Loew's Yorkville Theatre
157 E. 86th Street,
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Previously operated by: Loew's Inc., Shubert Brothers Theater Company
Previous Names: Yorkville Theatre
The Yorkville Theatre was built in 1902, and was operated by the Shubert Bros. It was operating as a vaudeville house known as the Yorkville Theatre when Marcus Loew took it over in 1910. It was typical of its time, with two separate balconies and tiers of box seats flanking both sides of the stage. It was one of Loew’s earliest New York City area theatres, along with the Lincoln Square, Majestic, West End, and Royal (Brooklyn), which were also acquisitions. Loew’s Yorkville Theatre proved so successful that three years later, the circuit built the much larger and more opulent Orpheum Theatre in the same block, but closer to 3rd Avenue. Loew’s continued to operate the Yorkville Theatre, but favored the Orpheum Theatre in programming.
Loew’s Yorkville Theatre switched to a cheaper grade of vaudville and subsequent-run movies. It was closed in 1928.
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Recent comments (view all 29 comments)
As far as I can tell, the Yorkville ran German operettas and legit shows after the Loews days, but not movies.
From the Google aerial and street views, it looks like the entire building is still standing; merely converted to retail. Upper floors look vacant. Maybe the upper part of the auditorium is unaltered??
Ruth Crosby Dimmick’s 1913 book Our Theatres To-day and Yesterday says that the Yorkville Theatre was built in 1902 and was operated by the Shuberts for a while until being taken over my Marcus Loew and reopened as a movie and variety theater on October 1, 1909.
Years ago in a book i found a admission ticket to the Yorkville Theatre dated feb 11 1922 , price for ticket was $1.10
I lived at 150 East 86th St. That is between Lexington and 3rd Avenue on the South side of the Street. The picture above was directly across the street from my window and was not the site of a movie theater at leat from the 1940’s onward. Just to the right of it (East) was an Automat Restaurant, then the Linden Bar and then Loew’s Orpheum theater. There were three movie theaters on the 86th Street block between Lexington and 3rd. To the East of my apartment house was the Grande Theater, an independent located at 160 East 86th St. Directly East of it was Loew’s 86th Street theater. It was not on the corner of 3rd Avenue. Directly across the street was the Loew’s Orpheum. It was larger and had vaudeville in its day. It received films after they left Broadway for the first run in the neighborhood. The Loew’s 86th Street played them a few weeks later. The Grande played films later still. There was also the RKO 86th St a bit West of Lexington on the North side. Finally there was the Schwarzer Adler theater East of 3rd Avenue on the South side. It played German language films and was quite inconspicuous as it had no marquee. Sorry for the length but I hope this clears up the apparent confusion about the location of the all the 86th Strete theaters at least in the forties and fifties. I lived on that block for 18 years directly across the street from the pictured building which is still there (2016) My apartment house is replaced by a giant hi-rise.
A fairly detailed history of the Yorkville Theatre can be found here It confirms TonyV’s claim that there was no theater in this building in the 1940s and later. The Yorkville closed for good in 1928.
Loew’s 86th Street, as Tony notes, was across from the Orpheum. Its address was 162 E. 86th, and a description of its organ, installed when Loew took over in 1916, can be found on this web page.
The Schwarzer Adler was the Grande. Was there a second Schwarzer Adler in the forties?
It’s sadly too late to have captured the street level facade, marquee etc., but a new website called 1940s New York has a nice shot of the Yorkville building shot sometime between 1939-41, and showing the stores that were there at the time. You can see it at the link below, after acknowledging their popover. (You’ll see a different, unrelated image until it’s acknowledged.)
While trying to find a TV filming location, I stumbled on an old article mentioning a new show in the Yorkville Theatre, published in the New York Clipper (20 Nov 1918), just a week or so after the end of World War I.
The text of the article, which includes some history of the theatre itself, follows:
YORKVILLE TO HAVE BLANEY STOCK CO.
OPENS NOV. 23 WITH “THE BRAT”
Charles and Harry Blaney have taken a lease on the Yorkville Theatre and will open it next Saturday with a matinee performance of “The Brat,” rehearsals of which are now progressing under the direction of Hal Briggs.
The company, which was engaged through the Paul Scott offices, has Frances McGrath as leading woman and Forrest Orr as leading man, both well known players. Miss McGrath will be remembered as leading woman of the Keith Stock Company in the Bronx a few years ago, when her work established her as a prime favorite with the Bronxites.
Other members of the company are Cecil Kern, Mabel Montgomery, Helen Chase, William Wagner, John O'Hara and John Ravold.
The Yorkville Theatre, located on Eighty-sixth Street, near Third Avenue, has during its career been given over to various forms of amusement. In its early days it was one of the week stand combination houses and played many good attractions. It was also the home of vaudeville. Later it was the home of burlesque and still later was given over to pictures. Before the United States entered the war it was conducted by Adolf Philipp, who presented plays with a German stock company. This season Manager Philipp opened it with the intention of producing a series of musical comedies from his own pen in English. He opened with a brand new play, but it found no favor, and after a very short season he closed.
The house is well located for a first class stock house, being of easy access from upper New York’s East Side population, and the fact that there is no dramatic stock company in that district augurs well for its success.
The Blaney’s [sic] intend to give their patrons none but the best of the recently released successes with an occasional production of a new play. Each will be made a special production, with special scenery by their own scenic artist. The prices will range from 25 cents to $1.00, and there will be three matinees a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.