Coliseum Cinemas

4260-4261 Broadway,
New York, NY 10033

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Coliseum Cinemas

Located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, on the northwest corner of W. 181st Street and Broadway, the B.S. Moss' Coliseum Theatre boasted to be the third largest theatre in the United States, with 3,500 seats, when it opened in 1920. B.S. Moss Enterprises was involved with the launching of the theatre as an entity and it later came under the management of RKO. The architects were DeRosa and Pereira, who designed other movie palaces of that period.

In its heyday many of the most famous vaudeville acts came to the stage of the Coliseum Theatre. The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Uncle Don’s Kiddie Show, and Gertrude Berg of television’s “The Goldbergs” were among the performers who had been there.

In the early-1980’s, the theatre was made into a triplex. The orchestra seats were one theatre and the mezzanine was split up into two theatres. At this time the ornate ceiling could be seen and appreciated by those who have a passion for nostalgia. The ornate marquee was taken down at this time. The theatre was later reduced to a duplex by eliminating the orchestra seating area and stage to make way for retails stores, such as New York & Co., Bravo Supermarket, Radio Shack and Easy Connections. The Coliseum Cinemas was closed due to financial problems and was re-opened under new management as a quad theatre in July 1991.

The theater closed in 2002, but reopened in July 2004, as the New Coliseum Theatre, operated by Jesus Nova. By 2009 it was named Coliseum Cinemas. It was closed in October 2011. It was being prepared for demolition in November 2019.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 134 comments)

Metropolite on July 27, 2015 at 3:20 pm

DNA Info reports the Coliseum may become a shopping center.

RobertR on August 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm

I was suprised this closed, there were not many theatres left uptown.

DavidZornig on November 18, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Wider version of the B.S. Moss Coliseum, circa 1920’s photo added credit Wurts Brothers.

Ace on December 30, 2018 at 5:27 pm

As of late December 2018, all of the businesses located in the former RKO Coliseum building have been vacated, leaving the property completely abandoned. Sidewalk sheds and asbestos removal notices have taken their place….tell-tale signs that the former movie palace might face the wrecking ball in 2019. :(

EsseXploreR on January 7, 2019 at 9:30 am

I was recently inside the structure. All of the gorgeous plaster has been stripped out of all the auditoriums (including the stage area) and lobby. It now stands gutted and awaiting demolition.

br91975 on January 8, 2019 at 3:36 pm

Thank you for your report, EsseXploreR. Has the theatre been gutted to the bare brick walls?

dallasmovietheaters on March 1, 2019 at 6:58 am

Original William H. McElfatrick architectural design from 1917 in photos.

Orlando on May 6, 2019 at 10:55 am

as of May 5, 2019, there are no posted permits for demolition on any part of the exterior of the former Coliseum. Scaffolding is limited to the first story of the structure and “el raton” abatements (raton hotels) along 181st St. and Broadway perimeters of the building. Like the Loew’s Victoria, the building will be demolished on it’s centennial. This still leeaves the Regent and the decrepit Hamilton and the newer former RKO 23rd Street as the companies leftover legacies. P.S. and the Marble Hill if that’s still standing even though a Bronx location. Still painful to see the longest running RKO venue in the borough go. The last to carry the RKO name and (vertical RKO sign on 181st Street into the 2000’s.

Orlando on July 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm

as of June 30, 2019, thru a hole in the 181st entrance I caught a glimpse of the marble staircase which are awaiting…. the facade on 181st St. and the the angel’s face on Broadway also await. Windows, up above open exit doors are open to let the pigeons have their final days of their home also lost their lease. I will post again in two weeks… No walls have come down since my last post but the end is near… Goodbye RKO Coliseum. It lasted 99 years but won’t be for its' centennial. Like the Loew’s Victoria. A Dunkin Donuts is set to take over the corner.

Ace on November 4, 2019 at 8:31 am

November 2019 update: Passed by the (former) theater yesterday; almost entirely covered by scaffolding and sidewalk sheds from head to toe. Last remnants of the marquee are still visible by the former entrance. It looks as if they’re demolishing it brick by brick as the rooftop is starting to come down.

The building is 10 months shy of its centennial; not certain if they’ll be anything left by then. :/

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