City Cinemas Village East
181 Second Avenue,
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City Cinema’s beautifully restored Village East was once the home of Yiddish theater in its 1,200-seat auditorium. Legend has it that Walter Matthau began his film career here as a young boy working at the concession counter.
Its past is still evident in the Moorish designs that adorn both the inside and outside of the theater. Yiddish writing outside the lobby and a large star of David in the dome of the main auditorium further infuse atmosphere into the historic building. By the late-1930’s it was operating as a movie theatre, named Century Theatre (listed as (Closed) in 1941 & 1943). By 1950, it had reopened as a movie theatre renamed Stuyvesant Theatre, with a seating capacity for 1,082.
Today in the basement below the original ornate theater and lobby, four screening rooms have been added with seating provided in screen 2;187, screen 3;179, screen 4;130 and screen 5;66. A further two screens have been added on the former stage area of the theatre, which are stacked one on top of the other. The screen on top has wonderful stadium seating, a decent size screen, and is a very nice theatre in itself. It is not as beautiful as the main auditorium, but does have exposed brickwork and some character.
With New York City’s lack of a still-operating historic movie palace, the Village East is the closest thing around.
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