AMC Loews Fresh Meadows 7

190-02 Horace Harding Boulevard,
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365

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Meadows Theatre original exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This large theater, which sits along the Long Island Expressway, began its life on November 23, 1949. It was a giant 2,184-seat suburban movie palace serving a 3,000-family, middle income housing project in Fresh Meadows, Queens, New York.

It was constructed by the firm of Voorhies, Walker, Foley & Smith and was built for Century Theaters which had the automobile in mind when it constructed an adjoining parking lot with space for 1,000 cars.

The theater itself contained an enormous auditorium with a balcony, a large lobby and foyer, and a lounge in the theater’s mezzanine.

The modern opulence of the Meadows, and its late-1940’s stylings, have been lost over the years as the former Century Theatres movie house has slowly morphed into a seven-screen multiplex.

Now operated by AMC Theatres, the ghost of its former operators, Cineplex Odeon, can still be seen in the theater’s marquee.

The AMC Loews Fresh Meadows 7, as it is now known, was located near a five-screen Loews theater on the other side of the Long Island Expressway that recently closed.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 150 comments)

CinemaDude on March 1, 2014 at 6:14 am

No idea why they ditched the expansive, lighted marquee, but all that is left of what is seen in the picture above is what looks like a crude painted board with the big letters AMC covering the original marquee. No film titles are displayed. The original FRESH MEADOWS neon sign on the top of the brick north facing wall is only partially lit with the letters ADO dark. It truly has gone down hill while the prices, as noted here, have soared.

This Century Fresh Meadows and the Skouras Bayside Theatre were my two theatre haunts as a kid growing up in Bayside. The Bayside was a second run house while Century’s Fresh Meadows was first run and they made no bones about claiming it was a Century “Flagship Theatre.” And indeed it was.

Like Michael K, my mom took me to see THE HOUES OF WAX in 3D with stereo sound; my first 3d experience. If movies were magic and indeed for me they were, then 3D was magic on steroids. I was mesmerized by the feeling of depth of 3D just as much as I had been listening to my first stereophonic recording (an experimental simulcast on WQXR on their AM (right ear) and FM (left ear) stations. For me 3D was as enthralling for my sight as stereo sound was for sound; I have been a fan of 3D ever since THE HOUSE OF WAX — having the new 3D BluRay THOW release now available to play at home, well, it’s just come full circle.

Back then I couldn’t for the life of understand what I considered totally insane complaints about “the glasses” (they still seem insane — people wear sunglasses all the time with nary a complaint); as far as I was concerned, these people were just wusses — my complaining parents included. As I kid I knew I would wear a space helmet if it would give me the incredible experience of 3D space. I forced my poor mom to sit thru THOW twice and then I went back Saturday and Sunday to see it over and over. I remember saying to my mom, “Now all movies will be like this…in 3D?” She said she didn’t know and seemed to care less, while I, on the other hand sought out everything I could find about 3D and how it worked, all due to that experience in the Century Fresh Meadows Theatre, Queens NY circa 1953.

Anyway, the Meadows was my home away from home and when it closed for more than a week to install CinemaScope, I would go down to the theatre every afternoon after school to see if I could sneak in. The workers would leave the side doors open, and I got my first look at what this “Miracle You See Without Glasses” was all about. This was Fox’s obvious ploy to make people think it was, in fact 3D.

The workers were constructing the screen frame; usually I’d get shooed away, but not before I got a glimpse of the new CinemaScope installation. When they finally opened with THE ROBE, this time my Dad took me and yes, when it hit the screen, that beautiful new cream colored satin curtain opened wider and wider and the sound fill the theatre all around me. It was impressive, but it WASN’T 3D. I kept pull at my dad’s jacket, “Daddy, this isn’t 3D.” Finally he told me to shut up and watch the move. I wan’t a happy pup. Then again, I was impressed with CinemaScope, just cheated by the marketing nonsense. And I LOVED that new curtain.

Later in life, when I designed the cinema installation at a performing arts center in Brooklyn, I insisted that we have a white cream satin curtain with the same blue and red lighting that the Meadows used along the top and bottom of the curtain to catch the light and mix into various hues of blue and purple and red. A tribute I suppose to my youth and those wonderful formative years and hours spent in the great single screens of a time gone by, what I call the Golden Age of the Movie Palace.

When the Fresh Meadows as butchered into a 7 screen plex, I went there one time only; the rooms were small, dank, holes-in-the-walls, characterless, lifeless and hurtfully depressing — movie theatres by assembly line. That was the first and last time went. Now I just pass it on the LIE and I give it a nod, remembering what it used to be and my connection to it.

When you think of what the movie experience was like going to those great ladies — the Fresh Meadows, the RKO Keiths, the Paramount on Main Street, the Loews Valencia in Jamaica and on and on…even the lowly Bayside Theatre which, even when it had gotten a bit worn around the edges, it had it’s own unique style; it had class. They each even had their own unique scent — you knew you were in a theatre the minute you walked in the lobby. When you think about those days, it is easy to understand how much has really been lost….quite literally, an era Gone With The Wind.

robboehm on March 1, 2014 at 11:27 am

If you ever get to eastern Long Island try to attend a performance or a film at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (Westhampton Theater). It’s not huge but it’s intact and a jewel box. Sag Harbor has a nice interior too (see photos on CT).

RobertR on March 11, 2014 at 9:40 am

The new marquee is DISGUSTING. If you don’t know its a movie theatre driving by on the LIE you wont now.

Jeffrey1955 on March 11, 2014 at 9:50 am

CinemaDude, THANK YOU for that wonderful post!

DARCYDT on June 3, 2014 at 8:00 pm

I seem to write this every few months now. A year ao I was shocked at prices here and I posted in January that the prices had gone up again. Here we are 5 months later and now the pre 11:50 am showings have risen to $8, the matinees till 3:50 have gone up another dollar to $13.25 and after 4 or so it’s now $15, $19 for 3D. Is this the priciest theater in New York City for regular showings at night?

CenturyBill on August 7, 2014 at 11:37 pm

My first job was as an usher here in May 1972. We wore tuxedos and Mr. Bernard Decatsky was the manager. John Vess a was Chief of Staff with his brother Mike, Larry Ackerman and Ed Monahagn. Ed Bernhardt was managing the Prospect in Flushing and Mr Jackson was the DM. I became Mr. D’S Asst Mgr and we moved to the Prospect when it became a duplex. Eventually left and went to the Navy. Great times at this theater and at the Horn & Harare which became a Bagel Nosh. Sorry to hear that it’s down on it’s luck.

DARCYDT on October 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Back on June 3rd I made comments about the price rises and how frequent they were. Today I went to “Fury” here and before 11:55 AM the prices are $8.99. Not even a rounded up dollar. The evening showings are now $15.99, $19.99 with 3D. The theater is crowded too at these prices as opposed to say the one in Glen Cove, recently renovated and only $6 till 5 PM. That theater hardly as anyone there, biggest recent crowd I saw was 11 for the Equalizer opening week. Flushing Main Street charges $5 for the first show and it never really has many people. The girl taking the tickets told the couple in front of me that there was no more senior discount either.

DARCYDT on October 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm

According to Fandango there are senior rates still and lower rates for kids. Kids rate at night is $13.29.

NYer on November 2, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Charlton Heston & Co-Star Tina Chen made a live personal appearance on opening night of “The Hawaiians”, a sequel to “Hawaii” on July 17, 1970. Opening night add in Photo section.

CenturyBill on November 2, 2014 at 5:23 pm

I remember Charlton Heston and going to that movie with my father. JHS 74 had our graduation there when they were showing Ryans Daughter. Thinking back I didn’t know that my first job would be there and be such a part of my life!

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