Grand Theatre

22-15 31st Street,
Astoria, NY 11105

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Grand Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This large theater was located on 31st Street off Ditmars Boulevard in the Astoria section of Queens. Opened in 1924, it has been closed since 1960, but the building still stands. It is currently a supermarket on the street level.

From the street there is no hint this was a theater, but behind the building is a municipal parking lot and from this view you can clearly tell the building’s past life.

This street had another theater as well. Up the block and across the street (on 31st Street) was a very small neighborhood movie house that survived into the 1970’s — ending its run playing Greek language films.

Contributed by "Grouchboxx@aol.com," William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

hshift
hshift on February 3, 2005 at 2:18 pm

I was born 1959 and lived in Astoria for 27 years. I remember as a kid going bowling at a place called Astoria Lanes, circa 1968-1978, which is definitely the site of the Key Food. The bowling alley was huge, it had 24 lanes on the first floor and another 24 on the second floor. They had a bar, and a small diner area. They also had a kids nursery, where moms in leagues could bowl weekday afternoons, and an attendant would watch the kiddies (I remember my mom dropping me at this place while she bowled. I do not remember a roller rink ever being there, maybe after I moved.
I also remember the Ditmars Theater, and seeing Beneath the Planet of the Apes there, I must have been around 15.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 7, 2005 at 7:53 am

Here’s a current view of the former Grand taken from the municipal parking lot at the rear (where the profile certainly betrays the building’s origins) as well as from under the El on Steinway:

View link

View link

There’s also a website for the Gym that occupies the 2nd level above Key Food: http://www.therockhealthandfitness.com/ There’s a slide show of photos for the gym that would indicate all traces of theatrical use have been completely eradicated.

br91975
br91975 on September 7, 2005 at 8:25 am

This was my neighborhood supermarket when I first moved to NYC; I never would have guessed the building which houses it was once a movie theatre. Thanks to everyone for your memories and the information you posted, and thanks to you, Warren and Ed, for the photos.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 11, 2006 at 6:20 pm

Here’s a new link to the pair of photos I took back in September. The old links no longer work.

bazookadave
bazookadave on June 30, 2006 at 9:59 am

Wow I wonder if this was originally a palatial atmospheric venue. The building is quite large and that roof looks like it may have accommodated a domed ceiling beneath it. Unfortunately the interior is completely changed, as I shop at Key Food almost daily (no evidence of a theatre) and the gym, as I recall it, retained absolutlely no trace of any former glory.

I have searched endlessly online for images of original blueprints, floorplans and artists' renderings of many of these lost movie palaces. I found a few, but there seems to be a dearth of them in general. I assume the hiers of Thomas Lamb and the other theatre designers hold title to their work. In a vault somewhere there are probably rolled-up blueprints, drawings, and paintings of all our wonderful lost theatres.

jmoroney
jmoroney on September 26, 2006 at 7:42 am

The last movie to ever play at the Grand was the 1960 film “Midnight Lace” with Rex Harrison, Doris Day and John Gavin. Man, I miss that place!

murray2362
murray2362 on January 6, 2007 at 9:52 am

Astoria Lanes definitely occupied that space. I remember as a kid in the mid sixties If you were twelve and under on Wednesday mornings during the summer you got three games, rental shoes, a hot dog and a coke for $1.30. How times have changed.

hankmc
hankmc on June 8, 2009 at 8:23 am

I just found this site while doing some research on my old Astoria neighborhood, the best times of my childhood until we moved to NJ in 1955.

Back in the late 40’s early 50’s both the Ditmars and the Grand had Saturday matinees for kids that certainly gave you your 12 cents worth, most of us brought a sandwich since you would be there from 10AM to at least 2 or 3PM. The Ditmars was a small theater that was on one level and traded luxury for inexpensive admission prices and two current films along with cartoons, short subjects, and the all important coming attractions. During WWll they sold War Bonds and gave out dishes. A friendly place.

The Grand was larger, more palatial, with a balcony and ushers who lit the way to a seat if the film was in progress. They also had stern looking older women wearing starched white dresses who served as matrons during the Saturday kid’s show and kept the peace during the times the screen action slowed down and the sugar candy high kicked in resulting in things being thrown among the audience and scuffles breaking out. A matron could get you banned for a week or two which was bad news since every kid in the neighborhood was either at the Grand or the Ditmars and being out on the street was like being in solitary.

There was a bowling alley operating at the same time as the Grand. It was below ground in the small office building on the East side of the Ditmars station that you passed through on the way to the street. Instead of exiting to 31st St. you went down another flight to Lou’s, (I don’t remember the real name). About a 16 alley down and dirty dungeon that was not a family place but served as a great place to learn to bowl and hang out watching some money games going on among the local hustlers. Lou closed in the summer because without A/C the wood in the alleys would swell and buckle.

There was also a pool room across the street level with the station that was entered by a stairway from 31st St. Another definitely non-family type hangout that had so much smoke and grime on the inside of the windows you could not see out. Hanging out there was considered by parents to be the quick path to jail and eventually Hell so you watched to see if there might be someone who knew you nearby before ducking into the doorway and the stairway. Thanks for a place to unpack some memories. Is there an Astoria nostalgia site to trade tall tales about the good old days? Hank

robboehm
robboehm on September 25, 2011 at 4:14 am

A bit of trivia. 31st Street was also known as Grand Avenue, the El station still carries both names. Hence, Grand.

Asyd
Asyd on April 29, 2012 at 10:57 am

That building was a bowling alley and ice rink. Astoria Bootery was right next door along with Bobbys' Music. There was a big fire in the early 70s on the corner. A womens dept store I think that was called Susan Terry. Woolworths burned down around that time also and became Genovese. Another fond memory was going to the Midnight Rock shows at Astoria theater. I saw Pink Floyd…Live at Pompeii in 1974.

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