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Firms: DeRosa & Pereira
Previous Names: B.S. Moss' Coliseum Theatre, RKO Coliseum Theatre, New Coliseum Theatre
News About This Theater
- Mar 21, 2012 — Upper Broadway's forgotten movie theaters
- Jan 16, 2012 — Washington Heights locals want to save neighborhood theater
Located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, on the northwest corner of W. 181st Street and Broadway, the B.S. Moss' Coliseum Theatre boasted to be the third largest theatre in Manhattan, with 3,462 seats, when it opened on September 23, 1920. Original plans were drawn by architect William H. McElphatrick but they was not used. The plans by architects Eugene DeRosa & Percival Raymond Pereira were approved by B.S. Moss Enterprises who launched the theatre. It was equipped with a Moller 3 manual 15 ranks theatre organ. The orchestra pit had a capacity for 25 musicians. It later came under the management of RKO.
In its heyday it hosted B.F. Keith’s Vaudeville and many of the most famous vaudeville acts came to the stage of the Coliseum Theatre. The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Uncle Don’s Kiddie Show, and Gertrude Berg of television’s “The Goldbergs” were among the performers who had been there. It became a full-time movie theatre in 1934.
On November 10, 1978 it was twinned by dividing the mezzanine, while the orchestra section was converted into retail use occupied by New York & Co., Bravo Supermarket, Radio Shack and Easy Connections. At this time the ornate original ceiling in the auditoriums could still be seen and appreciated by those who have a passion for nostalgia. The spectacular RKO ‘lightening bolt’ neon lit marquee that wrapped around the corner entrance was removed in 1984. Cineplex Odeon closed the twin on November 9, 1989.
It was was re-opened under new independent management on June 28, 1991, operating a a quad.
The theatre closed in 2002, but reopened in July 2004, as the New Coliseum Theatre, operated by Jesus Nova. By 2009 it was named Coliseum Cinemas using a former exit off the original main foyer as its main entrance. It was closed on November 3, 2011. It was being prepared for demolition in November 2019. Demolition began in March 2020 and was completed in November 2020.
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