Loew's Canal Theatre

31 Canal Street,
New York, NY 10002

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View from the balcony

Not much is known about this aging relic dating from September 1927, which is located on the far eastern end of Canal Street.

The theatre is entered through a narrow entrance on Canal Street, which leads towards a large auditorium whose west wall is shared with a side street. It was equipped with a Wurltzer 3 manual organ.

The theatre was opened and operated by Loew’s Theatres, until the 1960’s. Then, it became an ‘indie’ before it closed circa 1979-1980. Structurally, the theatre appears to be in good shape. Exterior staircases on the side street are still present. Additionally, while shuttered, the theatre auditorium has not yet been converted to retail space, only the entance & lobby were converted into an electronics store which operated for many years.

In 2010, hope was raised for the possible renovation of the long shuttered Loew’s Canal Theatre when the building’s current owners supported an effort by the Committee to Revitalize and Enrich the Arts and Tomorrow’s Economy(CREATE) to conduct a feasibility study for the conversion of the Canal Theatre into a multipurpose performance arts center. The group received $150,000 from the city for a feasibility study and $140.00 for additional studies.

Also that year, the facade of the lobby portion of the building was declared a city landmark. The auditorium was reported to be in remarkably good shape, with most of the decor intact.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 149 comments)

NYCer
NYCer on October 5, 2015 at 8:37 am

Walked by yesterday and saw a green box with an X inside it spray painted on the Canal Street sign. As I understand it, this is done by the Fire Dept. after an inspection to indicate a hazardous vacant building. The appearance of the box indicates the level of hazard. Plain box = entry permitted. Box with one diagonal line = proceed with extreme caution and make no heroics to save structure. Box w/ X = do not enter due to unsafe conditions which may have been caused by previous fire on building partial collapse. There are some numbers next to the box to identify the fire company that inspected. Didn’t see any markings like RO for roof out or FO for floor out. Seems like the owner is just letting the building rot.

theatrefan
theatrefan on October 5, 2015 at 9:23 am

Yes the place is crumbling away, here is some info from the NYC Department Of Buildings Site:

1) FIRE STARTED TO HEAT PIPES CAUSED PARTIAL COLLAPSE OF INT WA LLS, NO APPROVED PLANS ON SITE. STOP ALL WORK, ENTIRE SITE 2)TIE BACK ON METAL LATH & PLASTER WALL ROTTED CAUSING WALL TO BECOME UNSTABLE W/ THE POTENTIAL OF COLLAPSE.

Unless the owner does something soon, the inside will rot and fall away to nothing, like what happened to the Loew’s Pitkin.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on March 24, 2017 at 7:44 am

The Canal is one of the 24 theaters in my new book, “After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater,” which is available on Amazon or your local bookstore

Willburg145
Willburg145 on March 29, 2017 at 4:40 pm

I’m sure we can say goodbye to this theatre. The land is very valuable. Another damn apartment will replace it.

Willburg145
Willburg145 on March 29, 2017 at 4:50 pm

I found this on the Landmarks commission website.

http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/DS/DocumentSearch/DocumentImageView?doc_id=2012032000346001

MarkA
MarkA on May 4, 2017 at 6:51 pm

Matt … you book is a “must buy.” The Canal Theatre opened with a Wurlitzer organ. My theatre organ group, myself included, is restoring it. This is a link sbout the organ. Some of information, particularly about the second theatre were the organ was housed is outdated. http://theatreorgans.com/freestate/where_did_this_organ_come_from.htm.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on May 5, 2017 at 6:43 am

Mark – That’s amazing that the organ console was sealed under cement for so many years. Thanks!

MarkA
MarkA on May 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Matt, you are welcome. Work continues every week on restoring the organ. However, a larger on is being rebuilt … with four keyboards.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on December 12, 2018 at 9:29 am

The future of Loew’s Canal is briefly discussed by owner Thomas Sung in New York Magazine’s issue of December 10-23, 2018. A two-part clipping has been uploaded, starting here

HomecrestGuy
HomecrestGuy on March 4, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Two new old Tax Photo pictures of the Canal, added to the Gallery.

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