490 E. 138th Street,
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Previously operated by: Consolidated Amusement Company
Previous Names: Teatro Puerto Rico, Cinema Center
Situated in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, the Forum Theatre first opened in February, 1923, with vaudeville and movies. Newspaper advertising claimed 3,000 seats, but no reference books have ever cited more than 2,300.
It was operated by the Consolidated Amusement Company chain but the Forum Theatre struggled to survive against competition from the Loew’s, RKO and Skouras circuits. But its luck changed at the end of WWII, when it was re-named Teatro Puerto Rico, presenting Hispanic stage shows that attracted patronage from all over the Greater New York area.
When the novelty wore off, it switched to wrestling matches, which had become highly popular on TV. Finally closing in the wake of the neighborhood’s decline, it re-opened in 1994 as a performing arts center for the Hispanic community. The auditorium was divided into three, two for “live” usage and one for showing the latest Hollywood movies with Spanish subtitles.
Unfortunately, the project failed and the site was closed. At last report, one of the three auditoriums was being used by the Brazilian based Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
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