New Howard Theatre

102-08 159th Avenue,
Howard Beach, NY 11414

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New Howard Theatre

The Howard Theatre was opened prior to 1931. It was renamed New Howard Theatre around 1957. I always wondered why Howard Beach never had any movie theatres. Well it did — and an advertisement in a December 1958 Long Island Press lists it at 159th Road. It was showing “Sayonara” and “Forbidden Desert”. It also Tuesday night as being “Ladies Dish Night”. The New Howard Theatre was closed in 1964 with Paul Newman in “The Prize” & Jayne Mansfield in “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

JakeGittes on July 3, 2005 at 9:17 am

Theatre is now a butchers shop/pork store. Theatre closed sometime in 1964. Theatre marqueee remained intact until early 1970’s when the butcher took over spot. Last film to play was “The Prize” . One Sheet stayed in the showcase window till the space was refitted for the foodstore. IMDB shows release date for “The Prize” of 12/63. Pix probably made subrun by mid-64.

artpf on March 4, 2006 at 1:30 am

The final film at this theatre was The Prize AND Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter.
The word on the street in Hwd Bch was that the owner ran away with the money and that’s why it closed.
How it stayed open at all is a made man’s mystery. Adult tickets were 35 cents. there was no parking and the theatre was pretty much hidden from all except those who lived in Hwd Bch. That said, the only other movie house nearby was a 20 minute ride away!

Sherringford on June 2, 2007 at 7:46 am

I grew up in Howard Beach in the 1950’s and early 1960’s and remember both the old and new Howard Theater. It probably dated back to the teens or twenties when Howard Beach boomed as a resort destination. The theater apparently was designed for live performances (perhaps vaudeville) as well as movies. The old Howard had a big metal marquee hanging over the sidewalk with sockets for hundreds of small lights, all long gone by my time. There was a wide lobby with a box office window on the far left-hand side. I think there was a balcony, but if so it was never open during my time. The proscenium area had curtains, the front edge of a stage, and a small orchestra pit.

A local family took over about 1957 and renovated the theater as the New Howard. The marquee was replaced with a more modern one set flush against the wall. The box office was moved to the center of the entrance area which was covered with pink and white tile that had a hint of Hollywood glitter in it. I don’t remember much of the interior renovations except for a new heating/air conditioning system. Some attempt was made to book films earlier in their release, but we still had to go to the Crossbay or Lefferts to catch a really new film (I remember going to the Lefferts for “Some Like it Hot” in 1959 and “Psycho” in 1960).

The Howard was a popular place for Saturday matinees, filled with boisterous kids patrolled by a licensed matron. The floor was always sticky with candy and the movie screen often blemished by projectiles. For all its faults, a local movie house such as this provided an essential element in the experience of growing up in America during that time.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 2, 2007 at 8:16 am

The Howard Theatre is listed in the 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook with a seating capacity of 525.

The3100Rule on August 7, 2007 at 12:47 pm

The bulk of the theatre is now occupied by a body shop. I had some business there about nine years ago. On the wall of the shop was a press clipping from a local newspaper, possibly the old The Long Island Press. The article was a description of opening night of The Howard Beach Theatre. It described the silent movie which was shown and the orchestra which provided the accompaniment for the film.

I was in that theatre as a kid. I remember the dirt! I also remember that the owners wanted to show a purportedly imprudent movie. The pastor of Our Lady of Grace, the local Catholic church, mentioned it in his homily one Sunday and encouraged the parishoners to stop the showing of filth in our neighborhood. That was either Fr. Hardy, or Fr. Harrigan, I forget which.

After that mass, my mom took me to Stals Bakery which was across the street from the theatre for some kaiser rolls. That was a Sunday tradition in my house. I just remember being afraid of the crowd and the commotion in front of the theatre.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 7, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Lost Memory, any photos?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 7, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Fr. Hardy and Fr. Harrigan didn’t want filth in the movie theaters, they wanted it all in the rectory where it belonged! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

The3100Rule on August 7, 2007 at 6:07 pm

Low blow Saps! It ain’t funny either. I feel that I have to defend both of these men because they have both passed on and can not here to defend themselves. They were both straight as arrows and were the models of morality and what you would expect in a Catholic priest. Fr. Hardy lived and worked in the pre air conditioning days. His Summertime masses were held with the church doors and windows open. The rectory doors were open too. He had a little dog who would amble over in the Summer from the rectory, and lie down near the altar just to watch his boss work. He was a nice man and a good leader.

Fr. Harrigan was a bit of an iconoclast. No shades of gray for him, all black and white. The truth is saying what is, is and what is not, is not. There were no little white lies for that man. I have a feeling that he would have been the first to hang any priest who touched a kid, or was not true to his vows. In reviewing the nature of these pastors, I suspect that it was Fr. Harrigan who blew up over that New Howard Beach Theater movie.

There was another time that Sonny’s Clam Bar on Cross Bay Blvd. placed and ad in the Long Island Press for topless waitresses. Fr. Harrigan announced that one from the pulpit too. That was THE END of Sonny’s big plan to turn Cross Bay into slime street. That would have killed Howard Beach as a viable community too.

Fr. Harrigan would just not join in on the modern slippery slope to moral decay which we are now firmly set upon in our contemporary moral crisis. To my mind, that was a good thing.

jedweber on December 13, 2007 at 7:52 pm

I grew up in Howard Beach, and never knew this theater existed, although it was a bit before my time. The building can be seen here, in the 8th photo down: View link
It’s at the far end of the street (left side) with the dark red awnings.

artpf on January 6, 2019 at 2:16 pm

I really LOVE that pic from 1941!!!!! We moved to Hwd Bch when I was tiny on 1962, but I still remember this theatre. Interestingly, the pole in front of the theatre is still there — wonder if it’s the same one?

Also that house in the near distance is also still there, nearly 70 years later! It’s been updated a bit but it’s the same house.

This street is actualy 159th AVENUE not Rd. Maybe it was road some time in the past but definitely all my life it’s bee Avenue. And the other street opposite the street you are looking at (102nd St.) is not 103rd Street as someone said. It’s Coleman Sq. 103rd St was built when I was a teenager and it begins a block away. Like maybe the 70s. Before that it was weeds.

The second movie on the bill — Free and Easy — is a 1930 Buster Keaton movie!

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