Subway Theater

158 Myrtle Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Bway on April 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Here’s a photo of the Subway Theater:

Click Here for Photo

PKoch on August 21, 2007 at 7:49 am

Thanks for your above post, EdSolero.

I think the term for the work of art installed in the abandoned Myrtle Avenue subway station is “zoetrope”.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 21, 2007 at 12:21 am

Warren posted a link to this forgotten-ny article about Albee Square over on the RKO Albee page. If you scroll down about 2/3 of the way you’ll come across a large vintage B&W image of the Flatbush Avenue Extension looking towards the elevated Myrtle Avenue subway line. At the far right is a canopy that reads “Photo Plays” belonging to the old Subway Theater. If you compare to Ken Roe’s 2006 photos above, you’ll see the same arch detail on the facade above where the canopy used to be. Ken actually describes this as a bricked-in exit door, with the original entrance located around the corner on Myrtle Avenue. I’m not sure if this doorway was used as an auxilliary entrance or if the canopy was merely installed for advertising purposes – since Flatbush Avenue Extension was unfettered by the El tracks.

The photo also clearly illustrates PKoch’s observation that the underground Myrtle Avenue subway station (you can make out the large signage for the station entrance just beyond the theater canopy) was distinct from the elevated Myrtle Avenue line.

PKoch on June 12, 2007 at 2:18 pm

Thanks, KenRoe, for posting these.

The closed and abandoned Myrtle Avenue station was on a subway line (B ? D ? N ? Q ? W ?) that runs under Flatbush Avenue and thence under the Manhattan Bridge, and has a kinescopic Keith Haring – type work of art set up on it (I saw it in December 1980)in which successive views of slightly different images through narrow slits gives the illusion of motion, like stop-motion animation. The precise technical term for this escapes me.

But it was NOT on the now defunct and demolished Myrtle Avenue el, which ran over Myrtle Avenue until October 3, 1969.

PKoch on June 22, 2006 at 5:09 am

Thanks, KenRoe.

The chicken take-a-way was a Kennedy Fried Chicken, I think.

“Take-a-way” instead of “take-out” ? You’re a Brit ! More power to you !

God save the Queen !

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 21, 2006 at 5:45 pm

The Subway Theatre was re-named Ace Theatre from 1949 and closed in 1950.

Back in the 1920’s the currently closed up chicken take-a-way on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Flatbush Extension was an Oyster Restaurant.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 21, 2006 at 4:31 pm

Currently as seen in June 2006, the Subway Theatre building still stands. The triangular site which contains several other small buildings is now totally closed up and awaiting imminent demolition.

The entrance to the Subway Theatre remains standing at 158 Myrtle Avenue, whilst around the corner was a subsidiary entrance/exit at 243 Flatbush Extension, that in recent years has been in use as Studio 243 Bar & Lounge. The auditorium of the Subway Theatre has been rendered over externally and actually looks like a recent building, but looking at the rear-side of it the brickwork is very old there there is some sort of old apperatus on the roof which looks like an ancient cooling sytem. The last use for the auditorium was as a 24 Hours Car Wash facility.

Just to the left of the 243 Bar & Lounge and to the right of the corner chicken eatery (which was never the theatre entrance), is the bricked up entrance to the abandoned Myrtle Avenue subway station.

Theaterat on May 23, 2005 at 11:38 am

Astynax….While growing up in NY in the early 60s(when I was able to go to the movies alone or with friends), I never remembered any segregated theaters anywhere.None of the big movie palaces in Brooklyn or even Manhattan had any restricted seating policies. Actually, it all very democratic( in the true meaning of the word}. You bought your ticket, you went in, and you saw the show.My friends from grade school were a mixed group, both racially and ethnically, and we never encountered any problems whatsoever.

Astyanax on April 29, 2005 at 5:47 pm

Since overt and covert segragation was generally common in the post-war era, I am curious as to whether there were any restricted seating policies for minorities in the big movie palaces, or the major theatre chains before the civil rights movement of the 60’s.

rdittus on September 8, 2004 at 8:23 pm

The building where the chicken take-out place stands could very well have been an entrance area and it does meet the address criteria. This must have been a small theater. I am guessing that it extended back to something that may have later served as a car dealership based on an advertisement painted on the building (I thought it said “show”, but looked closer and realized it was “showroom”). A porion may also have been either demolished or rearranged as part of a car wash.

rdittus on August 11, 2004 at 7:39 pm

I know the building that was referred to earlier. It is on the corner and some of the exterior stonework could be considered theater-like. I will have to take a closer look. It is now several storefronts, including the already mentioned chicken take-out place.

Camden on July 15, 2004 at 6:37 pm

Both the Selma and Watts were in ‘65, which means I was being optimistic by a year or two, since it took a while for these changes to filter through the average small southern city.

Another story from a very different but surprisingly recent time: when the local black high school wanted to post their sports scores in the newspaper, or when a black family wanted to run an obituary for a deceased member in the newspaper, they had to run it in the form of a paid advertisement. Otherwise, the newspaper wouldn’t carry them.


PeterKoch on July 15, 2004 at 7:10 am

Thank you, Camden, for your comment. “None of this changed until around 1965 or so.” Interesting that it took as long as it did for Federal laws making segregation illegal passed in the mid-1950’s to be implemented throughout the USA. When were the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama ? 1964 ? 1965 ? Did the Watts, L.A. riots occur in 1965 ?

Camden on July 14, 2004 at 6:25 pm

Yes, I’m from a small city down south and can remember the days when black people would have to sit in the balconies of the theatres, ride in the back of the bus, and not use the water fountains unless they were clearly marked. Many of the restaurants would serve their black clientele with only food to go, through a small hinged door in the back of the place called the “dog hatch.” None of this changed until around 1965 or so. A totally different world. It’s unbelievable but true.


PeterKoch on May 3, 2004 at 11:53 am

I think the name came solely from the now abandoned Myrtle Avenue subway station on the subway lines that ran under Flatbush Avenue and over the Manhattan Bridge. There was no direct connection to the Myrtle Avenue elevated that I know of : there was Navy St. station to the east, named after the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Bridge-Jay to the west, but no Myrtle el station directly over Flatbush Avenue. See for more details if you wish.

Interesting to know of this sub-category of “Negro” theaters. Hopefully not Jim Crow or apartheid in Bklyn, rather, theaters of African-American interest ?

philipgoldberg on May 2, 2004 at 5:20 pm

I recently discovered that this theater’s building might still exist. The entrance sits on the Southeast corner of Flatbush and Myrtle in what is now a fast-food chicken restuarant, Behind it is a building that looks like it could’ve been a theater. WIndows have been cut into it. Its name most likely came from the old—now extinct—Myrtle Avenue Line which connected to the also now extinct Myrtle Avenue Station on the Brighton Line (between Dekalb and the Manhattan Bridge.)

William on November 17, 2003 at 2:04 pm

The Subway Theatre was located at 158 Myrtle Ave. and it seated 586 people.