Boulevard Theatre

82-22 Northern Boulevard,
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

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Boulevard Theatre

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The Boulevard Theatre first opened in November, 1926, and was one of three theatres built in NW Queens by the Grob & Knobel circuit with Herbert J. Krapp as architect. The Boulevard Theatre in the Jackson Heights section of Queens, was the only one of the three with stage facilities large enough to handle a live play or musical. Unlike the other two, it also had a balcony; the Sunnyside Theatre had all of its seats on a steeply raked main floor, while the Jackson Theatre had a raised “stadium” section of seats at the rear of the auditorium.

The Boulevard Theatre was designed to be a playhouse, with bookings of shows that had recently closed on Broadway or were “trying out” enroute. The attractions ran from Monday through Saturday, with Sunday used for vaudeville and a feature movie.

In 1928, when William Fox acquired the Grob & Knobel theatres, he kept the Boulevard Theatre legit by sub-leasing it to Louis Werba, who also operated playhouses in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. The onset of the Depression sent both Fox and Werba into bankruptcy, so the Boulevard Theatre became a double-feature movie house under Fox’s successor, Skouras Theatres, which also took over the Jackson Theatre and Sunnyside Theatre (later sold to Century Theatres).

Due to its location in a residential area on Northern Boulevard that was a long walk from the 82nd Street shopping district around Roosevelt Avenue, the Boulevard Theatre never did as well as the Jackson Theatre, but it survived a triplexing in the early-1980’s before a decline in the neighborhood caused its closure. It sat vacant for at least a decade while a battle raged over the owner’s plan for demolition, which was opposed by the community.

The Boulevard Theatre was finally sold for conversion to what became the highly succesful Natives Restaurant-Theatre, catering to Queens' very large Hispanic community. The restaurant-bar took up the Boulevard’s former entrance and lobby, while the three auditoriums were used for plays, concerts, and sometimes imported movies. By 2016 it was a restaurant/nightclub.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 32 comments)

cblog
cblog on November 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I forgot to note that the Daily News published a WWII photograph showing a victory garden taking up the entire block between the Boulevard and St.Marks on 34th ave.

LugosiResearch
LugosiResearch on December 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm

On Tuesday 6 March 1951, Bela “Dracula” Lugosi presented his in person Horror and Magic Stage show at Skouras Boulevard. Currently I am conducting research on all things Lugosi; if anyone out there actually saw this show and/or has memorabilia (poster, handbill, photos) related to this show, please contact Bill at Thanks in advance for any assistance!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 17, 2013 at 7:21 am

Looks like the name Boulevard has returned to this establishment, per this recent photo posted to the Flickr website. Not sure when Natives went down and Boulevard took its place, but seems to be more or less the same business model.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on December 17, 2013 at 7:50 am

Interesting! Though the “Boulevard Latin Cuisine” sign makes no mention of a theater, as the old one did. Wonder if they’re still utilizing that space.

michaelkaplan
michaelkaplan on January 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Many stories to tell about the Boulevard. But for beginners, here’s a list of the movies I saw there (in order of which I remembered them: The Robe The King and I Beneath the 12 Mile Reef It Came from Outer Space (3D) A Star is Born Second Chance (3D) Phantom of the Rue Morgue (3D) Creature from the Black Lagoon (3D) The Best Years of Our Lives (reissue) Lady and the Tramp River of No Return Carmen Jones New Faces of 1952 East of Eden Three Coins in the Fountain Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? The Glenn Miller Story Calamity Jane I Am Curious Blue Song of the South Help! Gentlemen Prefer Blondes The Man Who Fell to Earth There’s No Business Like Show Business The Marriage of Maria Braun Breakfast At Tiffany’s Pillow Talk Beat Street The Command Hell and High Water Knife in the Water Rocco and his Brothers Boccaccio 70 Marriage Italian Style

minooch
minooch on February 15, 2015 at 11:31 am

The “triplexing” didn’t happen until the early ‘80s…and as for the “decline in the neighborhood” being a reason for its closure, well, that’s just a baffling matter of opinion to me. I’ve lived here for over 50 years and that section of Northern Boulevard is more alive and vibrant than it’s ever been…especially at night. I believe the reason for its closure was most likely due to mismanagement and neglect. By the time it closed down the place was filthy and literally falling apart. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have closed down regardless, as most of the local Queens (and New York City in general) movie houses seem to have disappeared from the map.

robboehm
robboehm on March 26, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Added photo showing original entrance and marquee.

AOManzor
AOManzor on January 9, 2017 at 9:17 am

I can’t believe I just found this page. My family owned this theater in the 70’s and early 80’s until we sold to our partners. It broke our heart to watch the theater fall into disrepair and eventually close since some of our fondest memories happened there.

And Minooch is right, the triplexing happened in the early 80’s, not the 70’s, much to our chagrin. If it was viable, we would have just had one screen.

fred1
fred1 on January 9, 2017 at 10:38 am

This theater had been closed for years. it is now a restaurant / nightclub. Please update

robboehm
robboehm on January 9, 2017 at 11:26 am

As I recall there was a gym or health club on the second floor in later years.

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