Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A little bit of Hollywood on Avenue A

Well, let's keep the old movie theater theme going this week... Take a look at East Village Farms on Avenue A between Seventh Street and Sixth Street...and you'll likely be able tell that it used to be a movie theater...



According to the always-reliable Cinema Treasures:

Located on an ever-busy stretch of Avenue A, in the heart of the East Village, this theater is easy to miss. Opened as the Avenue A Theatre in 1926, it was operated by RKO, followed by Loew's, and was closed in 1959.

Today, it's merely a receptacle for retail space on the former orchestra level of the remains of the original auditorium, which have been converted into a health-oriented grocery store called the East Village Farm. The theater's lobby was also converted into retail space, but has been empty for several years.

Like other theaters in this area, the theater's auditorium runs parallel to the street, with a narrow entrance on Avenue A. Much of the theatre's exterior has survived, including its emergency staircase. The decorations in the auditorium are thought to survive, above the false ceiling of the ground floor store.


One of the Cinema Treasures commenters got a peak inside at the mysterious upstairs...perhaps this is where the never-ending supply of sea salt chips are stored...






And here's what the Hollywood looked like circa 1949:



Photos via Cinema Treasures commenters.

12 comments:

Mykola Dementiuk said...

You made another notation of it earlier, a few months ago, (winter?) you didn't know what it was then.

When I was about six or seven we snuck into the burned out shell of the movie theater. I was scared and frightened by the destroyed darkness and fled out of there. I remember fleeing home on 7th Street with the big boys laughing behind me.

Mick

www.mykoladementiuk.com

Melanie said...

Looks really cool in it's day.

Larry Slade said...

Thanks. I've been wondering about this old theater for years. Nice to finally have a peek inside.

Goggla said...

Wow, I've always wanted to see the inside of this place. Sometimes, that fire escape door is open and I've been tempted...cool.

geoff matters said...

So jealous, I've always wanted to peek in here... shared goggla's temptation when seeing the door open, tried to plan how I would climb up from the pizza shop's doorway over the sunglass vendor to reach it.

Boris said...

Here's a really cool one on Canal between Essex and Ludlow. I keep hoping someone will rescue it from chinese warehouse status and use it for some sort of performance purpose.

Here, you can see the side of the building, with a mural that as it turns out, depicts films being projected.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wotba/2495866480/

The building is Loew's Canal Theatre, built in 1927 with a 2200 capacity, currently being used as a chinese loading dock.

The entrance to the theater however, is now an electronics store, as seen here:

http://www.walkingoffthebigapple.com/2008/05/walking-off-lower-east-side-mural-movie.html

Here is an awesome aerial view (zoom in for a better look):

http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=qskkz48v0bks&style=o&lvl=2&scene=1766426#JnE9eXAuMTYrbHVkbG93K3N0cmVldCU3ZXNzdC4wJTdlcGcuMSZiYj00MC43MTYyMzU3MDI3MDAzJTdlLTczLjk4ODc4NTkyMjg2MTQlN2U0MC43MTI5MjQ1NDkwOTMxJTdlLTczLjk5MjU0OTA0NzAyNzM=

Here is a photo of the old marquee:

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/137-3779_IMG.jpg

When Cat on a Hot Tin Roof premiered, it played at the theater! (Scroll down to "Manhattan"):

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a13/ChmnofBrd/Movie%20Ads/Maggie.jpg

And here is a before (in the 1940's) and after:

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g128/davidbellel/loewscanal.jpg

This is what the insides look like (reportedly much of this splendor remains today!):
http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/126-2669_IMG.jpg
http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/126-2625_IMG.jpg
http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/126-2628_IMG.jpg
http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/126-2629_IMG.jpg

~evilsugar25 said...

this is awesome! i just bought my iced coffee and egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll here this morning. i had always thought it was probably a theater... it's amazing to see the detail left inside. i don't understand where the "unrented lobby" is supposed to be though. i can hardly believe that this is all this space is being used for.

Scott said...

Thanks for the post. That first photo you have up here of that building is the exact view I had from my bedroom for 9 years. I always wanted to know what was on the inside – impressive!

Anyone have any photos of the deli that was there before East Village farm?

~evilsugar25 said...

hey boris - great post. thanks for all the linkage. i just bookmarked "walking off the big apple" for future exploration.

unfortunately, all the pix on photobucket of the interior in the last section are now gone (404)... any ideas?

EV Grieve said...

Indeed, thanks Boris...

Anonymous said...

The first crime was turning these beautiful theatres into grocery stores and worse, or just letting them rot until the inevitable demolition. Such theatres should be restored and returned to operation as cinemas and performance spaces.

- East Villager

patty d said...

I remember when this theater was a pioneer supermarket in the 1960's...a good friend of my family owned it back then...i do believe one of the offices was used as the store office..dont remember what came directly after that, but i do remember another pioneer market in the 1970's owned by a former employer of mine....sorry to see the theater being torn down...hope the new addition has room for more low and moderate income housing which the east village/lower east side desperately needs...was born and raised in this neighborhood and I honestly do not like the large buildings being errected...spoils the image of the neighborhood