Grand Theatre

22-15 31st Street,
Astoria, NY 11105

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Grand Theatre

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 and a gymnasium upstairs.

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 "," William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

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 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 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 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 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 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.

rphill on January 17, 2015 at 4:47 pm

I grew up in the Grand Theater. I lived in Jackson Heights right off Ditmars on 80th street. Spent every Saturday afternoon at the Grand. Right across the street was a store called Brooks that sold appliances and had a small record department run by a man named Sal. He had two fingers missing on one of his hands. I got most of my 45 record collection there (the rest came from Times Square Records in the subway). On the corner of Ditmars and 31st was a store if I remember correctly was named Lerners…Opening onto the street they sold the greatest Sicilian pizza I ever had in my life. I went to JHS 141 and used to stop everyday after school at Melhops…I would want to go back to JHS but then I remember algebra and glad I’m not there

robboehm on May 5, 2015 at 7:12 am

There is an early image of, what the marquee reads, “Astoria Grand”, a copyrighted photo on the Greater Astoria Historical Society site.

DavidZornig on November 9, 2018 at 6:40 pm

Per Scott Genghis Wong: 2nd Avenue and Ditmars Avenue in Astoria. After the new street grids were completed (by 1928), 2nd Avenue was renamed 31st Street, and Ditmars Avenue was renamed Ditmars Boulevard.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 16, 2020 at 10:31 am

Key Food supermarket will be closed in October. Prior to the arrival of the pandemic, Target was reportedly interested in re-developing the site, but that may have changed since. News item displayed here

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