A few weekends back I went to go see the classic horror film Carrie at the Loew's Jersey Wonder Theatre, a beautiful vintage movie theater in Jersey City. As I settled into my plush velvet chair, I overheard a middle-aged man boast of seeing Carrie when it came out in 1976 at the exact same theater. While nearly 40 years later the movie’s special effects appear dated and not scary, the 1920s splendor of the theater itself is stunning (did I mention the retro-priced $6 ticket too?).
There are four other Loew's Wonder Theatres in the New York metropolitan area that were built between 1929 and 1930. While the Loew’s Kings in Brooklyn remains abandoned, the others have all been restored to their Jazz Age opulence and are now used as movie houses, concert venues, or churches as described below.
Jersey Theatre—Jersey City, NJ (movie theater/concert venue)
Though the theatre closed in 1986, it re-opened in 2002 as a venue for classic films and live concerts. It also has one of the few remaining Morton Wonder Organs that used to accompany silent films at such theaters.
Upcoming Classic Films:
Jan 29 - Jan 30, 2010—Movies from the 1930s including Gold Diggers of 1933 and Top Hat starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
Feb 26 - Feb 27, 2010—Movies from the 1940s including Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious and The Third Man with Orson Welles.
Valencia Theatre—Jamaica, Queens, NY (church)
It closed as a movie theater in 1977, and has since served as the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People church.
Paradise Theater—Bronx, NY (concert/events venue)
The Paradise Theatre closed in 1994, and re-opened in 2005 as a live concert and special events venue.
175th Street Theatre—Manhattan, NY (church/concert venue)
Currently home to Reverend Ike's Christ United Church, the only Wonder Theatre in Manhattan is also known as the United Palace Theatre when booked for live rock concerts.
Jan 17—Vampire Weekend
Loew’s Kings—Brooklyn, NY (abandoned)
Located in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood, the Loew’s Kings has been subjected to years of deterioration and abuse by vandals since it shut its doors in 1977. There are currently no plans to re-open it, although many support the cause.