Friday, January 8, 2010

Hello again: Revisiting the past of St. Mark's Place and Second Avenue



On Wednesday night, we noted that the sidewalk shed was finally being removed from the northwest corner of Second Avenue and St. Mark's Place...And seeing the corner again....




...got me thinking about one of its former occupants, the St. Marks Cinema. According to Cinema Treasures, a theater was in operation at this location from 1914 to the spring of 1985. (Jeremiah had a Jim Jarmusch-related post on the Cinema in July 2008 that you should read.)

There are many fine remembrances of the place in the Cinema Treasures comments section, such as this one:

We lived on the Bowery near the St. Marks from the 60's thru the 80's. It was fondly nicknamed "The Itch". Nobody dared sit in the front row because it was reserved for the "Hell's Angels" ... Everyone was stoned. I remember a triple feature of "Eraserhead", "Freaks", and at midnight "El Topo" ( or El Poto"). After the show we staggred out and had cabbage soup at the Kiev. Those were the days.


Meanwhile, here are some shots that were linked to the Cinema Treasures page...





...the theater also showed "Return of the Jedi." (Last listing in the Manhattan section.)



Cinema images via here, here and here.

For further reading:
St. Marks Cinema and Theatre Condos both via Jeremiah's Vanishing NY.

16 comments:

Larry Slade said...

I think the St. Marks was the last theater that I smoked a joint in during the picture.
Then after that Kim's Video was upstairs there for a few years.

Jeremiah Moss said...

nice find with the photos. the only marquee shot i ever found was in the movie Moscow on the Hudson.

in one of them you can see Baczynsky meat market--still there!

EV Grieve said...

Yes! The East Village Meat Market is one of my favorite signs in the neighborhood. And I wonder what ever happened to the St. Marks Marquee...

mr roses said...

My friends and I used to call it The Crying Baby Cinema.

When American Gigolo showed, one of the (probably 12) people in the auditorium shouted "Louder!" as Blondie's "Call Me" theme came on. The projectionist proceeded to torture him by teasing the volume louder and then turning it most of the way down through the rest of the credits.

Would you get such personalized attention anywhere nowadays? I think not.

Bowery Boogie said...

@ mr roses, that's awesome. and definitely not. the projectionist would get fired.

Anonymous said...

I have 30 years of institutional memory about that corner - ask me anything.

My highlights:

1. A stripper we used to call Coco Puffs and 2 off duty cops seemingly always together in the back row.

2. Double feature of Suspiria and Driller Killer at midnight.

3. Crunch started out in the basement there.

4. There used to be a leather store nestled in there -great place to fence stolen goods.

5. The Gap - with super cheap discount rack - useful when you had not done laundry in too too long.

6. The Kirlian Witness - look it up.

7. Enter 2nd Ave. Exit St. Marks.

8. $1 double features.

Barbara Hanson said...

Can't believe I had completely forgotten that theater. I do, however, remember that the Gap moved stuff to the discount racks on Tuesday. I was always there if I had a buck or two in my pocket.

jia en said...

I live there!

BabyDave said...

Ah, the day I sat through Saturday Night Fever for three straight showings there. Well, I suppose "straight" didn't really apply.

EV Grieve said...

@ Jia En

The Theatre Condos? They look nice.

EV Grieve said...

@ anon 10:02 a.m.

Thanks anon. I was not familiar with The Kirlian Witness!

Was the front row reserved for the Hells Angels per the Cinema Treasures commenter?

Why did the theater ultimately close...?

jodi sh doff said...

I remember you could smoke anything you wanted in the lobby but not in you seats - fire hazard.

I remember $2 double features

I remember going there so strung out on dope I had to by popcorn just to have the container to throw up in

I remember when the Gap opened - and one of the local street peeps dropped his drawers, backed up and shat directly on the big plate glass window. The East Village was very creative, vocally and fecally, about expressing its opinion on the encroaching gentrification...

RIP St. Marks Cinema

EastVillageOldie said...

Wasn't the NEC (Negro Ensemble Company) there for years? And the Naked Grape clothing store on the corner where the pizza place is (and then the Gap)?

Anonymous said...

The double features for a dollar were awesome. I used to always go for the Holy Grail/Jabberwacky double feature which they seemed to run every year for a while.

esquared said...

hey, so I just did this what was there then and now (superimposing and fading the then to the now) for St. Marks Cinema,

http://www.whatwasthere.com/browse.aspx#!/ll/40.728693,-73.987607/id/33461/info/sv/zoom/14/

you're welcome

Anonymous said...

The beautiful building next to the library was white then>>>>???? What was it used for at the time? Clinic?