detail-rko-keiths-theater-queens-nyc-untapped citiesImage via After The Final Curtain

Once upon a time, opulent theaters built for the masses and the elite alike were the main destinations for entertainment. The theaters showed more than movies – it would be an all-day entertainment extravaganza from live music, dance performances, vaudeville, comedy to films. As we wrote in a previous exploration of the Loews Wonder Theatres, the most grand of them all in the New York City area, “in an era before television and with radio just a novelty, Americans could spend upwards of five hours or more in these theaters.”

Many theaters in New York City and New Jersey began as live performance theaters, and when vaudeville was on the decline, conversion into movie theaters became a more profitable option. But maintaining these grand film palaces was expensive and proved difficult to keep operational.

We bring you now 10 movie theaters in the New York City area that have stood abandoned for decades, falling into disarray as they became nothing more than warehouse spaces and retail store fronts.


Jamaica Bay Flushing Canal-NYC That Never Was

This visual is a fascinating find from @Discovering_NYC – a plan to create a canal from a new port in Jamaica Bay to Flushing Bay which had been in the works since at least 1910, when it was presented to the Barge Terminal Canal Commission at an estimated cost of $12 million. A bill for its construction failed to pass the New York State legislature in 1912 but in 1914 the state included the latest in its Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor on the Canals of the State of New York showing a cost between $12.6 million and $21 million.


woodhaven post office wpa muralWoodhaven Post Office. Photo via Queens Brownstoner

New York City has more than its share of art. Works of art can be found throughout the city, in museums, galleries, and even scattered across its parks. However, an often overlooked venue for art in New York City are post offices. During the Great Depression, federal agencies including the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture, often confused and conflated with the WPA, hired painters and sculptors to “secure suitable art of the best quality available for the embellishment of public buildings.”

Between 1934 and 1943, the Section, as it was known, commissioned works of art for more than 1,100 post offices across the United States. While some of the murals and sculptures have been lost or destroyed, most of the ones created for New York City post offices can still be viewed in situ. With the USPS closing and selling off a large percentage of its post offices, highlighting these works of art commissioned for the public is more important than ever.


2-The Kissena Velodrome In Flushing, NYC- New York's Only Remaining Cycling Track_1964_Untapped Cities_NYC_Stepanie GeierPeter Senia Jr. wins the Junior 5-mile at the 1964 national championships at the Kissena Velodrome. Image via bikecult

New York City is home to many obscure places and things, such as secret tunnels and an abandoned smallpox hospital. Now, here’s another interesting thing to add to the list: the Kissena Velodrome, New York’s only remaining cycling track, in Flushing.


2-Micro Neighborhoods_Flushing_Main Street_NYC_Untapped Cities_Stephanie GeierDowntown Flushing is home to many Chinese and Korean businesses

Though many know Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown for its dense Chinese population, Flushing, Queens has a nearly equal Chinese presence. About 70% of its population is Asian, making it a thriving ethnic micro neighborhood. In fact, according to a Daily News article citing the 2010 census, Flushing’s own Chinese population has overtaken that of Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown.


Columbia_University_Butler_Library_from_front-NYC Oldest Schools-Untapped Cities-Stephanie GeierThe Butler Library at Columbia University, which is one of New York City’s oldest operating schools. Image via Wikimedia Commons

When you think of New York City’s rich cultural history, educational institutions may not be among the first words that come to mind. But many of New York City schools have roots from hundreds of years ago and were an important part of the city’s development. In fact, quite a few of these New York City schools were important milestones in the nation’s educational history, with some even earning superlative spots among America’s finest institutions.