RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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RKO Keith's Theatre

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. It was closed on March 15, 1975 for conversion into a triple-screen theatre. It reopened with one screen operating on February 11, 1976 and opened with three-screens on April 27, 1976. One of the screens was showing Robert De Nero in “Taxi Driver”. 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 faƧade 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 1,310 comments)

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on May 25, 2019 at 5:37 pm

The whole building is going to be demolished. The land marked portions were removed. The plan is to restore them off site and reinstall them when construction is almost complete.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on May 26, 2019 at 4:27 am

Ah, what’s the use. It’s been so long now, nobody but a few of us old geezers even remember there was a theater there. I don’t even know why they’re bothering to return the “restored” lobby elements to the site, since they’ve apparently been moved elsewhere for restoration. Put them in the Queens Museum. At least they’ll be appreciated by more people there.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 2, 2020 at 2:50 pm

“ANOTHER CHANCE AT LIFE FOR RKO KEITH’S…New Proposal to preserve landmarks, add hotel, restaurant and more” are the headlines for a news report in the latest weekly issue of Queens Chronicle. Full article here

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on February 2, 2020 at 8:42 pm

How amazingly appropriate for that to appear on Groundhog Day! How many times can one say “I’ll believe it when I see it” and “Maybe this plan will come to fruition”?

Of course, I don’t actually see any difference between this plan and previous plans. They’re still going to demolish the theater and keep only the lobby. The only real change is in the composition of the building, adding a hotel and restaurant to the condos. Maybe they could add a little enclosed habitat for groundhogs?

robboehm
robboehm on February 3, 2020 at 12:40 am

I wonder if I’ll ever live to see the day when the future of the RKO Keiths, the Playhouse in Great Neck and the Times Square in Manhattan will all be resolved (and, of course, the Long Island Rail Road going into Grand Central Station and the completion of the Second Avenue Subway).

bazookadave
bazookadave on August 28, 2020 at 2:58 am

A buddy who lives near the RKO Flushing just told me the theater has been demolished. Or rather is undergoing demolition. I hope the ornate landmarked interiors were saved for reinstallation on site in the new structure.

robboehm
robboehm on August 28, 2020 at 3:14 am

I think only the lobby is being retained.

bazookadave
bazookadave on August 28, 2020 at 3:24 pm

I like the rendering that includes the original facade:

https://queenseagle.com/all/flushing-considers-latest-plan-for-historic-rko-keith-site-after-34-years-of-false-starts

robboehm
robboehm on April 10, 2021 at 11:49 pm

According to a local nothing has been done as yet.

JeffM55
JeffM55 on April 11, 2021 at 2:20 am

“According to a local nothing has been done as yet.” I am shocked – shocked! Round up the usual suspects…

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