Grand View Theatre

716 Woodward Avenue,
Ridgewood, NY 11385

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The Grand View Theatre located in the Ridgewood section of Queens was an early silent movie theatre. This theatre replaced an existing theatre at the same location. The prior theatres name is unknown at this time. The Grand View Theatre opened in 1912 and an estimate of its closure is 1915.

Contributed by TomScott

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

deleted user
[Deleted] on November 24, 2004 at 7:01 am

I would like to know as much about the history of this area to better make a determination on the prior theatres name.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 24, 2004 at 10:04 am

I’m trying to find out the history of this area myself. I’m interested in what role the LIRR played in the developement of the area. In one of the messages above, you posted that these small neighborhood theaters were “located near factories, taverns and other high traffic areas”. When this theater was open, the train ran on the ground and it was within two blocks of this theater. I don’t know exactly where the train station was located at that time but getting customers shouldn’t have been a problem. The construction of the “el” might have played a role in this theaters closing.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 24, 2004 at 10:27 am

Since this apparently lasted only three years or so, it was probably not a real “theatre,” but something hastily built or converted from existing premises to capitalize on the zooming popularity of movies. I doubt that it would have mattered whether it was near a train station or not, since the potential audience lived within walking distance.

Bway on November 24, 2004 at 4:24 pm

I mentioned this somewhere, but I forgot where. What is now the M train el was built in the 1800’s as a steam railroad. It was not an LIRR line. It is described as a “dummy steam railroad to the Lutheran cemetery” on old maps. A dummy steam engine was made in a way that would not frighten horses. It did indeed run on the ground. The stations were in the same places that they are now, at Seneca/Palmetto Sts, and at Forest/Putnam Aves. The Forest Ave was between Woodward Ave and Fairview Ave, just as it is now on the el. Eventually, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Corp, took over the steam railroad, and connected it to the end of it’s Myrtle Ave El at Myrtle/Wyckoff Aves, and the line ran rapid transit cars. There was a ramp from the station at Wyckoff, that went down to ground level and the el trains ran off the el there, and ran on the ground to Metropolitan Ave station. The el was completed in 1914 or 1915, at which time the elevated trains ran on the el, and the old right of way on the ground was converted to trolley service (which lasted into the 50’s).

deleted user
[Deleted] on November 25, 2004 at 3:53 pm

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Corp went bankrupt in 1919 and became the BMT sometime in 1923. Many of the Right Of Ways were owned by the L.I.R.R. since that RR has been around since the 1800’s. It is possible that the L.I.R.R. owned the land and leased it to the BRT.

Many early theatres were hastily built since codes were non existent or not enforced anyway. Many such theatres were fire traps and closed as new laws were passed. The cost of upgrading these buildings were prohibitive to the owner. Also many of the theatres were rented buildings with no leases so owners would sell the property when the real estate market dictated so.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 26, 2004 at 10:19 am

I have no idea what the LIRR used the property for. The deed only says that it was owned by them. A “hastily built” theater? Like the Ridgewood Folly? Tom said that the original theater was built in 1908 and sold around 1912. By 1915 this theater is supposed to be closed. The building that stands there today is listed as being built in 1916. Why would a building that was no more than 8 years old be torn down and replaced with another wooden building with a store on the bottom? Why not just convert the Grand View into a store? Going back to “hastily built” again, a building like the Ridgewood Folly wouldn’t be worth converting since it lacked a roof and the sidewalls were only about five or six feet high. This would lead me to believe that the Grand View was an open theater like the Folly was. Maybe it wasn’t the Folly but it was very similar.

Bway on November 26, 2004 at 10:29 am

The LIRR owning the property next to the right of way of the curent M line, had to mean that the LIRR had to have something to do with the old steam RR that preceded the Brooklyn Rapid Transit company.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 26, 2004 at 10:36 am

Good point! The train that ran on the ground was a steam engine. Maybe the LIRR did lease the ROW to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit or they leased the engine to them.

deleted user
[Deleted] on November 27, 2004 at 9:03 am

Very good observation. No roof would also lead me to believe that there was no basement. Indeed this was a hastily built theatre. I am inclined to discount any role that the railroad may have played in this. The building was in all likely hood in ill repair and needed to be replaced. Most Nickelodeons in that era were storefront operations. The Grand View or possibly Folly theatre were unique in being an open air theatre. More of a temporary structure than a true Nickelodeon.

Bway on April 27, 2009 at 7:50 am

They have built an apartment house on this site.

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