance than I originally thought. When Rudolph Horak died in 1930 at age 73, an obituary in The New York Times said that Horak’s Opera House was the first theatre to be built in Queens, and gave an opening date of 1890 (two years earlier than the article in the LI Daily Star of 2/20/31). I suppose that the NYT claim could be true, but it needs to be verified. Horak’s Opera House might have been the first purpose-built theatre in Queens, but surely theatrical performances were held before that in other types of buildings.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 23, 2007 at 12:37 pm

The true opening date of Horak’s Opera House appears to be October 3rd, 1893, according to this report from the November 16th, 1893 issue of the Daily Star. The opera house occupied the second floor of a new building called Jackson Hall. I suspect that Jackson Hall and the upstairs opera house were eventually combined into one as the Arcade Theatre:

Bway on June 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm

This theater should not be listed as “demolished”, as it appears the building still stands.

Tinseltoes on June 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm

The Google Maps view is incorrect, and shows the premiseses of the former Steinway Theatre, which, since the departure of Dr. Jay’s, has become part of the Conway retail chain. The Arcade Theatre was in the block north of the Steinway Theatre, and on the same side of Steinway Street.

Tinseltoes on June 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Link to Steinway Theatre listing: cinematreasures

Tinseltoes on June 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm

This small jewelry store and adjacent Modell’s occupy at least part of the Arcade Theatre site: citysearch

Tinseltoes on September 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

The fixed Google Street view shows the original premises of the Steinway Theatre. After Dr. Jay’s vacated the retail conversion, the Conway chain moved in and is still current. Thw Arcade’s premises were a block north, adjacent to Modell’s in this photo: citysearch

Tinseltoes on September 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yikes!!! Three of the “Nearby Theatres” were across the East River in Manhattan!!! Loew’s Triboro, Astoria Theatre, and Steinway Theatre should be listed instead, and there were other Astoria theatres closer than the Manhattan ones listed.

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