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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 Manhattan, with 3,462 seats, when it opened on September 23, 1920. Original plans were drawn by architect William H. McElphatrick but they was not used. The plans by architects Eugene DeRosa & Percival Raymond Pereira were approved by B.S. Moss Enterprises who launched the theatre. It was equipped with a Moller 3 manual 15 ranks theatre organ. The orchestra pit had a capacity for 25 musicians. It later came under the management of RKO.
In its heyday it hosted B.F. Keith’s Vaudeville and 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. It became a full-time movie theatre in 1934. The spectacular RKO ‘lightening bolt’ neon lit marquee that wrapped around the corner entrance was removed in 1984. It was closed as a single screen in Fall of 1989.
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 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 theatre closed in 2002, but reopened in July 2004, as the New Coliseum Theatre, operated by Jesus Nova. By 2009 it was named Coliseum Cinemas using a former exit off the original main foyer as its main entrance. It was closed in October 2011. It was being prepared for demolition in November 2019. Demolition began in March 2020 and was completed in November 2020.
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