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:
J Ralph’s studio and stage. Image via Vanity Fair
At 80 Clinton Street, producer J Ralph has an iron and velvet-clad recording studio tucked in an apartment building. In what was then the Galician quarter of the Lower East Side, the studio is in what used to be the Clinton Star Theatre, a vaudeville house built by Sam Agid in 1914. It has been reported that the theatre sat 1,800 people: 797 on the first floor, 283 in the balcony, and 182 in boxes. The theatre showed movies and Yiddish theatre until it closed in 1950.
Some of the best comedy in this city can be found in back of a McDonald’s on 8th Avenue and West 26th Street. The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater, or “UCB,” started small, taking over a small strip club, and is now known as one of the finest improv theaters, with shows every night of the week featuring some of the funniest and most talented comic performers in the city. (more…)
Image via NYCAGO
It’s quite possibly the fanciest basketball court we’ve ever seen. The ceiling of Long Island University’s Brooklyn’s Athletic Center reveals its beginnings as the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. The sky blue and white latticed ceiling and the arches along the side walls, decorated with artificial foliage, still remain at the top of what is now the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Athletic Center, which was the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre in the mid 1900s.
Image via Theater Corona
Back in the 1930s, Montreal’s cultural scene was very lively. Cabarets, movie houses and vaudeville theaters abounded and the nightlife was so renowned that people boarded trains every weekend from nearby provinces and states in order to join in on the fun. As the years passed, many of these beautiful venues closed down and they were either destroyed or they changed purposes. A few of these places have remained open and are being actively restored by owners who want to keep these architectural gems a part of Montreal’s past and present. Here are 5 beautiful Montreal cultural venues that will take you back to the 1930s.
Newsboy played by Daniel Burns. Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel
Artist Cynthia Von Buhler’s latest endeavor might be the closest you can get to time travel. Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth, an interactive play exploring the Booth brothers’ sibling rivalry, will whisk you back to 1919—when Prohibition drove the parties underground but certainly didn’t stop them.
Von Buhler has explored this theme in the first iteration of the Speakeasy Dollhouse: the Bloody Beginning, which was inspired by the true story of her grandfather’s murder. This time, she has taken a quintessentially New York story and brought it to life in one of the City’s most coveted private Gilded Age clubs, the Players Club on Gramercy Park. (more…)