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I recently discovered the wonderful site Cinema Treasures. Celebrating not films but the places showing them, Cinema Treasures digs, documents and shares all the information they can find about classic movie theaters across America.

Plugging my zip code into their search feature, I was surprised to find this gem right near my subway stop:

picture from Cinema Treasures

Unfortunately this theater is past tense – long since demolished, here’s what currently occupies the space:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.55.19 PM

An empty lot! A fenced-in, weed-choked, garbage-filled empty lot. While any hint of green space in the neighborhood is appreciated, it’s depressing this wonderful building was razed with nothing replacing it in the 10+ years since its destruction. At best one hopes it became such a fire hazard it had to be torn down with no plans for the space, instead of imagining some developer sitting on this plot greedily anticipating the day the neighborhood perks up to the point they can build more glass fishbowls to shove upper-class Manhattan expats into (see: Williamsburg).

But there is yet hope! To my utter surprise and delight, all five of the original Lowe’s ‘Wonder Theaters‘ still stand! The Wonder Theaters were flagship Lowe’s outposts built outside main Manhattan, with the specific idea of bringing the glamour and luxury of city moviegoing to the outer boros.

courtesy of Wikipedia
(the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights)

courtesy of Wikipedia
(the Valencia Theater in Queens)

Two live on as churches – the United Palace Theater is now Christ Community United Church, who also use the space to host concerts and events for the surrounding community. The Valencia is more exclusively Tabernacle of Prayer church, but they’ve done an amazing job preserving the beautiful, byzantine interior (really, click on and check out the photos – it’s absolutely stunning).

courtesy of Wikipedia (the Kings Theater in Brooklyn)

The Kings Theater in Brooklyn got a recent reprieve – the building is currently under construction to restore it to its former glory (you can see its current deteriorated condition here).

courtesy of Wikipedia
(the Paradise Theater in the Bronx)

courtesy of Wikipedia
(Jersey Lowe’s in Journal Square)

Bronx’s Paradise theater still shows movies and hosts concerts and other arts-related events, as does Jersey City’s Lowe’s Theater. The Jersey Lowe’s can even be rented out for weddings (one of the rental perks being you and your betrothed’s names on the marquee. Cute).

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They don’t make ‘em like they used to.


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Of late the weather’s been so nice visiting a park seemed mandatory. Ah, an escape from the drudgery of cement.

Passive Recreation Only

I just ended up sitting quietly with my hands in my lap. Though, I did learn about nature in the main building:

Scats of North American Wildlife

Yes, that is a man riding a motorcycle around a basketball court.

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I’m not sure what’s my favorite- the part where the punks are slam dancing in the middle of a New York street (before getting slammed into by an evil hovercraft), or when the rich jerks’ car gets sucked under (by an evil hovercraft). You know what, it’s actually where the golfer’s security guard gets thrown forward right into a tree (by an evil hovercraft. Hovercraft.)

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Imperial Beef

at the laundromat, my heart grows fat

Sisters of Mercy

How does wearing a tux and bowtie induce women to trust you with their lady parts for examination? Ew.

Libreria Christiana

Ahh, the irony of believing your own hype.

Women's Meeting- Men ok

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