RKO Chester Theatre

1938 Boston Road,
Bronx, NY 10460

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RKO Chester Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Situated near a south entrance to the Bronx Zoo, the Chester Theatre first opened in December, 1927, under Keith-Albee management with vaudeville and movies. When it became the RKO Chester Theatre, the stage bills were dropped at the onset of the Depression. The double-feature programs were always first-run for the area, but day-and-date with other RKO outlets in the Bronx.

The theatre is probably best-remembered for being mentioned in Paddy Chayefsky’s TV play and movie, “Marty”: “How about calling up that big girl we picked up in the movies about a month ago up in the RKO Chester”…

When the theatre closed in 1968, its auditorium was converted into a warehouse, then later a car repair garage. The building stood for many years, with its adjoining office space and stores housing the Alps Hotel, a so-called “hot sheets” establishment.

It was demolished in May 2010.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 25 comments)

Rodney
Rodney on November 22, 2007 at 4:14 pm

For a fleeting second the RKO Chester is quite visible in the background of the Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly musical “ON the TOWN”, while on the el they are singing “Bronx is up and the Battery down”.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 3, 2008 at 6:06 am

Here’s a new link to the auditorium view described above on ½/07: View link

ntatap
ntatap on May 15, 2010 at 10:29 am

Unfourtnatly, The demolition of the Chester has begun. The building has scaffolds all around it with demolition contractor signs on it. I passed it on the Cross Bronx Expressway yesterday (14 May 2010) and the roof beams are now expossed and parts of the parapit walls are being removed. I have tried to get a look inside but the roll down door on the side is always closed ( I think the workers are getting access from the motel property next to the theater)

ntatap
ntatap on May 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I finally got a quick look at the work going on inside today. The roof is gone and it looks like just the walls are left, some of the arches were still intact but thats it. I asked a worker who was leaving about the balcony and he said its all gone. I had seen the inside about 12 years ago and most of the walls above the level of the auto repair shop where still intact as was the balcony, it was very surreal.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 19, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Thanks Anthony P.

ntatap
ntatap on June 26, 2010 at 7:27 am

Here is a link to a photo I took of the RKO Chester’s demolition. As you can see there is not much left. I went back the next day and finally got access to the site and there was even less. The eagle motiff over the bacony exit door was also gone. When I asked about it they said it was plaster and had been destroyed. It is a very sad end to a great theater
View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Sad Photos of the demolition Anthony P.

briandrum
briandrum on December 15, 2010 at 11:27 am

http://briandoherty.net/bits-and-pieces-1-3/
http://briandoherty.net/video-of-the-week-2/

I’m a school teacher in the area and only became aware of the theater’s significance as it was being demolished. Since then, I’ve watched Marty several times and always ask old-timers about the theater whenever possible. I posted some video and pics at the links above.

I was amazed that no one, seemingly, objected to the building’s demise. Very few of the area’s current residents are aware of what once was the RKO Chester.

briandrum
briandrum on September 4, 2011 at 8:38 am

The above links are broken. Here is the updated link.

I’m a school teacher in the area and only became aware of the theater’s significance as it was being demolished. Since then, I’ve watched Marty several times and always ask old-timers about the theater whenever possible. I posted some video and pics at the links above.

I was amazed that no one, seemingly, objected to the building’s demise. Very few of the area’s current residents are aware of what once was the RKO Chester.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdQNTd0ZCkk

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on June 20, 2014 at 10:48 am

I’ve just added an article to the photo section from September 9, 1954.

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