valencia theater, one of the Loews Wonder Theaters
Photo by James and Karla Murray

In an era before television and with radio just a novelty, Americans could spend upwards of five hours or more in inside a movie theater and the most exciting ones were the Loew’s Wonder Theatres, veritable palaces of entertainment. Audience spent their time inside listening to a live orchestra oveture, watching vaudeville acts, and finally the film. One of the fun facts gleaned from an episode of the Office of NYCMedia‘s Blueprint series is 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 Tour
Photo 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.