Savoy Theatre

152-04 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11433

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Showing 1 - 25 of 40 comments

robboehm on January 9, 2016 at 7:02 am

Great photos. Who knew what a grand playhouse it started out as.

robboehm on April 10, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Additional photo uploaded.

EMarkisch on October 15, 2014 at 7:27 am

Slight error in the robboehm comment of 3/8/14. Fox’s Jamaica Theatre never had a name change. It was the Jamaica Theatre for its entire existence. The Cort / Carlton Theatre was located some 20 blocks east on Jamaica Avenue.

robboehm on March 8, 2014 at 1:30 pm

The commentary says the, at that time, Rialto, was the first theatre to be wired for sound in Queens. There was also a claim that the Arion in Middle Village was. Comments on the Arion site would lead one to believe that neither had that distinction. Inasmuch as “The Jazz Singer” opened at Fox’s Jamaica (later called the Cort and Carlton), it would seem that the Rialto (Savoy) was not even the first in Jamaica. When the renovated, renamed theatre opened in December, 1929 it boasted a new Western Electric sound system. Would that have been done if one had been put in place only a short time before when talkies first came out?

robboehm on March 6, 2014 at 10:04 am

Can’t believe they were taking phone reservations in 1920! Seating capacity was greater as the Rialto than the Savoy. Somewhat surprising figuring the former also accommodated a 25 piece orchestra and a “gigantic pipe organ”.

robboehm on March 6, 2014 at 7:06 am

The Rialto opened on December 1, 1920. At a cost of a half million dollars it was hailed as: “one of the largest photoplay houses in New York bearing comparison with any other theatres on Broadway”. The opening film was “Something to Think About” with Gloria Swanson and Elliot Dexter. The house also boasted a twenty five piece orchestra and a gigantic pipe organ (mentioned in a much earlier comment on CT). There was a special exhibition agreement with Famous Players-Lasky and Paramount.

Although other references to this theatre show it as being built by Al Schwartz after the success of his Rialto in Brooklyn, it was purported to be a local project using a local architect and financing. It was to be operated by the Long Island Motion Picture Company, two of whose officers were the Alterman Brothers who are listed as the new owners when the theatre reopened as the Savoy in 1929.


robboehm on March 1, 2014 at 10:30 am

The former Rialto opened as the Savoy on December 28, 1929 under the ownership of local businessmen, the Alterman Brothers. In addition to a complete renovation there was the installation of a Western Electric sound system.

The Savoy became the first theatre in Queens to serve as a first run house for Warner Brothers films.

robboehm on April 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I was looking at the Century Brooklyn Rialto and found reference this “second” one built by Schwartz. Kind of unusual to have two theatres with the same name in a small local chain.

TLSLOEWS on January 9, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Thanks Tinseltoes.Nice link.

RobertR on April 17, 2009 at 10:36 am

Check out those titles
View link

LeeTyler on March 27, 2008 at 10:40 am

Don’t think I have seen those pics before. Thanks, Warren!

LeeTyler on July 16, 2005 at 6:00 am

Yes Mr. Doc, that feeling of loss can’t compare to the likely daily loss of patron’s bodily fluids that ensued on the floor and the seatbacks of the Savoy in it’s latter years. Tawk' about a sticky floor! DOH!!

jeffbackdoc on July 15, 2005 at 12:56 am

thanx, v. now i can stop seeing my shrink to resolve that feeling of a persistent sense of loss.

GeorgeStrum on July 14, 2005 at 4:35 pm

To Jeffbackdoc, I managed to go once to this theatre during it’s final porno phase and you didn’t miss much. The fare was typical 42nd street grind house “soft” porn with bad grainy scratchy prints.What I was intrigued with more was the ghostly images of the decor that indicated the former grandure of the house.

jeffbackdoc on July 13, 2005 at 12:21 pm

lee tylers brother here. i remember the last time my dad tried to get us in. huge sign in lobby, “let’s face it, folks. the world has gone sex crazy and we are simply meeting the demand. sorry for any inconvenience”. man, did we ever want to get in then…the heck with the westerns and sci fi flix. but dad said nix to us hormone charged juveniles. i guess that’s progress?!?!?!? jeffbackdoc

LeeTyler on May 25, 2005 at 2:44 pm

Hey Warren, I beat you to it…and then some. Scroll up a few posts. Thanks for posting!


LeeTyler on March 1, 2005 at 8:19 pm

That sticky-ass floor in there had a personality all by itself! Some days I got up and almost lost my sneakers!! —Lee

EMarkisch on March 1, 2005 at 8:17 pm

Lee…Thanks for putting the facade back into focus for me. It could have been that during my Savoy movie-going days in the 50’s, the facade was sort of overpowered by and lost in the shadows of the old Jamaica Avenue el.
In any event, the Savoy was quite unique and had a personality all its own.

LeeTyler on March 1, 2005 at 7:43 pm

Hey Erwin. Glad you dug that pic I dug up, but I wasn’t on this planet until 1957, so I cannot comment on those 1950’s years. ;o) That facade was definately there in the 60’s-70’s according to my memory. All I really remeber is the Steve Reeve’s “Hercules” movies and those Bowery Boy features…..and the free hot dogs and buttered pop corn. LOL! From what I remember of the lobby, it was fairlt ornate kinda like the Valencia and the RKO Keith in Flushing….but not quite as detailed and smaller in scale. Interesting memorabilia!

EMarkisch on March 1, 2005 at 5:55 pm

Lee Tyler….Thanks for posting the picture of the Savoy, pre 1932, when it was the Rialto. As the Savoy, I recall that the marquee was a silver and black Art Deco design. However, for the life of me I cannot recall the facade above the Savoy marquee. Certainly not the imposing one as pictured above the Rialto marquee in the old photo. Was it changed at the time that the Savoy marquee was installed? Or has my memory gone south? Does anyone recall what the facade looked like during the 1950’s?
I do vividly recall the lobby which was oval or round and painted all white. They used to have great displays of the b/w stills advertising the upcoming triple features.

chconnol on January 27, 2005 at 9:44 am

Valencia: So the three theaters you name (Valencia, Alden and Merrick) were still thriving in 1965. But when, do you estimate, did they begin to decline and finally die out?

It seems to be that the trend for movie theaters in NYC was that until the late 60’s, they still had some of their old grandeur left. But seemingly very abruptly, it all changed around 1969 or so. Do you think this is true? I’m just curious.

You can trace an area’s urban decline by the way the theaters were maintained in some cases.

GeorgeStrum on January 27, 2005 at 7:31 am

I lived in Jamaica from 1965 to 1978. I remember when the Valencia, Alden, Merrick and Savoy were still thriving. I actually have taken Valencia as one of my cyber names. Even in 1966 the Valencia was a beautiful theatre with most of its features still intact. It was there and the purchase of my first book, Best Remaining Seats got me interested in old theatres. I smoked my very first cigarette in the balcony at the Merrick. The Merrick was awesome even then. The ushers were still uniformed like they were at Radio City. The Alden was rather plain but serviceable. Now the Savoy at that time was in it’s last gasps. I must admit I was curious to take in what was then the “adult” show. On the screen was typical grainy 42nd Street porn, more soft core variety. Once was enough for me I had to leave. However I took in the decor, walls. fixtures and knew this was once a movie palace. The Savoy is long gone making way for York College. Jamaica now has a multiplex that replaces all the dead theatres. Valencia now is indeed a well kept church.

LeeTyler on October 22, 2004 at 4:52 pm

I was even able to read the marquee. This is what was playing at the time. A film made in 1922!!

LeeTyler on October 22, 2004 at 4:50 pm

Looky heeya! I believe this is actually a photo from the 20’s or 30’s of the Savoy when it was still called the Rialto. Ya' think this is the one I was referring to? It was found on a site called QUEENSPIX.COM. Chime in if you can on this. Thanks! —-Lee

RobertR on October 2, 2004 at 9:44 am

Yes I have a few old movie pages from the Long Island Press and got the information there.