Showing posts with label old movie theaters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old movie theaters. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2012

100 Third Ave.'s theater past

Last Thursday, we pointed out that 74 Third Ave., the former home of Nevada Smith's, was nearly demolished...

Meanwhile, if all goes to plan, Nevada Smith's should be reopening one day up the Avenue at 100 Third Ave., a building that has been under renovation for a seemingly long time. (We recently noted the building's new, gargantuan addition.)

Anyway, here's a quick snapshot on the history of 100 Third Ave.

The Bright Light Film Journal has an overview of the address, noting that it opened in 1880 as a restaurant ... later becoming a music hall. In 1910, the building began life as a theater called the Comet...

[Via Cinema Treasures]

... and later the Lyric (circa 1936 here)...


According to Cinema Treasures, it became the Jewel Theatre, which played all male films, in the 1960s. Some Cinema Treasure commenters posted movies ads for the theater.

From 1975:

From 1971:

Per the Bight Lights Film Journal:

Sporting tacky ornamentation like Greek pillars and an obsessive fondness for the ever popular whorehouse red, it was just as garish as its Times Square brethren. In the '70s it screened such fare as Joe Gage's Kansas City Trucking Company and El Paso Wrecking Corp., which ads billed as "Lusty, dusty, sweaty and hardhitting!"

In the 1980s, the place was renamed the Bijou, according to Cinema Treasures, and continued to show XXX fare.

In February 1989, City officials closed the theater (and the Variety the next block up), "charging that the owners of the Bijou Cinema were 'essentially operating an AIDS breeding ground with profit being the driving force,' Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, the New York City Health Commissioner," told The New York Times.

You can read more details at the Bright Lights Film Journal here.

Jeremiah's Vanishing New York has more history on other nearby, now-defunct theaters here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

And one more thing about St. Mark's Place and Second Avenue

[Via Urban Metaphysics]

One more thing on this corner, St. Mark's and Second Avenue... the St. Marks Cinema, which we have mentioned here. 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.)

And "Mask" and "Sixteen Candles" on the same bill in the photo circa 1984?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Loew's Commodore Theatre

While doing a Google search the other day, an article from a Virginia newspaper popped up... the writer, Fred Pfisterer, a retired editor for the paper, was reminiscing about seeing "Psycho" in New York City ... (The photo below is from the DeMille Theater on 47th Street and Seventh Avenue. Read that theater's history here.)

Pfisterer saw Hitchcock's classic at the Village Theater. As he recalls, "The theater manager advertised that a real nurse would be on hand for all showings in case any member of the audience became so frightened that they passed out or had a heart attack. The gimmick worked because it drew sold-out crowds to the theater for months."

What caught my attention from Pfisterer's article: "The theater, on Second Avenue between East 6th an 7th streets in the East Village, became the Fillmore East in 1968when entertainment promoter Bill Graham acquired it..."

Anyway, plenty has been written on the Fillmore East and promoter Bill Graham through the years ... (Jeremiah wrote about Ratner's and the Fillmore here ... Forgotten New York has photos of Jim Powers' FE mosaics here.)

And there has been plenty written about what became of the space in the 1980s -- the legendary Saint. (Check out the site dedicated to the Saint right here.)

But I wanted to know more about when the space was a movie theater. According to the always-reliable Cinema Treasures:

Originally opened in 1926 as the independently operated Commodore Theatre, this movie house/Yiddish theater was taken over by Loew's Inc. and later became known as the Village Theater. It can credit Lenny Bruce as appearing on its stage.

In March 1968 it became the Fillmore East concert venue. ....

In the fall of 1980, it was converted into what was to become New York City's best and most celebrated gay disco The Saint, which became famous world-wide. This continued until May 2, 1988 when the doors closed following a non-stop 48 hours party. The building was used spasmodically for a couple of years for live events, then stood empty for a few years until the auditorium was demolished in around 1995.

Today the narrow facade remains and the lobby is now remodeled as an Emigrant Savings Bank. Apartments/condos called Hudson East were constructed on the site of the auditorium.

According to a Cinema Treasures commenter, when it opened in 1926, the Commodore was the largest of the 10 movie theatres in operation on Second Avenue between Houston and Ninth Street. Also, the last films to show there appear to have been "A Ticklish Affair" and "Hootenanny Hoot" on Oct. 8, 1963.

Here's a photo of Timothy Leary circa 1966 from its days as an off-Broadway venue:

The Emigrant Savings Bank started going up in this space in 1997.... (As a Cinema Treasures commenter said, the entire land plot on which the auditorium once stood is now occupied by a six-story apartment building with the address of 225 E. Sixth St. and currently known as Hudson East.)

There are several photographic collages of the Commodore in the Emigrant lobby ...

As the Times reported in 1997:

A few groups rallied unsuccessfully to save the building for conversion to a recording studio or other performance use. Now, only the theater's Second Avenue entrance has been retained as part of a four-story commercial building that the Hudson Companies sold to Emigrant Savings Bank. A bank branch occupies the one-time theater lobby. The rest of the theater was razed to make way for the new apartment building.... A plaque will be placed at the building's entrance telling passers-by of the storied night spots that once occupied the site -- despite the fact ... that the people who will rent apartments here will probably be too young to remember them.

It's All the Streets You Crossed Not So Long Ago has a great post on the Village Theatre era here here.

Fillmore East photos via.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Remembering the Loew's Canal Theater

There has been plenty of press lately about the long-dormant Loew's Canal Theater on Canal Street at Ludlow. (Downtown Express had the story first; the Post had a follow-up piece yesterday.)

As Downtown Express noted:

The long-shuttered Loew’s Canal Theater in Chinatown could get a new life as a performing arts center.

The proposal to fix up and reopen the 83-year-old theater is far from a done deal, but the space’s owner agreed last week to do a feasibility study.

Designed by renowned theater architect Thomas Lamb, the 2,339-seat theater opened in 1926. Many of the original, ornate, terra-cotta details remain, although the seats were cleared out long ago when the theater was turned into a warehouse.

Here's a now-and-then look at the space.

If you're interested in more on this theater's history, you can visit Cinema Treasures, where, in the comments, you'll find links to these photos...

There's more about the theater here ... and here is a site with the original plans for the theater... and here are childhood memories of the theater from Knickerbocker Village.

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.... 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.

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.