Idle Hour Theater

251 Jackson Avenue,
Long Island City, NY 11101

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The Idle Hour Theater was one of the first movie houses in western Queens, and started by using the auditorium of the Masonic Building on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, which is just across the East River from Manhattan.

By 1923, the operators had been able to save enough funds to build a real theater and adjoining stores directly across the street at Jackson Avenue & 12th Street. The New Idle Hour Theater never became more than a late-run “nabe”, but operated into the 1950’s.

More information about its history and the current status of the site would be appreciated.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

johndereszewski on August 28, 2010 at 1:30 am

Another gentle reminder to the site manager: Please add the 11101 zip code to the title. Since will make this page far more accessable to a larger number of readers.

johndereszewski on August 28, 2010 at 4:43 am

Wow that was quick, site manager. Thanks for the change!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 16, 2011 at 5:31 am

Just wondering if there should be a way of using an original (even if antiquated) address for a movie theater, while also displaying the modern address equivalent in the heading. Interesting that the obsolete address of 251 Jackson Ave has Google mapped to the exact spot where we believe this theater to have existed (now known as 24-29 Jackson Ave). Perhaps the site administrator did some hard-coding behind the scenes? I still think displaying both addresses where appropriate (and where known) would be very helpful. The modern address would map the location correctly, while listing the old address as well would provide some historic integrity.

Tinseltoes on August 16, 2011 at 6:55 am

The “Sunny-Side” needs to be removed from the address bar at the top of the listing. There is an area in Queens called “Sunnyside,” but it is east of Long Island City. The Idle Hour was in Long Island City, not Sunnyside. Sunnyside had three theatres of its own— the Bliss, Center, and 43rd Street. There was also the Sunnyside Theatre, just over the border in Woodside.

johndereszewski on August 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Ed, I entirely agree with your point about retaining, in some way, the original addresses of Queens based theaters like the Idle Hour. Beyond providing some historic integrity, the original addresses will be of value to researchers who wish to review old newspaper articles and theater digests that only refer to the old addresses.

johndereszewski on October 21, 2012 at 8:34 am

I just noticed the wonderful vintage picture of this old theater that was recently posted at the top of the page. What a terrific addition – and thanks to whoever made this contribution.

johndereszewski on June 10, 2013 at 6:41 am

I just read a message that Joe Vogel posted on the Vernon Theatre site last October that helps clarify the exact site of this theater. In an ad that memtions movies shown at both theaters, it provides a Court Square address for the Idle Hour. This is exactly where Ed Selero placed it in an earlier post and should, thus, resolve any uncertainty in this theater’s location.

Tinseltoes on July 27, 2013 at 7:27 am

This color postcard shows St. John’s Hospital in LIC. The institution later moved to the ex-Horace Harding Hospital on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, but is now defunct: licsundial

Tinseltoes on July 27, 2013 at 8:23 am

The ground site of St. John’s Hospital in LIC is now occupied by the massive Citicorp office tower. A video about the history of the hospital in LIC can be seen here, though I could catch no glimpses of the Idle Hour Theatre: queenscrap

johndereszewski on December 24, 2013 at 9:28 am

The wonderful poster regarding the “Voice of Ireland” that TT posted in the Photo section raises an interesting question. The very detailed description of the theater’s location – at 12th St. opposite St. John’s Hospital – would, under the current street configuration, be a physical impossibility. This is because the hospital site, which is near Court Square, would now be close to the intersection of Jackson Ave, and approximately 25th St. Thus, when the poster was printed – and the “Voices of Ireland” sang – a very different street configuration held sway. My guess is that the sequence of the old numbered streets was superceeded when the Borough of Queens initiated its comprehensive plan to reorganize all of the streets in the borough. This drawn out process started in the 1910’s and ended in the 1930’s. For the most part, this involved changing nemed to numbered streets but, in this case, it apparently resulted in the re-numbering of numbered streets.

It would also be great to know the date of the poster.

Finally, it is unfortunate that this page’s current main picture is a current google map of the vicinity – and probably not the correct vicinity – and not one of the terrific vintage photos. To find them, you need to enter the photo section. I really hope this situation is addressed by the site administrator.

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