6. Loew’s Canal Theater

loews canal theatre-canal street-nyc-untapped citiesImage via After The Final Curtain

The Loew’s Canal Theatre at 31 Canal Street was built in 1927 and has been closed since the 1950s. When it opened, it was the second largest theater in New York City with 2,314 seats. Loew’s sold it to Greater M&S Circuit, but it didn’t survive long as it went bankrupt in 1929, and was bought back by Loew’s the same year. The Canal was designed by Thomas Lamb, who did many of the forgotten theaters of Upper Broadway, and showed mostly “B” movies and serials.

On September 10, 1932, both the Canal and the 46th St Theatres were rocked by explosions set off by bombs. The attack was believed to be connected to the Motion Pictures Operators’ Union Local 306 who were on strike at the time. The theater recovered with minimal damage, but after closing in the 1950s, the lobby was converted into a retail space with the auditorium as warehouse space

The Canal Theatre has been abandoned since the early 2000s, as the last tenant was a small appliance store and repair shop. Despite some fundraising movements to revitalize the space, nothing has come to fruition and the auditorium continues to be a warehouse. The terra cotta facade was landmarked by the Landmarks reservation Commission in 2010.

In February 2015, a group of graffiti artists broke into the abandoned theatre not to deface it, but to decorate it and “restore its former glory.” Artists 2ESASE of art collective UR New York and artists SKI created Art-Deco inspired posters that featured figures from the 1920s, and hung them throughout the building serving as a little reminder of what it was like in its heyday.