Recently, Untapped Cities Insiders were treated to a very special tour of the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theater, located at Journal Square in Jersey City. The tour was led by Colin Egan, executive director and one of the founding members of Friend of the Loew’s, the group that saved the theater from demolition. Knowing that our members are interested in architectural secrets and off-limits places, Egan and his team spent the tour allowing us to access some very unique spots in the theater and sharing about the labor of love that has enabled the theater to be reopened. What’s incredible is that the restoration of the Loew’s Jersey is still ongoing, powered completely by volunteers.
Join Untapped Cities Insiders to join future events like this to New York City’s most off-limits places!
Here are 10 secrets of the theater that we learned on our visit!
10. The Loew’s Jersey Theatre is one of 5 Loew’s Wonder Theaters in the NYC Area
In the 1920s, Loew’s built five “Wonder” theaters in the New York City area. These were grand movie palaces, designed with inspiration from Europe’s opera houses and noble palaces. The goal was to enable Americans to escape the humdrum of daily life, immersing themselves for hours on end taking in vaudeville theater and the movies.
The Loew’s Jersey opened on September 28, 1929, one month before the stock market crash. The land for the theater was acquired from Paramount studio and the theater was built at a cost of $2 million. The theater was designed by Rapp & Rapp, the architects of the Paramount in Times Square and the Brooklyn Paramount theater, now home to Long Island University’s basketball court.
Egan tells us that despite the Great Depression, the Loew’s theater chain did not suffer as deeply as other theaters because it had “the most valuable catalog.” Loew’s lost money only one year during the Depression, an impressive feat compared to its competitors.