Inside Video Look at the 5 NYC Loews Wonder Theatres: Kings Theatre, Valencia, United Palace, Paradise, Jersey

With the flurry of video content out there, it’s important not to forget what the Office of NYCMedia is doing. Specifically relevant to us is the Blueprint series, which provides inside looks into some of the city’s most interesting buildings. A recent episode on the Loew’s Wonder Theatres takes us into the heyday of these veritable palaces of entertainment.

In an era before television and with radio just a novelty, Americans could spend upwards of five hours or more in these theaters, listening to a live orchestra oveture, watching vaudeville acts, and finally the film. One of the fun facts gleaned from this episode as that historian and author Anthony W. Robins is actually the grandson of Chicago movie pioneer, A.J. Balaban. Here are the five New York City Loew’s Wonder theaters covered in the above episode:

5.  Loew’s Kings Theatre, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Kings Theatre-Loews-NYCEDC Restoration-Untapped Cities Behind the Scenes NYC TourPhoto by Matt Lambros/After the Final Curtain

Newly restored by the NYCEDC and renamed the Brooklyn King’s Theatre, the Loew’s Kings Theatre was another of the five “Wonder Theaters” opened in the early 20th century. As one of the classic ‘movie palaces,’ it operated from 1929 to 1977. It reopened, completely renovated, in February of 2015 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. When it first opened, it showed a mixture of feature films and live vaudeville performances. On its opening night, Kings Theatre showed the silent film Evangelinewith a special appearance by the film’s star, Delores Del Rio. Almost 90 years later, Diana Ross appeared at the theater’s reopening earlier this year.

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One Response
  1. Wow – I’ve never been a fun fact before – thank you! But I’ve always been interested in movie palaces, in part certainly because of the family connection, but also because they’re just so over-the-top wonderful. I wrote the Landmarks Commission designation reports on both the Valencia and the Paradise. Here are the links: Valencia – http://s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/lp/2036.pdf; Paradise exterior: http://s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/lp/1891.pdf; there’s also a report on the interior: http://s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/lp/2193.pdf Anybody interested in these theaters should think about joining the Theatre Historical Society, founded by Ben Hall (author of “The Best Remaining Seats” about the great palaces) back in the 1960s; the current president, architect Craig Morrison, is interviewed in the documentary. THS has an archive, a journal, and a great web site: http://www.historictheatres.org

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