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 1,283 comments)

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on May 26, 2017 at 8:57 am

At least the plan to use the landmarked lobby as the entryway makes more sense than the original plan, which was for the lobby to be encased in glass. (Given that the lobby would really only be visible from within, that made no sense at all. What would anybody have seen — the back side of the walls enclosing it?) However, as anyone who has seen all the photos of the surviving auditorium posted here knows, the fact that the rest of the building will be demolished is tragic. “According to the current estimated project schedule, removal of historic material will begin next month and the demolition of the non-landmarked surrounding building will begin in late October.” I assume that the “historic material” to which they refer is limited to the pieces of the lobby that need restoration — not all the artwork and architectural details that remain in the rest of the building.

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on May 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

Whatever is in the auditorium will go down when they demolish it. Doubt anything will be saved

BobbyS
BobbyS on June 12, 2017 at 7:45 pm

And the saga goes on & on……I will believe it when the ball & crane comes in. Still say the apartments should be built above the theater which could be restored. People need more than the tv or personal screens for entertainment!

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on June 12, 2017 at 8:27 pm

The community does not care about it. The politicians also do not give a hoot.More importantly there is nothing left to save. I worked on saving it during the 80’s . Save what you can as trying to restore the theater as it was is a pipe dream.

BobbyS
BobbyS on June 12, 2017 at 8:49 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 10:29 am

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 11:35 am

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 1:15 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 2:24 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 10:14 am

Ahem, I’m back…

Signed, Loew’s Kings

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