Chopin Theatre

910 Manhattan Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11222

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Gabi Gonzalez
Gabi Gonzalez on April 24, 2017 at 12:24 am

Hello fellow movie theater lovers,

I’m doing a project for my photojournalism class at NYU about closed down independent movie theaters in New York. I hope to gain information about people’s past experiences at these movie theaters, recollections of favorite memories or not so great experiences, perhaps economical insight, contacts with owners/managers, etc. On a larger level, I hope my project is able to show the significance of the role that these establishments play in our city and the importance of keeping them afloat.

If anyone would be willing to answer a few questions via email about your personal memories at the theater, please let me know! It could be as simple as recounting a favorite movie you remember seeing back when it was open. I would greatly appreciate your insight.

You can contact me at:


Bway on October 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

I guess I am “trained” now on how theaters operate, but I do understand what you are saying. When I was a kid, we would just go to the movie theater and just spend all day there. Gone are the days of going to a beautiful movie Palace like the Madison, Ridgewood, Oasis, Elmwood, or fill in a blank…. Kids today will never know the feeling of walking into a large building like that chosing between the balcony or downstairs, and coming into the dark building with the credits from the showing before going….

johndereszewski on October 23, 2011 at 5:28 am

While the concept isn’t inherently unwise, I just don’t think it was a good fit for Greenpointers – at least with the Greenpointers of that time. These were people who did not pay much attention to movie starting times and just went to the theater when they could get out. If the movie was just about to start, fine; but if the show was in mid-run, you would just see the rest of it and catch the beginning of the film on the next showing. Given this approach, the practice of forcing people to leave at the end of every performance would raise problems.

Bway on October 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I wonder if that really was a foolish practice, and I wonder why more theaters didn’t do it. While I can totally understand some of the negatives (large 2 hour+ gap between showing times for a movie – meaning that if you couldn’t make the 7:00 showing the next one would be before 11:00, and that’s if the movies shown are under 2 hours). Some of the positives would be that they could in essence make the theater a “twin” without having two screens. If people didn’t care for one of the movies showing, perhaps they would like the other, meaning that week you wouldn’t lose that patron.

johndereszewski on October 22, 2011 at 7:27 am

Just caught your recent comment, Willburg145. I was surprised about your remark that the Chopin had actually been twinned and wonder whether you had the correct theater in mind. As far as I remember, the Chopin remained a single screen theater until the end and that the only thing “twin” about it was the odd – and not very wise – policy, described in the introduction, of showing fifferent pictures after another and forcing the patrons to either leave or pay a separate price at the end of each performance. If you – or any other commenter – have any further evidence to the contrary to share, please do so.

Willburg145 on June 13, 2011 at 11:26 am

I went to the this theater several times. I saw MIDNIGHT EXPRESS there. I also saw a movie with Farah Fawcett (her husband was murdered) I recall that by that time it was indeed a twin with separate screens.

johndereszewski on November 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Bway, again good to hear from you. I think you would like the Starbucks if you ever pass by this way. They did a nice job in creating what could have otherwise been a pretty dreary place.

Regarding the old Meserole, I have been there many times and agree that it retains the essence of the old movie palace. A few nice accounts of its current situation appear on its CT page.

Hope all is otherwise well – and talk soon.

Bway on November 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I have been in the Burger King when it was there, and remember there was a side entrance, as well as the one under the marquee. It was also decorated sort of “film” which was neat. I have not been in there since it became Starbucks.
Have you been in the old Meserole across the street which is now a drug store? That place is really neat, and is very intact. When I was there some years ago, they were even projecting slides of sales on the old screen area!

johndereszewski on November 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Hello Chris. Good to hear from you.

As best as I can determine, the Starbucks coffee shoppe takes up both all of the old lobby area – which was a pretty modest affair to begin with – as well as the rear area of the old movie theater. The remainder of the theater is currently used – if it is used at all – for storage or for the non-public portion of the Starbucks store. The disco is clearly only situated on the second floor. My guess is that any portion of the old Chopin that is not in use has pretty much been altered beyond recognition.

Bway on November 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

So if the disco isn’t in the old theater, what takes up the old theater space location? The Starbucks and burger king only took up the lobbies if I am not mistaken.

johndereszewski on November 15, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Thanks for the article. I must have missed it.

In response to the “terrified” Starbucks fan, one should respond that only multi-plexes situated in the “new” 42nd Street have bedbug problems!

The article is wrong in asserting that a disco was situated in the old theater before it became a Burger King and then a Starbucks. Instead, a disco continues to occupy the building’s second floor, which was never part of the movie house and previously hosted a bowling alley and a bingo hall. (I believe the old Strand Theatre building on Fulton St. also hosted a second floor bowling alley. I would not have wanted to watch a movie with bowling balls rolling over my head!)

By the way, as I noted in a previous comment, the Starbucks people actually did a pretty nice job in designing the coffee house. It has a somewhat arty cinematic theme with bare brick walls. It could have been a lot worse.

johndereszewski on February 12, 2010 at 7:00 pm

TT, thanks so much for filling in the blanks. So while 1939 is considered the “year of the great movies”, I suspect that “The Lady From Kentucky” did not make that list! But what a wonderful picture of that long gone summer!

In thinking of second story bowling alleys, I do remember that the old Lowery Lanes in Sunnyside were situated on that level. But only retail stores, not a movie theater, were situated on the first floor of that Queens Boulevard venue. I also believe that a bowling alley was once situated under the old Drake Theater in Rego Park. But I just cannot imagine another movie theater that had to tolerate the presence of a bowling alley situated just above it.

johndereszewski on February 11, 2010 at 9:14 am

TT, I think you are right about the time sequence. For one thing, the second floor had ceased to be used as a Billiard Parlour/Bowling Alley – as depicted on the sign – well before the late 1940’s, by which time it was either vacant or was being utilized as a bingo hall. (Can you imagine anyone trying to enjoy a movie with an active bowling alley situated just above the ceiling?. Can anyone come up something else remotely similar to this?)

I was able to gleam some information from the posters that might help date the photo. One seems to depict a film – probably a B level drama – called Prison Train that starred someone named Fred Keating. The main film – the title of which I cannot read – starred George Raft (above the title) and Ellen Drew (below it). I don’t think George Raft’s name often appeared above the title after the early 1940’s, and he probably only made a few films with Ellen Drew.

While the exact date is unclear, one can clearly see that the photo was shot in the summer. Not only are the kids near the entrance dressed for summer but nearly all the windows in the building to the right, which might have served as the local precinct or an American Legion hall at that time, are open.

By the way, in addition to the photo of the old American, the link provided by Tinseltoes also contains a number of interesting photos that are certainly worth a look.

johndereszewski on February 10, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Thanks, TT. By the looks of the end of the car – not a very definitive indicia – I would say that this picture was taken sometime in the late 1940’s or the early 1950’s. I do not remember the rather elaborate awning when I first became acquainted with this theater in the mid-1950’s. However, I really can’t be sure.

Thanks for this terrific picture.

johndereszewski on October 31, 2009 at 4:06 pm

One of the most interesting aspects of this photo is just how little has changed over the many years. Except for the old Veteran’s Hall/Police Precinct, that was situated just south of the American and now hosts a McDonalds, and the elimination of the trolley tracks and cobble stones, everything else is very much in tact – even the American Eagle which still soars over what is now a rather tastefully converted Starbucks Coffee House.

Thanks again JF.

johndereszewski on October 31, 2009 at 3:55 pm

The following terrific picture was recently posted on the Greenpoint Theatre page by J. F. Lundy. It captures the theater in its old American Theater period and at a time when the building’s second floor, which long served as a bingo hall and now hosts a nightclub, was vacant and for rent. My guess is that the picture was taken in the 1930’s, but this is only a guess.

If this link does not work, please access it on the Greenpoint RKO page.


View link

ZeeSki on August 25, 2009 at 2:20 pm

No problem, John. I’m a born and bred Pointer and I appreciate the history of not only Greenpoint, but, the entire old Eastern District of Brooklyn.

BTW, I went to the Meserole when Adam West and Burt Ward did the rounds in ‘66.

johndereszewski on August 25, 2009 at 11:31 am

Joe, thanks for your comments.

I think a mid-1960’s date for LM’s photo makes the most sense. (I don’t know why I initially dated it in 1956!; the America clearly lasted several years beyond the 1959 demise of the Winthrop.)

I’m a bit surprised that the old building just south of the American was only demolished in 1969. I thought it was razed 4-5 years sooner. But memories are tricky.

Joe, thanks also for the early history of the old building, which served as Greenpoint’s police precinct before construction of the 94th. As noted in my previous posts, I remember it as functioning as a veteran’s hall and perhaps as a military recruiting station in its twilight years. But your note fills in a big gap.

ZeeSki on August 25, 2009 at 11:07 am

Re the photo posted by Lost Memory:

That photo was taken in the mid/late 1960s. The tipoff? The style of bus stop sign for the B61/B62 in front of the theater. The American was already defunct as a movie house by that time. Another tipoff is the sign with the red/blue circle. It’s an old Kalmon-Dolgin commercial real estate brokers sign. Another tipoff – there isn’t a lamppost which replaced the bus stop sign post in 1970. Also, the building to the right, mentioned by John Dereszewski, was demolished in 1969. That particular building was constructed prior to 1880 and was used as the 6th Precinct prior to consolidation, and as the 61st and 105th after 1898. When the new stationhouse on Meserole Ave. was built, the building was used by the Board of Transportation during the construction of the IND Crosstown Line (Oldtimers knew it as the “GG”).

ZeeSki on August 25, 2009 at 7:36 am

Re Warren G. Harris:

The American/Chopin wasn’t directly across the street from the Greenpoint. The Greenpoint was located between Noble and Calyer Sts., almost 2 ½ blocks south of Greenpoint Ave. The buildingg across the street date from the 1860s, were then, as they are now, apartment buildings with storefronts on the ground floors.

Re Bway and PKoch’s street width theory:

Interesting; but, never happened. Greenpoint Ave., from the East River to Manhattan Ave., has been wider than the stretch between Manhattan Ave. and Oakland St./McGuinness Blvd. since the 1860s, when a 100 foot tall hill was leveled at the intersection of Greenpoint and Franklin.

johndereszewski on April 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Thanks, Robert R. I guess is is how the American/Chopin looked in the mid-1970’s. Too bad it did not survive a few years longer, after Greenpoint became gentrified.

RobertR on April 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm

1972 presenting a live show
View link

Bway on April 16, 2009 at 8:48 am

The place looks like it was abandoned at the time of that photo….whenever it was.

johndereszewski on April 14, 2009 at 12:16 pm

1986 makes absolutely no sense. First, the American closed in – at the latest – the early 1970’s, and only reopened as the Chopin several years later. Second, the building to the right, which was an American Legion Hall, was demolished in the early 1960’s – and replaced by the McDonald’s that currently occupies the space about 10 years later.

My guess is that 1956 makes a lot more sense than 1986. Still, it’s a terrific photo. So, thanks LM – and let the discussion begin!

johndereszewski on April 7, 2009 at 6:42 am

Bway, my sense is that the Starbucks takes up more than the old lobby, which I vaguely remember as being a pretty modest affair, and probably includes a portion – but only a portion – of the old theater proper.

With regard to the club, this is located on the second floor in space that had independently functioned as a bingo hall.