Loew's Delancey Theatre

140-146 Delancey Street,
New York, NY 10002

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Loew's Delancey Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located next door to the historic Ratner’s dairy restaurant, the Loew’s Delancey Street Theatre was once a cornerstone of life on New York’s Lower East Side. It was built in 1911, opening in 1912. But, with the later rush to the suburbs, the theatre and the surrounding neighborhood declined. Loew’s Delancey Theatre was closed around May 1976.

Today, the theatre remains closed, and has been converted to retail space. Specifically, the front facade and first level of the theatre are now occupied by four different tenants, including a Burger King, Subway, and Children’s Place store. A sign on the theatre’s exterior indicates the upper floors are also available for rent.

The current condition of the theatre’s interior is unknown, though it’s probably safe to assume most, if not all, of the theatre is gutted.

Sadly, the Lower East Side, even today, remains dramatically under-screened. Until the February 2002 opening of the Sunshine Theatre, there was not a single movie theatre on the Lower East Side and the nearest multiplex or megaplex was at least 15 minutes away.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 46 comments)

SinatraHandball on March 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Bittersweet nostalgia. Growing up on the Lower East Side meant the Loew’s Delancey was the movie theater of choice during my teenage years during the 60’s. Although the Loew’s Canal theater was in close proximity, this theater was situated on a “main street” as it meant good food as well as convenient shopping (in addition to street fare on Orchard, Essex, Clinton.)

I remember watching James Bond double features, Von Ryan’s Express, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Duel at Diablo, A Guide for the Married Man, The Battle of The Bulge, to name a few (good movies.)

Strange, I remember movie going weekend afternoons with my adolescent friends, eating the food there, laughing, carrying on, but not being admonished by adults for doing so. I think kids made up all most of the audience during the day. As an aging adult, these days I couldn’t tolerate such a distraction.

Every time I past by and see the outer building it’s like looking at a ghostly hulk of a sunken ship. Quite heart breaking as this area still doesn’t have a decent movie complex in addition to empty undeveloped lots across the street.

For the past several years I’ve been getting ecstatic experiences of times past whenever I’ve gone to the restored Loew’s Jersey Theater (unashamed plug) in Jersey City, viewing classic films. The symmetry and decor inside is reminiscent of immense showcases like Delancey and the defunct 14 st. Academy of Music. The venue is a gigantic bonus to simply watching an old great film, say, as shown at Film Forum. The sound, the screen, all should be experienced by those with and without remembrances of what New York City used to have.

TLSLOEWS on March 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Thanks SinatraHandball.

bassmanbobby on March 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Still trying to find new pictures!

artwong on October 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

The “historic Ratner deli” should be “historic Ratner’s dairy restaurant”. The dairy-only menu attracted observant Jews as well as non-observant fans of blintzes and cheesecake.

AndrewBarrett on December 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Dear Mr. Dousmanis and CinemaTreasures readers,
[By the way hello from a fellow AMICA member!] You mention being up in the upstairs part of this theatre, and specifically, “The top floors of the dressing rooms contained old air conditioning compressors and equipment. Well stripped by past junkies. There is more equipment under stage stand pipe pumps” Could any of this “equipment” or “pipe pumps” have been parts or pieces of the old Seeburg-Smith theatre pipe organ that was installed in this theatre?

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by Mr. David L. Junchen, pg. 630, the “Delancey Street Th.” in New York, New York, originally had a Seeburg-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1921. This organ had a 5 horsepower Kinetic blower, serial #J169, which produced 10" of static wind pressure.

Although the book does not give the size (# of manuals, # of pipe ranks) of the organ (not known at the time of publication), my comparison of the data on known Smith organs shows that only the very largest organs the company built (10 to 16 ranks) had blowers that were 5 horsepower.

Most of the rest of the Smith organs that the various Smith companies installed from 1913-1928 (mostly 4 to 9 ranks) had blowers of 1 HP, 1 & ½ HP, 2 HP, and 3 HP sizes. Only a relative handful (about 10) of the 200 or so Smith organs built were known to have been 10 ranks or larger, or had a 5 HP or larger blower that would also indicate the size of the organ.

Does anybody know where the Seeburg-Smith organ from the Delancey Street Theatre, or its parts, is/are today? Thanks!

theatrefan on February 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Are there any photo’s out there of the inside of this theatre?, I also wonder if there is anything left of the original auditorium & balcony inside, some say there is still some stuff intact inside. Makes me wonder.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 6, 2015 at 11:31 pm

AndrewBarrett: It has just occurred to me that johndousmanis was probably talking about standpipe pumps, which were part of a theater’s built-in firefighting equipment, required by law in New York. It wouldn’t have had anything to do with the organ. Standpipe is another name for a fire hydrant.

theatrefan: I’ve just noticed in Street View that there is a white square with an X through it painted on the front wall of the theater, with the words “ABOVE STORE.” I wonder if that could be an indication that the building is vacant above the first floor? It’s quite possible that in this neighborhood, which was very low rent for a long time, only the ground floor was ever converted for other uses.

No new windows have been cut into the upper parts of the walls, so it certainly wasn’t converted into offices. In fact a few old windows (maybe for the mezzanine lounge, manager’s office, or rest rooms) that must have been part of the original design have been sealed up. I’d say the chances are pretty good that something remains of the upper part of the theatre.

theatrefan on February 8, 2015 at 5:53 am

Joe, I have checked the NYC Department of Buildings information system website, it does not look like any demolition permits were issued for the upper levels. So there might be a good chance that some of the original aspects of the Delancey as a Movie Theatre could indeed exist in the upper portions of the building.

DavidZornig on March 8, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Circa 1962 photo added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page. Marquee on the far right. Great pic if you like picking out automobiles.

theatrefan on March 19, 2017 at 3:29 pm

In an old issue of the THS publication “Marquee” from 1982 it was mentioned that part the original neon Loew’s marquee logo from the Delancey wound up in the Century Restaurant on West 43rd off Times Square it filled the entire back wall of the bar. Does anybody here know what ever happened to it after?

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