Murray Hill Cinema

160 E. 34th Street,
New York, NY 10016

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M Hill

Originally opened as the Murray Hill Lyceum in 1893. In 1920 it was listed as the 34th Street Theatre with a seating capacity of 600. A Seeburg-Smith organ had been installed.

Later known as the Murray Hill Theatre, this was a moderatley sized cinema that sort of mirrored the Sutton Theatre uptown and the former 34th Street East Theatre down the block. It was remodeled in 1959 in a ‘Moderne’ style to the plans of architect Benjamin Schlanger. This theatre was about to be renovated again when in 1986 while screening the film “Psycho III” the ceiling collapsed. Fortunately, no one was injured. The theatre was shut down and eventually demolished.

It was rebuilt as a quad with the same name but in the style of the City Cinemas 1-2-3 on 3rd Avenue and E. 59th Street. This, too, was short lived, as Loew’s Kips Bay 14 opened up in 1999. Two years later as business diminished for this and the Loew’s 34th Street Showplace down the street, they felt no need to continue operating. The theatre was closed in 2002 and demolished to make way for a high-rise apartment.

Contributed by jamal savage

Recent comments (view all 53 comments)

Smeeglereegle on November 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I worked at the Murray Hill from ‘79 to '82 along with my friend peterdamian (see earlier posting), in the years that I attended film school. I started with the film “JAWS 3-D,” and then “Animal House.” I shot part of my thesis film in the main entrance and outside of the theater. (Someday I’ll post the footage!) Even though our boss, Mr. Bradley was very strict, we really were a family there. There was also quite a history of tragedy at that theater. Aside from the fire in the earlier days of the building, and the ceiling collapse during Psycho III, our friend and co-worker, John, committed suicide there on May 21st, 1980. So sad.

SeaBassTian on September 5, 2012 at 4:56 am

I used to patronize this place quite often in the 90’s. By the time I arrived the decor was very white, stark, almost clinical. Ironically, I believe it’s now an NYU Medical Center. I caught Here on Earth in spring 2000.

jackbauer24 on February 10, 2013 at 4:28 am

I remember my father used to work as a manger there back in the mid 1970’s. I remember seeing many films there including the movie Rollercoaster. I liked how the Murrary Hill had there outer doors painted to match the film they were showing at the time. Does anyone remeber my father who worked there in the mid 70’s and was the manager?

Logan5 on September 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm

“The Rocketeer” showed at the [City] Murray Hill in 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo SR beginning on Friday June 21, 1991 (the film’s nationwide release date).

AndrewBarrett on December 28, 2014 at 6:18 am

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, pg. 630, the “34th Street Th.” in New York, New York, had a Seeburg-Smith organ installed in 1920.

This organ had a Simplex blower, serial #I134, which was 2 horsepower and delivered 10" of static wind pressure.

The organ’s size (# of manuals/# of ranks) is not given in the book (was not known at time of publication), but from what little I’ve learned about Smith organs so far, the 2 horsepower blower would indicate probably around a 6 rank organ, maybe 5 or 7 ranks, but probably not any larger or smaller than that.

It is a shame to hear about all of the tragedy associated with this theatre, and then about its demolition (and the demolition of the more recent theatre built on the site), but that’s the way it goes sometimes I guess.

Does anybody know where this organ, or its parts, is/are today?

jackbauer24, do you know if there was a pipe organ or any organ parts in the theatre when your father was the manager?

Smeeglereegle, do you remember anything about an organ in this theatre during the time you worked there, or a story of where it went?


AndrewBarrett on December 28, 2014 at 8:23 am

*The organ had a Kinetic blower, not a Simplex blower, sorry!

dave-bronx™ on December 28, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I saw no evidence of an organ as the building was being stripped to the four walls and roof in 1989 or 90. With the exception of the balcony structure and the concrete box that was the projection booth, everything else, including the closed restaurant, was down the first day.

Jack Theakston
Jack Theakston on February 24, 2015 at 5:26 am

Saw many, many films here in the ‘80s and '90s. At that time, most of the buildings in the area were still three-story tenements from the old days, but the writing was on the wall when they started tearing those down.

Movieholic on December 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm

I only saw “Eight Men Out” here in 1988. Very good movie. The theater was okay. I only remember there wasn’t much leg room between the seats.

jarkin on February 9, 2016 at 9:25 am

I saw ‘Rocky’ and ‘Star Wars’ here. And some ‘grown-up’ Woody Allen type feature when I was a kid. The entrance was simple. and led down to the theatre – with the concession stand kind of on the way in, with a view of the screen. I don’t know of any other theatre that has this feature. I miss it.

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