7. RKO Keith’s Theatre

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

Originally called the Keith-Albee Theatre, the RKO Keith’s Theatre opened on December 25, 1928 at 1:00 pm in Flushing, Queens. The 2,974-seat theater was designed by Thomas W. Lamb in the Spanish Baroque Revival style. Lamb was a notable theater architect who designed others around the city like the Ziegfeld and United Palace Theatres. Similar to the Loew’s 46th St. Theatre, the Keith had a ceiling painted with the atmospheric effect as a clouded, night sky. The first film it showed was a silent film starring Clara Bow, a star of the Roaring Twenties.

The Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation that owned the theater was acquired by the Radio Corporation of America in 1929 to become RKO Pictures. Thus, the Keith-Albee was renamed RKO Keith’s Theatre. In 1980, Keith’s lobby was landmarked in 1984, and in 1986 was sold to a developer who closed it down only a few months later for demolition.

The Flushing community was outraged that such a historic building would be torn down only to become a strip mall. Ultimately, the community prevailed and stopped the demolition in February 1987. Since then however, the Keith’s been in a state of complete disrepair. The active Facebook group, Save the Flushing RKO Keith Theater has nearly 1900 members.