Fox Kew Gardens Theatre

118-01 Queens Boulevard,
Forest Hills, NY 11375

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Tinseltoes on November 4, 2013 at 11:28 am

A more accurate address would be 118-01 Queens Boulevard, which is currently used for a corner store in the exact spot where the theatre’s entrance stood. 118-21 is used for the main entrance to the Pickman Building, which is in the middle of the block.

Tinseltoes on October 19, 2012 at 6:32 am

If the address ribbons “cannot be changed,” maybe they should just be deleted entirely. Many are contaminated with false and/or misleading information.

robboehm on October 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Always the possibility of a post office reassignment. Case in point, the Bellerose used to be in Bellerose before the small Nassau County strip in which it was located was reassigned to Floral Park. As far as the ribbon is concerned Ken explained sometime back that the ribbon was established when the theatre was added to CT and cannot be changed.

Tinseltoes on October 18, 2012 at 7:14 am

Why doesn’t this theatre turn up in a search for Kew Gardens, NY? Possibly because the address ribbon incorrectly places it in Forest Hills? And what is “NKew Gardens?” A typo? An abbreviation for New Kew Gardens or North Kew Gardens? The mind boggles!

paktype on October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Union Turnpike was my home station for many, many years. I had no idea the “Pickman Building” and the adjacent stores were once the site of a movie theater. The above photo is quite shocking to anyone who knows how crazy that intersection is today. The Jackie Robinson Parkway runs directly beneath the intersection now.

jflundy on August 8, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Here is a shot of the theater from the other side of the Boulevard circa 1935. Warren made the ID of the building from NYPL collection image which I located.

View link

LuisV on June 22, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Thanks to mp775 and to Warren for the fabulous photos. Having lived in Kew Gardens for many years before moving to Manhattan, I still have great fondness for this neighborhood. It is astounding for me to see the area so undeveloped! It makes you think “What were they thinking” when they built this theater in the middle of nowhere. But I guess the answer is that everyone expected the good times of the roaring 20’s were going to go on forever and that the area would quickly develop.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 3, 2009 at 6:57 am

In November, 1945, the Kew Gardens Theatre made front-page news in the Queens newspapers when a home owners association headed by Isadore Federbush proposed that the building be converted into a bus terminal to end traffic jams on Queens Boulevard during commuter rush hours. Eight bus lines dropped passengers at that point to transfer to the Kew Gardens subway station. Federbush claimed that the theatre had been closed for 13 years and seemed unlikely to ever be reopened. This proposal might explain how the theatre ended up under the ownership of the NYC Board of Transportation, which instead auctioned it off in 1947 (see my post above of 6/11/08).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

Due to changes in the alert system, I wasn’t aware of the post of 3/25/09 until just now, when I went to the listing to make a new addition of my own. Here’s a new link to the photo that I displayed and described on 11/29/07, which is different from the one linked by “mp775” on 3/25/09: View link

mp775 on March 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Not sure if this is the same photo Warren posted in 2006, but here’s a 1936 photo of Queens Boulevard at Union Turnpike/Interboro Parkway, with the Fox Kew Gardens on the right.

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 11, 2008 at 10:30 am

The long-closed theatre, as well as adjacent stores, ended up the property of the NYC Board of Transportation, which owned the underlying ground as part of the Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike subway station. On June 30th, 1947, the entire Queens Boulevard blockfront, along with 21 other Board of Transportation properties in the boroughs, was put up for sale in a public auction at the Hotel Commodore in Manhattan. I don’t know if the Kew Gardens site sold that day or not, but at least another decade passed before demolition and re-development started.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 30, 2007 at 1:19 pm

After being demolished, the theatre was replaced by the Pickman Building, which uses the current address of 118-21 Queens Boulevard. Couldn’t that also be used for the address of the theatre, instead of the unspecific “Queens Boulevard near Union Turnpike,” which doesn’t even identify which side of QB?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 29, 2007 at 7:33 am

The Kew Gardens Theatre and its rooftop water tank can be seen in the center background in this photo of an eastbound traffic jam on Queens Boulevard in the summer of 1935. In those days, the boulevard had only three lanes in each direction. The wide dividing space between them would eventually be converted into more lanes. The Skouras circuit, which now owned the shuttered theatre, derived some income from adjoining stores and from billboards on the exterior walls of the

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 30, 2007 at 6:18 am

The Kew Gardens was apparently troubled from the start. A short news item on the front page of the May 31, 1928 issue of the Forest Hills-Kew Gardens Post says that the theatre, which had only recently completed construction, was “sold at auction last week in pursuance to an order of the Queens Supreme Court. The sale was conducted by Alwin A. Haack of Jamaica on the steps of the Queens County Court House, and the amount paid was $153,000. David Steinberg of Manhattan was the purchaser and will take over all mortgage liens and other outstanding encumbrances.” I believe that Steinberg represented the S&S Circuit, which would soon be taken over by Fox Theatres. It wasn’t until September, 1929, that the theatre finally opened, as the Fox Kew Gardens.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 30, 2006 at 6:47 am

The Kew Gardens Theatre and its water tower can be seen at the center of this photo taken in 1936. Even though it was seven years after the theatre opened (and quickly closed), much of the surrounding area was still waiting to be developed. The elaborate stonework at the right of the photo is the Queens Boulevard underpass of the Interboro Parkway:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 10, 2005 at 4:42 am

Here are two opening day ads. Sadly, less than a year separated the two events. The Kew Gardens probably had the shortest operating history of any cinema ever built in Queens:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 20, 2005 at 5:11 am

Here’s a 1929 ad for the short-lived Kew Gardens Theatre and its more successful sibling, the Forest Hills. Later that same month, the Wall Street stock market “crashed” and sent the KG to its doom:

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on May 29, 2005 at 8:11 pm

I found a 1932 exterior picture of the already-derelict theater on, FOR 118.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on March 17, 2005 at 10:26 am

Warren, belated thanks for your postings on this theater. I lived in Forest Hills for many years. As a kid, I always wondered about that building… my dad, Corona born-and-bred, had told me it had never opened. I guess the stock market crash erased memories of its short life!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 25, 2004 at 7:20 am

If anyone ever finds photographs of the interior of the Fox Kew Gardens, please let us know. I suspect that the auditorium may have been “atmospheric.” A newspaper report of the golf course said that there were stars and clouds on the ceiling, and I doubt that they were installed for the renovation. They were probably part of the original decor. If true, that would give Queens five atmospheric theatres instead of the believed four (Queensboro/Elmwood, Keith’s Flushing, Loew’s Valencia and Triboro).

CitizenKK on July 24, 2004 at 11:40 pm

Fantastic! I live on the block next to this site. I knew there had been golf courses around there but never a movie theater. It is technically the last block in Forest Hills but i guess they didn’t want to have two theaters named “Forest Hills” so they chose Kew Gardens.

My apartment complex was built in 1939 and i have seen photos of the area at this time. I would love to dig up some pics of this.

RobertR on February 16, 2004 at 10:39 am

Having lived in neighboring Forest Hills all my life I never knew of this theate. Thanks for an intersting discovery.