Rialto Theatre

149-50 15th Road,
Whitestone, NY 11357

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Rialto Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This small theatre in Whitestone, a community north of Flushing, Queens, operated for several decades with late-run double features, but early fell victim to competiton from home televsion.

More information is needed about the Rialto’s history and present status.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 12, 2006 at 9:54 am

The photos I posted above are located here now that I’ve reorganized my photobucket account. The old links no longer work.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 3, 2006 at 10:09 am

There’s a rare B&W photo from 1946 of the Rialto’s marquee and entrance in Jason Antos’s “Whitestone,” recently published by Arcadia as a $20 paperback. Most chain bookstores in the Greater New York area have browsing copies available in their travel sections.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 27, 2007 at 9:16 pm

I was on the block earlier today and pulled over to see if the place was open. While the doors were locked and the lights turned off, I could look through the small square porthole windows on the front doors and note that there seems to be a small vestibule leading to a set of doors leading into the large gym space. The vestibule floor seems to retain the original upwards slope towards the inner doors and I suspect that this may have been the original outer vestibule under the theatre’s canopy. Next time I’m in a Barnes & Noble, I’ll have to look for the “Whitestone” book Warren posted about above and check out the 1946 image of the Rialto for comparison.

Those inner doors were open when I visited today, by the way, and I could make out that the space beyond is one big open room right back to the rear wall of the building. It was too dark to make out any details. I wonder if any elements remain at all – perhaps on the ceiling?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 18, 2008 at 7:36 am

A recent photo of the building as the home of the Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League can be seen in the new article about Whitestone at www.forgotten-ny.com

DGO79 on April 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

I have very fond memories of The Rialto. JJF is right—we called it the itch—probably because it was pretty funky and your feet stuck to the floor. I went to the Saturday double features—generally movies that had long seen their day in theaters. I loved the horror and sci fi movies. For instance, I saw the double feature of the original “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” there. I think the doors opened at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon. I would bring 51 cents: 26 cents(?)for the ticket and 25 cents to spend in the snack machines (there was no candy counter) which dispensed soda, popcorn and ice cream. I think the owner would sell the tickets and then go upstairs and run the projector. There was a matron who would prowl the aisles with the flashloight and intimidate the kids. I went to PS 79 which was a block away and rememmber when they gutted it either 1957 or 1958.

bigman39 on October 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm

I remember the itch.Sat Matinees had a double feature newsreel 15 cartoons a serial or 3 stooges coming attractions and Maybe a guest appearance by Superman(Bud Collier), Brace Beemer (The lone ranger) or Floyd Buckley The red Lantern from the land of the lost. I learned all about necking in the back row. Mr Schafter was the owner it was a family run theatre. H sent his grandson to college to become a lawyer.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm

According to the Dwarf Giraffe website the theater was purchased in 1966 and had been used as a Jewish Temple in the years since the Rialto closed. The Athletic League gutted the “theater floor” – per their description – for conversion to a gym. There are photo galleries on the website that show numerous views of the space, and indeed, it appears the room was gutted to the bare brick walls. However, it is possible that the ceiling – which consists of several widely spaced cross beams with either a tin or coffered motif in the recesses and crown molding (all painted white) – may be original to the theater.

Tinseltoes on July 1, 2011 at 8:33 am

What a strange location for a movie theatre! If one steers around the Google Maps view, the building is surrounded by private homes on both sides of the street. Could that view actually be the rear of the cinema, which might have had its front entrance on the next street?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Nope. That is the front of the theater, Tinseltoes. I uploaded some pics I took a few years back and included a pair of views of the theater’s rear wall from the next block over (which had to be viewed through the backyards of the neighboring houses).

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