East 86th Street Cinemas
210 E. 86th Street,
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Architects: John W. Averitt
Firms: Averitt Associates
Previous Names: Yorkville Casino Theatre, 86th Street Casino Theatre, 86th Street East Cinema
Built in 1904, by 1914 it was operating as a 1,000-seat movie theatre named Yorkville Casino Theatre, a name it carried until at least 1931. By 1932 the seating capacity had been reduced to 600 and it had closed by 1933. By 1935 it had reopened as the 86th Street Casino Theatre, still with 600-seats. It was a neighborhood movie theatre in the predominately German speaking Yorkville section of Manhattan where German language imports had their U.S. premieres before moving on to the other German language houses like the Wagner Theatre in Ridgewood and, if I remember correctly, the Irvington Theatre in Irvington, New Jersey and other cities. This was in the very late-1940’s til the mid-1960’s.
As the ethnicity of Yorkville changed and the popularity of the Upper East Side increased, the theatre was closed in 1965 and re-modeled into the 86th Street East Cinema. By 1968, it was daydating with Loew’s Capitol Theatre with movies such as “In the Heat of the Night” and ran for a good ten years as a United Artists showcase/Red Carpet theatre under the guise of Town & Country Theatres as a single screen. Movies shown at that time included “Around the World in Eighty Days” (re-issue), “The Hospital”, “The Scalphunters” and Jame Bond movies such as “On He Majesty’s Secret Service”. The seating capacity as a single screen was around 600-800 seats, in three wide aisles. After UA slowed down, and tended to send its movies to say the UA East Theatre, the 86th Street East Cinema was also a Universal and Warner Bros. showcase, with movies such as “Freebie and the Bean” and “The Great Waldo Pepper”.
It was twinned on June 12, 1987 and played movies such as “The Accidental Tourist”, “Alien Nation”, “Blue Steel”, “Blue Heat” and “Miracle Mile”.
It was gutted and converted into a 4-screen theatre on May 21, 1999, now having a great post-industrial feel. It was operated by City Cinemas who closed it on May 10, 2019.
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