November 19, 2013

The "Wonders" Of Old Movie Palaces In Queens And Brooklyn

One of my favorite movie-related blogs, Scouting NY, has an incredible post up this week about the old Paramount movie palace in downtown Brooklyn that was converted to a student center for Long Island University. Though the school turned the main auditorium space into a basketball court/gym, they also retained a great deal of the decorative features of the grand lobby and the ornate lounges. There are some remarkable before/after photos on the post which compare the grand luxury of the Paramount back in the day, to its more low-key quirkiness today. But some of the details, like etched mirrors and face casts on the ceiling, are very cool to see....mainly for the fact they are still there!

In a previous post this year, ScoutingNY took a Sunday afternoon tour of another repurposed movie palace on Jamaica Avenue in Queens. It was actually one of the five Loew's Wonder theaters in NY/NJ, all of which have remarkably survived. I have been to the one in Jersey City across from the PATH train which was pretty impressive. But this one takes the ornate-cake. It's Spanish-Moorish theming is totally over the top and has been completely preserved as it was when the theatre was in its heydey. The reason is that it was donated to a church group which regularly has services in the auditorium which holds 3,000-plus people. The photos are really incredible and reminded me of the Tampa Theatre in Florida (where I screened WTC VIEW and POOL DAYS) which has the same faux-Spanish village open-to-the-sky feeling inside. 

I can only imagine what it must have been like to see films in such a luxurious setting. Maybe even bad movies would have seemed good!  :)  Regardless, it would certainly have been an improvement over today's generic stadium-seating boxes.