Coliseum Cinemas

4260-4261 Broadway,
New York, NY 10033

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Coliseum Cinemas

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Located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, on the northwest corner of West 181st Street and Broadway, the 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 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 and by 2009, was named Coliseum Cinemas. It was closed in October 2011.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 125 comments)

guarina
guarina on May 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

I saw “Giant” there with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Sal Mineo early one February, there was a heavy snowfall and Broadway was blocked. It was James Dean’s last movie. Can somebody tell me who played the younger boy in “Knock on Any Door” with John Derek?

guarina
guarina on May 25, 2012 at 10:06 am

Yes, thanks. Sal Mineo in “Rebel without a Cause” reminded me of him.

RobertR
RobertR on May 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I never knew the neighborhood run was that rigid on one week playdates on the first tier. I guess when pictures still had strong legs the second and third tier really benefitted.

guarina
guarina on May 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Tinseltoes, That was on my birthday. That was the last winter we lived in New York. We moved south in March.

jordanlage
jordanlage on May 26, 2014 at 11:04 am

Anyone know of a former small theater that may have been located on the north side of West 187th St. between Cabrini Blvd. & Fort Washington Ave.? A deli is now in that space. Looks like it could have been a former theater. Just curious.

amcbayplaza13
amcbayplaza13 on December 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm

No wounder this theater must been a fromer movie house for 94 years and was converted to 4 Multiplex because of the original stage was making away for a retail store back in july 1991

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 10, 2015 at 2:40 pm

The name “Piera” in the last line of the first paragraph of the introduction should be Pereira. De Rosa and Pereira were in partnership from about 1917 to about 1921. I’m pretty sure this was Percival Pereira, who had worked in Thomas Lamb’s office until 1915, then had a brief association with C. Howard Crane, who opened a New York branch office that year.

The May, 1919, issue of The Bridgemen’s Magazine had this item:

“New York.—Theater—B. S. Moss Co., 729 Seventh avenue, soon lets contract building 2-story, 137x161ft. brick and steel, concrete foundation, on 181st street and Broadway. About $475,000. De Rosa & Pereira, 110 W. Fortieth street, architects.”

npete
npete on June 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

I live about 15 blocks from this theater and am really worried about it—it’s been shutdown for years and it looks like there has been zero movement in reusing the space. Obviously, all the retail stores are fine, but the projectors, theater seats, and related multiplex fixtures have seemingly all been left to rot. I would really love to see this place get preserved in some way, whether it is kept a movie theater or not (though, that would be preferable, as there aren’t any movie theaters in my neighborhood at all currently. :(

Metropolite
Metropolite on July 27, 2015 at 2:20 pm

DNA Info reports the Coliseum may become a shopping center.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150727/washington-heights/historic-movie-theater-coliseum-may-be-replaced-by-shopping-center?utm_source=Afternoon+News+Update&utm_campaign=86b67e87fb-Mailchimp-NYC&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cae964e5c0-86b67e87fb-134578469

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