Empire Theatre

864 Westchester Avenue,
Bronx, NY 10459

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Letter, April 6, 1915

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Empire Theatre opened around 1894, with 1,660 seats. It stood on Westchester Avenue at 161st Street. Starting about 1940, the Empire Theatre became one of the first Spanish-language movie houses in the Bronx.

The Empire Theatre has long served as a church, but was demolished in late Summer of 2009.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 21, 2005 at 7:25 am

For a time in the 1930s, this was operated by the RKO circuit, playing subsequent-run to the area’s leader, the RKO Franklin. A B&W photo in “New York, Empire City 1920-1945), taken in May, 1940, shows a row of street fences in the Bronx with local movie ads posted on them. One is for the RKO Empire, which was showing "Goose Step”, an anti-Nazi film once banned by the New York State Censors. The RKO Franklin was advertising “Virginia City” & “Curtain Call.” The indie Tower was playing “Remember the Night” & “Man From Dakota.”

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 27, 2006 at 10:11 am

Listed in the 1943 edition of Film Daily Yearbook as being operated by RKO Theaters. It has gone from listings by 1950. From February 1954 a C.O. was issued for use as a church.

Here are four photographs of the Empire Theatre I took in June 2005:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 27, 2006 at 10:53 am

I think that RKO dropped the Empire earlier than 1943. The Empire is not mentioned in an ad published in The New York Times on Christmas Day, 1941 that lists all RKO theatres in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 27, 2006 at 11:51 am

Thanks Warren…Well we all know that the F.D.Y. can be a little tardy and sloppy with its listings at times.

Yves Marchand
Yves Marchand on October 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Just passed by two weeks ago… The building has been recently demolished.

Markiebee800 on September 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Used to live on Stebbins ave & 163rd… We used to go to that church in the summertime for free lunches in the 70’s.. A school is right on the corner..

pcrown on February 25, 2013 at 9:53 am

My grandfather, Sydney S. Cohen, ran the Empire Theater for a number of years, including 1915. The theater letter head stationery from that time includes, “Operated and controlled by the Sydco Photoplay Corporation, 331 Madison Avenue”, which was one of Sydney’s companies. In a letter to his wife, Bertie, mailed on April 6, 1915, he notes “Another big night at Bronx $184.95 = Tuesday”

I would be very interested in hearing from you if you have more information about the Empire Theater around 1915.

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