5. Lincoln Plaza Cinemas
The privately owned public space behind the arcade that contained the entrance to Lincoln Plaza Theater
The Lincoln Plaza Theater, formerly located on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd streets was a neighborhood staple since 1981. With six screens, it was also known for playing art house films and had a particular caché as one of four theaters that were run by husband and wife team, Daniel and Toby Talbot who were well-known in the film industry. The New York Times notes that Martin Scorsese penned the forward to Toby Talbot’s memoir The New Yorker Theater and Other Scenes from a Life at the Movies. The movie theater itself and its offerings are said to have influenced Susan Sontag and Woody Allen, and was a kind of gatekeeper and launching pad for new films. Like The Paris theater, Lincoln Plaza often showed foreign and independent films first, often with an exclusive run.
The theater closed in early 2018, after the building’s owner did not renew the lease. Since then, it has sat empty. But you can still walk under the marquee and see the escalators that once took movie goers to the underground theaters, after they bought their tickets on the booths facing the street. The theaters were small but there would always be a buzz of excitement on the lines for each movie, as the theater would have everyone queue up until it was time to enter. While on line, you’d send your family member, date, or friend to grab some popcorn and snacks.