High Theatre

Sands Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Does anyone have any information regarding the High Theatre, located on Sands Street near the Brooklyn Navy Yard? On the site currently is a 50+ year old NYC housing project. However, in the 1940’s the theatre was one of the first to exhibit Spanish language films to the newly arriving Puerto Rican community

Contributed by Astyanax

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

deleted user
[Deleted] on January 25, 2005 at 6:55 pm

There was another theatre not too far from this one on Gold Street it was called the Gold theatre does anyone remember it.

jflundy on December 24, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Gold had entrances on both streets. There was a corner store and the entrances fed around it into inner lobby. Big Navy traffic during WW2.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 24, 2007 at 4:03 pm

The 1914-1915 edition of American Motion Picture Directory has a Naval Family Theatre, 211 Sands Street, Brooklyn. The 1926 edition of Film Daily Yearbook lists the Navy Theatre, 211 Sands Street, with a seating capacity of 300.

The Gold Theatre, 178 Sands Street seems to first appear in the 1927 edition of Film Daily Yearbook. The Navy Theatre is still listed that year.

The 1930 edition of F.D.Y. has the Gold Theatre listed but not the Navy Theatre, nor is there a High Theatre in any listings that I have.

In 1941 the Gold Theatre is at 176 Sands Street and the seating capacity has increased to 544 (498 in 1943).

By 1950, there are no theatres operating in Sands Street.

Could the High Theatre be a later a name for the Navy Theatre? If screening Spanish Language movies it may not have got into the listings.

jflundy on December 25, 2007 at 6:02 am

I have a 1937 Telephone directory and it does not list either the Navy or High Theaters. It is possible that the Navy Theater closed when Talkies came into vogue, or as a result of the Depression which affected the activity in the Navy Yard. The entire commercial area around Sand Street was dependent on the Navy. Almost all the buildings were old and run down dating from the 19th or even 18th centuries. Bars,Pawn shops,Chop Suey Joints,cheap restaurants of all types,Penny Arcades, barber shops, tailor shops, trinket peddlers, dance halls and other activities were wide spread. The Naval Shipyard was a stable source of revenue but when the ships came in business boomed. Activity picked up in the late 1930’s and began booming in 1940 It is possible the Navy reopened as the High Theater.

jflundy on December 25, 2007 at 8:16 am

I have just recalled a memory from when I was quite young regarding a theater other than the Navy Theater which may be a candidate for the High Theater. It was down at the other end of Sands Street across from the vast Sands Street BMT elevated railway station complex where the various Brooklyn EL’s and surface trolley lines came together before some of them crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan.

I can’t recall the theater’s name but it was located on the ESE side of the station on the street crossing the T on Sands Street where it began in those times ( a short, dead end section of Sands Street still exists beginning at “Cadman PLaza East” with street numbers in the single digits). The station complex and EL structures were torn down in 1943 and much on the street structure and buildings of that period demolished as part of a process of slum clearance which extended from the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s. The station site itself is now part of Cadman Plaza. I can’t remember the name of the street which is now gone, but I think the theater was between High Street and Sands Street. The whole area was basicly destroyed and it is hard to reconstruct it in the mind. It may be that this theater had an additional entrance on Sands Street. This is pure conjecture, but several nearby theaters had entrances with marquees on two streets to increase walk in trade: Gold Theater, Tivoli Theater, Fox Theater, Loew’s Metropolitan.

keltym on January 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

The theater across from the housing project on Sand and Gold Street was the Gold theater. I remember when the housing project was built and indeed it served the Puerto Rican immigrants. I believe it was called Farragut Housing but am not sure. The theater was owned and operated by my Dad, in fact, the whole family. I have some programs around and the corporate seal.

johndereszewski on January 16, 2012 at 8:35 am

In consulting the Brooklyn Theatre Index, I found two former movie theaters situated on Sands Street – the Gold at 178 and the Navy Theatre at 207-11 – but absolutely no reference to a High Theatre. It should also be noted that the Navy Theatre does not have a page on CT. This lends credence to the theory expressed in a pevious comment that the High Theatre was really the Navy. ….. For the record, the Navy began life as the Louis Barr and Charles Levin Theatre in 1910; changed names to the Naval Family Theatre in 1914; and finally became the Navy Theatre in 1921. Its capacity was 300; Hy J. Nurich was listed as the architect; and it closed in 1927.

johndereszewski on January 16, 2012 at 9:03 am

One more thing. Whether it was the High, the Navy or whatever, there is no way that this theater was situated in Williamsburg. The current zip code is 11201, which serves Brooklyn Heights. The reference at the top of the page should be changed accordingly.

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