Park Avenue Theatre

487 Park Avenue,
New York, NY 10022

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

Showing 18 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 21, 2012 at 5:29 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.

Astyanax on May 21, 2012 at 12:01 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.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm

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

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

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

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

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 16, 2010 at 5:55 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

seymourcox on August 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm

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

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 16, 2007 at 10:13 am

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.

kencmcintyre on January 6, 2007 at 3:54 pm

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

AlAlvarez on April 8, 2006 at 12:33 am

In August 1956 the NYT announced plans by Walter Reade to reopen the theatre, an easy reconvert by removing a false floor put in the bank. The theatre is then listed as having 599 seats.

(BY WAY OF REPORT; ‘War and Peace’ Is Due At Capitol—Addenda
By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Apr 15, 1956. p. 121 (1 page))

This plan was scrapped when new zoning laws would no longer allow it, hence the sale of the property to the archdioces soon after.

BoxOfficeBill on June 7, 2005 at 10:58 am

Yes, that film with the amazing Pierre Fresnay closed the theater after an eight-week run. Here’s a clip from the NYT 12 Oct. ‘52 announcing the theater’s fate:

View link

The adjoining clip offers an illuminating context. Cinerama had opened two weeks earlier, and already John Ford was champing at the bit to deploy the process “to make the damndest dramatic picture you ever saw.” That portended the end, for a while, of the “small” movie that would have been perfect for the Park Avenue to exhibit (though small movies, in truth, never really went out of fashion in the ensuing revolution). I also like the bit about how, in the event of mechanical failure, Cinerama projectionists would cover the time lapse for repair. I wonder whether anyone at this site experienced such a filler?

RobertR on June 7, 2005 at 10:04 am

One of the above posts from Warren says this theatre closed on 10/31/52. I have an ad from 10/5/52 and the Park Avenue was playing “The Amazing Monsieur Fabre”. This must have been the last feature played there, or at least one of the last.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 8, 2005 at 4:38 pm

The first movie shown at the Park Avenue was the late-run “Anna and the King of Siam.” The theatre’s advertising boasted of an ultra-modern air-conditioning system that “keeps the temperature always right and safeguards health with invisible, germ-killing cathode rays.” Hua?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 8, 2005 at 11:39 am

Another reason for the Park Avenue’s closing was Walter Reade’s takeover of the Arcadia on Third Avenue across from Bloomingdale’s, which the circuit converted into the Baronet and opened in February, 1952. Reade himself died that same year, at age 68. His son, Walter Junior, took over the company and ran it until 1973, when he died accidentally in a skiing accident in Switzerland, at age 56. Reade Jr. fell about 30 feet head-first into deep snow, and apparently died of suffocation.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 6, 2005 at 2:12 pm

The Park Avenue Theatre, built and first operated by the Walter Reade circuit, was a noteworthy experiment that quickly proved a failure. When the theatre opened in October, 1946, tickets for evening performances were sold on an annual subscription basis. Subscribers could attend once a week for $93.60 per year for the shows starting at 9PM, or $62.40 for the 7PM performances. All of the movies were subsequent-run, with programs (a single feature plus shorts) changing twice a week. Matinees were non-subscription, with all seats priced at 60 cents. In the evenings, individual tickets were only sold if subscribers didn’t turn up to claim their seats, which were registered in their names. The modern auditorium was in the stadium style, with a raised mezzanine section at the rear. The main floor had “extra-size” seats, while the mezzanine contained “settees” that were large enough for two people and upholstered in super-comfortable “Foamex.” Free coffee, tea and soft drinks were served in the downstairs lounge, which also had a television set and a corner where subscribers could play backgammon or other board games. The ladies' room was attended by a trained beautician who provided patrons with make-up assistance and free cosmetics. Unfortunately for the Park Avenue, the same type of late-run programs were available at the nearby Plaza and Sutton Theatres without need of taking out annual subscriptions, so the policy lasted only a few months. In 1947, Reade leased the theatre to Universal-International to use as a showcase for its imported British films from J. Arthur Rank, with Hollywood product sometimes used to fill a gap. In 1950, Universal declined to renew its lease and Reade took over operation of the theatre again. Due to its isolated location and competition from home TV, the theatre closed forever on October 31, 1952. The premises were converted to other use. In 1957, Walter Reade sold the property for a reported $2 million to the Archdiosese of New York, which intended to build a “Chapel of Ease” there to serve office workers. I don’t know if that ever happened. Perhaps the Archdiosese later sold it to another developer.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 19, 2004 at 9:41 am

The Park Avenue was located at 487 Park Avenue and had 584 seats. Due to its location in what was then a mostly residential area of apartment buildings, it didn’t survive very long. The area was virtually deserted at night except for people who lived there. If I recall correctly, it was converted into a bank and then demolished for a high-rise building.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 19, 2004 at 9:30 am

HAMLET ran on a reserved-seat, two showings per day policy, under the aegis of the Theatre Guild.