RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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RKO Keith's Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Once one of the most celebrated movie palaces of New York City, the RKO Keith’s Theatre in the Flushing section of Queens, is only a ghost of its former self.

Opened as the Keith-Albee Theatre on December 25, 1928 with Clara Bow in “Three Week Ends” on the screen and Keith-Albee vaudeville on stage. By the 1970’s, the theatre had been tripled, and as legend has it, in 1986, after almost sixty years of showing movies, the theatre was closed and sold. Soon after, its owner attempted to demolish it before a hearing could be held to decide its fate.

Having already damaged its famous facade and with work commencing to gut the theatre, the demolition was halted by the city. The owner soon forfeited the property, and the damaged and stripped RKO Keith’s Theatre has sat and waited for its final demolition for almost 30 years.

Several plans have come and gone to convert the building into apartments, but it sits to this day.

Contributed by Ross Melnick, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 1,287 comments)

BobbyS
BobbyS on June 12, 2017 at 10:49 pm

I like pipe dreams..The community may not care for it, but could it not remain as a multiplex in some form. Maybe not fully restored, but in a modern type cinema? Movies are still very popular and it is in a dense area from what I see from the airplane above.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on June 13, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Also, “there is nothing left to save” is disproved by all the photos that have been posted here.

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on June 13, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Look at the photo on this page. Are you kidding? I have been in hundreds of theaters over the years as a historian. Many were derelict and some were in better condition than the Keith’s. They all had one thing in common and that is they never reopened . If you think this could ever be brought back as a functioning theater you do indeed believe in pipe dreams.No one in their right mind would sink money into it even if their was interest in it.The building itself may be unsafe . I was in it years ago and you could see that.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on June 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Of course the building is unsafe — in its current condition. Of course it would require a huge investment. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible or that there’s nothing left to save. Building a condo/office complex utilizing the air rights rather than demolishing what’s there is not beyond comprehension. Neither is an indoor concert venue in a densely populated area with access to mass transit that currently has none. Pipe dreams simply require someone with imagination to pay for the pipe.

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on June 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Last word. If it has not been done in 30 plus years it is not happening. If you want to continue to hold onto it please do.I am moving on. I will see the restored lobby when the building is finished. I want to see the restored Brooklyn Paramount which should be great

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Ahem, I’m back…

Signed, Loew’s Kings

BobbyS
BobbyS on July 5, 2017 at 11:40 pm

I’m with you Jeffrey1955!!

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on July 6, 2017 at 12:40 am

Glad to hear it, BobbyS! Now we just need several million dollars…

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on August 29, 2017 at 6:11 pm

April 19, 1936 photo added credit Percy Loomis Sperr. RKO Keith’s with roof top sign on the right.

NoUserNameUsed
NoUserNameUsed on September 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm

The RKO Keith’s movie theater was my favorite movie theater, I always looked forward to seeing movies there. And I always looked forward to possibly seeing a ghost in the upper balcony. I know you are going to say I’m a nut, but if you sat in the middle of the largest theater (after they split the theater up to show multiple movies at a time) anyway back to the ghosts, if you sat in the middle about half way up sometimes you would see movement only out of the corner of your eye in the upper right side balcony, but as soon as you turned your head to look they would be gone there was usually more then one person sitting in the balcony it was strange and thought I was seeing things especially since the upper balcony was closed off to the public. I asked a friend to verify what I was seeing and they said that I was crazy but the next that we went to see a movie, they too saw the ghosts as well. So believe it or not that’s one of the reasons that I loved going to the RKO Keith’s movie theater as well as the plush velvet seats ant old world movie theater experience. I MISS THAT WONDERFUL MOVIE THEATER. Michael

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