RKO Royal Theatre
423 Westchester Avenue,
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Located in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx, the Royal Theatre first opened on September 7, 1913, and was one of the first large commissions for architect Thomas W. Lamb. Owner Percy Williams launched it with vaudeville only, but when he sold the theatre to Keith’s in 1918, movies were added. By that time, the Royal was so successful that Keith’s wanted Lamb to expand the seating capacity to 3,000 by combining the two separate balconies into one, but safety engineers nixed the project.
Inevitably, the theatre became the RKO Royal, first-run for the neighborhood but day-and-date with the circuit’s other Bronx theatres. After closure around 1965, it was demolished, but has yet to be replaced by anything but a parking lot.
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