United Palace of Cultural Arts

4140 Broadway,
New York, NY 10033

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United Palace Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The fifth and last of the Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” to be built in New York, Loew’s 175th Street Theatre was thought to be the most elaborate of architect Thomas Lamb’s endeavors. Originally seating 3,444 when it opened on February 22, 1930, the exterior of the building is in the style of a spectacular Neo-Assyrian fortress, taking up an entire city block, and has decorative features around the entire building. The walls of the auditorium are embellished with Indo-Chinese decoration, designed by Manhattan decorative specialist Harold Rambusch, which are perforated and have an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colored hidden lights behind. The foyer features a palatial staircase leading to a grandiose, aurora borealis headed by a goddess decoration, all in the style of a gaudy Hindu temple. The Loew’s 175th Street Theatre is the only ‘Wonder Theatre’ to retain its original Robert Morton 4 manual 23 ranks ‘Wonder’ organ in situ. Loew’s closed the 175th Street Theatre in March 1969.

The theatre became home to Christ United Church, founded by the late evangelist Reverend Ike, and was known as The Palace Cathedral for church services. In recent years it has also been used as a concert venue and is known as the United Palace when booked for such events.

In June 2013 a fundraising campaign was begun to purchase a digital projector, which will be used to screen independent, foreign and classic movies. This project was successful, and the first movie screened in the theatre for over 44 years is “Casablanca” on November 17, 2013. It is equipped with a 4k DCP projector, a 50ft wide screen and 5.1 surround sound. In July 2017 it was announced the Robert Morton organ would be removed from the building by the New York Theatre Organ Society to undergo a complete overhaul.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 253 comments)

guarina on May 9, 2015 at 9:03 pm

How depressing! I think I saw “Giant” with Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor there in an early February, there was a heavy snowfall.

guarina on May 9, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Tinseltoes, Then it must have been the RKO Coliseum. I remember Broadway was blocked by the snow, it was February 1st, we took a taxi coming out of the theater, but the driver stopped in front of the Presbyterian Medical Center and told us to get off, he couldn’t go on.

NYer on May 10, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis & Rose Byrne filmed a movie premiere party scene in the lobby here for the 2014 “Annie”. Shot in photo section.

JAlex on August 11, 2016 at 9:02 am

Brief lobby area shot appears in Woody Allen’s “Café Society.” Shot passes for a Hollywood movie palace.

npalmer on August 28, 2016 at 3:02 am

This YouTube clip shows the organ console being presented on stage prior to restoration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBJFNGj6Puw&feature=youtu.be

Lou_Lumenick on December 9, 2016 at 10:31 am

Just a note that I will be introducing “The Wizard of Oz'‘ here on Dec. 11. It’s the third film that will be shown with a much-upgraded sound system donated by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who introduced "Mary Poppins’‘ at the Palace in October. There’s an admission charge for the "Oz’‘ screenings, but there is a free open house from 12 to 4, including tours at 1:30 and 2:30.

Lou_Lumenick on December 9, 2016 at 10:34 am

Correction: It was the spectacular new DCP program system that was donated by Mr. Miranda. They are raising funds for the great new sound system, part of which is already there on approval.

MarkA on July 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm

GREAT NEWS! The New York Theatre Organ Society (NYTOS) has removed the theatre’s Robert Morton Wonder Organ for a top-to-bottom as-built restoration. This was the last of Wonder Organs built by the former Robert Morton Organ Company of Van Nuys CA. NYTOS has a special website about “Restoring the Wonder.” It can be found at: http://www.restoringthewonder.org/. The website is fabulous and should not be missed. When the Morton is reinstalled in the theatre, the number of New York City’s playing theatre organ original installations will increase to three, the other two being the Radio City Music Hall (Wurlitzer) and the now being restored Brooklyn Paramount Theater (Wurlitzer).

HowardBHaas on July 17, 2017 at 7:25 pm

website says Sept 10 City Lights with live organ. Will that still be held?

Orlando on September 13, 2017 at 8:03 am

The Sept. 10 screening of “City Lights” drew over 600 customers, some first time visitors were in awe of the theatre. It was preceeded by a Chaplin short “By The Sea” which was accompanied by the original organ on the lift which has been electrified. Thanks Mike Fitelstein.

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