Alhambra Theatre

783 Knickerbocker Avenue,
Bushwick,
Brooklyn, NY 11207

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Alhambra Theatre May 1925

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Situated in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, the Alhambra Theatre was originally a vaudeville theatre operated by the Ward & Glynne circuit. It opened on December 31, 1914, and was designed by Arthur G. Carlson of the architectural firm Carlson & Wiseman and had a seating capacity for 1,500. In 1918, it was enlarged, with a balcony added, and the seating capacity became 2,200.

In 1923, when Loew’s Inc. acquired W & G’s Astoria Theatre in Queens, it also took over the Alhambra Theatre and ran it for a few years, but with movies that were at the end of their circuit bookings. It was remodeled in 1927 by noted theatre architect Thomas Lamb.

Loew’s eventually leased it to various “indie” owners, including Randforce Amusement Corp, the Alhambra Theatre ceased operation in 1951. After laying unused for several years, it was announced in December 1959 that it would be converted into a supermarket, initially operated by Safeway. It was used as a day-care centre for many years. In late-2014 plans were put in force to convert the building into apartments.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 116 comments)

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 19, 2010 at 7:44 am

I just linked an article that I recently wrote in the terrific BushwickBk blog that discussed a number of old Bushwick theaters, including the Alhambra. Several vintage and current pictures of this site also appear in an extended slideshow that also includes a number of other old theater sites. Hope you enjoy it.

View link

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on May 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Here’s a pre-construction sketch of the Alhambra Theatre: brooklynpubliclibrary

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on September 28, 2013 at 7:05 am

A local blog called Wyckoff Heights, which covers real estate transactions very thoroughly, is reporting that the old Alhambra will be converted into 24 units of housing. Given its location just off a recently restored Irving Square Park, this is not a surprising development. I hope alternate space will be identified for the day care center, though I doubt it.

Jpic121
Jpic121 on December 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm

In doing some family history research I have learned that I am the Great grandson of Arthur G. Carlson. I was surprised to see some of his works shown here.

John, in one of your earlier posts you mentioned how you did not know why one architect had taken credit for most of the works and Carlson only showed up once or twice. The reason for this is that my Great Grand Father Arthur died at the age of 35 leaving his partner Weisman to use and finish Arthur’s designs.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm

In the photo section, Tinseltoes recently posted an ad for the movie “The Soul of Buddha”, staring Theda Bara. Since the picture was released in 1918, the year the Alhambra opened, this must have been one of the earlier films to be presented here.

By the way, both the ad and the Brooklyn Theatre index indicate a 2,200 capacity for the Alhambra. The Index also does not allude to any capacity decrease that subsequently occurred. For this reason, the 1,600 capacity noted at the top of the page is apparently wrong and needs to be corrected.

Astyanax
Astyanax on December 30, 2013 at 5:58 am

The appearance of the Alhambra with the rounded corner tower, reminds me of the architecture of the Foley, built about 20 years earlier on Graham Ave. Was there an architectural connection?

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 30, 2013 at 8:06 am

Astyanax, I think you are referring to the FOLLY Theatre, which once graced the corner of Graham Ave. and Debevoice St. In looking at photos of the two theaters, one does notice a slight resemblance. However, they were the work of different architects – Dodge and Morrison for the Folly and Carlson and Wiseman for the Alhambra.

While I am at it, thanks site manager for changing the Alhambra’s capacity figure so promptly.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on October 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

The Wyckoff Heights blog, which in 2013 reported that the old Alhambra will be converted into housing, has now printed a rendering of what the new residence will look like. (You can access this site at wyckoffheights.org) It will now house 38 apartments – instead of the 24 previously reported; the rendering also seems to indicate that a third floor will be added to it – hence perhaps the increase in apartments. A 2015 opening date is also provided.

While the facade, which currently features almost none of the old movie house’s ornamentation, will be modernized, the current building will be retained. And the rounded tower at the corner will still be with us. By the way, the name of the new residence will be the Alhambra Theatre Apartments.

Bway
Bway on October 23, 2014 at 10:19 am

A real nice project for the area. While none of the original exterior of the building still remains anyway, and am pretty sure very little if any of the interior of the old Alhambra, this does improve the building, while still keeping a small hint of it’s former purpose as a theater. A win for everyone.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on October 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Bway, I guess the one thing that was NOT a win was the loss of the day care center, a badly needed facility, at this location. Hopefully, an alternate site has been identified, though – in this rapidly gentrifying area – I have my doubts. In any event, the current use as a day care center noted at the top of the page needs to be changed.

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