74 handprint of joan crawford outside of theater 80Handprints of actress Joan Crawford outside Theater 80 in the East Village

Did you know NYC has its own version of LA’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (albeit on a smaller scale)? In the early 1970s, Florence and Howard Otway purchased a theater on St. Marks Place and converted it into a revival movie theater, showing classic films as well as plays. The Otways invited some of their Hollywood friends and film stars to leave their mark on the pavement outside of Theater 80 (named for its address–80 St. Marks Place). 

Most of the cement imprints have weathered fairly well. However, a porter who drank too much fell and smeared several squares before the cement had dried and street workers damaged others. After Otway’s death, the New York City Department of Transportation threatened to pave over the cement blocks, alleging that they posed a threat to pedestrians. Paramount Studios offered to ship them to Hollywood, but Florence Otway declined. New Yorkers persuaded the DOT to relent and the prints remain a quirky find on St. Marks Place.

Theater 80 also houses the Museum of the American Gangster, one of our favorite quirky museums, once a real speakeasy.

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