RKO Alden Theatre

165-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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RKO Alden Theatre

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Located on Jamaica Avenue at 165th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens. The Shubert Jamaica Theatre was opened on December 31, 1928, as a live theatre for the Shubert Brothers. It was not a great success, and after a short period as a burlesque theatre, was soon renamed Alden Theatre, operating as a movie theatre. It was taken over by the RKO Theatres chain in the mid-1930’s. It was last operated as a quad many years ago.

Contributed by SteveSmith

Recent comments (view all 167 comments)

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on September 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

The address ribbon across the top of the introduction has one “Jamaica” too many. And why include a Flushing cinema as a “Nearby Theater” when several theatres right there in Jamaica are unlisted, such as the Merrick, Savoy, Skouras Jamaica, and Loew’s Hillside?

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on September 12, 2012 at 9:34 am

More importantly, some of the introductory “facts” need to be corrected. Herbert J. Krapp was the architect (not Charles Sandblom). The theatre first opened as the Shubert Jamaica on 12/31/28. It quickly flopped as a “legit” playhouse and had a brief flirtation with burlesque before an indie management took over and turned it into a cinema called the Alden. RKO bought control in the mid-1930s, when the theatre finally became the RKO Alden.

Willburg145
Willburg145 on October 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I doubt the interior is still intact. I remember going to a DMV office located in what probably was the auditorium. As I recall the lobby was located on Jamaica and the theatre on the side street. Does anyone know what the interior was like?

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on October 6, 2012 at 7:15 am

I posted an image of the auditorium in the Photos Section for this listing. I have a feeling that many readers are missing the photos because most of them are not displayed as part of this page. And I don’t think that alerts are sent out as they are for the comments page. Unless one goes to the Photo Section, you won’t know what new photos have been posted. I’ve also noticed that since the Photos Section was added, we seem to have attracted a new sort of member who only posts photos and rarely or never makes comments.

robboehm
robboehm on October 7, 2012 at 5:11 am

What’s wrong with that? We need more photos and less of some of the comments.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on October 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I think TT’s point that visitors to this site can easily overlook the picture sections and just go straight to the comment section is well taken and that it makes sense to remind us of this resourse. (I know that I was quite slow in appreciating the value of the photo section when CT was upgraded.) So let’s both encourage the posting of new pictures as well as good comments in going forward.

LugosiResearch
LugosiResearch on December 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm

On Monday 1 January 1951, Bela “Dracula” Lugosi presented his in person Horror and Magic Stage show at RKO Alden. Currently I am conducting research on all things Lugosi; if anyone out there actually saw this show and/or has memorabilia (poster, handbill, photos) related to this show, please contact Bill at Thanks in advance for any assistance!

techman707
techman707 on May 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm

LugosiResearch,

I believe that Bela Lugosi did the same show at the RKO Keith’s in Richmond Hill.

techman707
techman707 on May 1, 2013 at 9:20 pm

“Willburg145 on October 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm I doubt the interior is still intact. I remember going to a DMV office located in what probably was the auditorium. As I recall the lobby was located on Jamaica and the theatre on the side street. Does anyone know what the interior was like?”

I had the MISFORTUNE of working as a projectionist at the Alden for a few years after it was “quaded”. The motor vehicle office was NOT in the theatre building, it was a separate NEW building.

robboehm
robboehm on February 25, 2014 at 7:09 am

Ad from February 24, 1929 uploaded to photos. The, at that time, Shubert. Ad for nearby neighbor Valencia, too.

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