Park Avenue Theatre

487 Park Avenue,
New York, NY 10022

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Located on Park Avenue at 59th Street, the Park Avenue Theatre opened in October 1946. It was a project of Walter Reade Theatres, and was designed to cater for the upscale neighborhood. It was a conversion of the former Anderson Art Galleries. The main staircase wall had a mural ‘The Judgement of Mars’ by the noted Belgium artist Oscar Glas. Seating was provided for 350 in the orchestra level, and 125 double ‘love’ seats in a raised mezzanine stadium section at the rear which was for smokers. The downstairs lounge offered facilities for backgammon, gin rummy or bridge, with cards and games provided by the management. The ladies lounge was supervised by a beauty technician, specially trained by Charles of the Ritz. There were no vending machines or sales of any merchandise in the theatre. Tickets were sold on an annual subsciption basis from $52 per year upwards, averaging $1 a week per person per performance. Any un-reserved seats that wewre available for walk-up customers cost 60 cents. The subscription system was abandoned after a year when new operators took over the theatre, and it became a first run showcase cinema for Universal-International Pictures.

The Park Avenue Theatre opened with “Anna and the King of Siam”, and it played the 1948 Laurence Olivier film of “Hamlet” in a run that lasted well over a year. The theatre was equipped with both 35mm and 16mm projection and programs changed twice weekly. It was closed in 1952.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 6, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Here is a Time article about the opening in 1946. As Warren pointed out, the subscription idea was a failure:
http://tinyurl.com/y93c7k

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 16, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Olivier’s “Hamlet” opened here on September 29, 1948, with all seats reserved. There were two performances daily except on weekends, when there were four on Saturdays (including one at midnight) and three on Sundays (as well as holidays). The engagement lasted 66 weeks, ending in January, 1950, and grossing about $800,000, according to reports in the trade press. More than 500,000 tickets were sold, many to students at a discounted price. The engagement was claimed to be the third longest in NYC cinema history up to that time. #1 was the silent “The Big Parade,” which ran 95 weeks at the Embassy Theatre on Broadway. #2 was the Italian import, “Bitter Rice,” which played 91 weeks at the World-49th Street Theatre.

seymourcox
seymourcox on August 5, 2009 at 6:37 pm

From LIFE, a June, 1947 ad for a movie “Carnegie Hall” that played Park Avenue Theatre,
View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Boxoffice magazine, in its November 2, 1946 issue, reported on the opening of the Park Avenue Theatre. The article contains an extensive description and a couple of rare photos of the place.
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 21, 2010 at 1:51 am

There’s a nice photo of a lounge area at the Park Avenue featured in an ad for Gulistan carpeting that appeared in Boxoffice of March 29, 1947. There’s also a small inset photo showing the part of the auditorium with the stairway to the mezzanine.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 24, 2010 at 11:51 am

Plexiglas canopy…photo in Boxoffice magazine, January 6, 1951:
View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

This New York Times article features a photo of an audience at the Park Avenue Theatre in 1946.

Astyanax
Astyanax on May 21, 2012 at 5:01 am

I was unable to open the photo of the lounge area, but I fondly recall the comfortable lounge areas of the Little Carnegie and the Beekman.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Boxoffice has moved its archive to a new web site. Here is fresh link to the 1949 ad with photo of the lounge.

The 1951 photo of the entrance canopy that Gerald DeLuca linked to is now available at this link.

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