Belle Harbor Twin

150 Beach 116th Street,
Rockaway Park, NY 11694

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Keith-Albee, Playhouse Operating Co., RKO

Previous Names: Park Theatre

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Located on the east side of Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park, Long Island. This theatre was located just off the Boardwalk fronting the Atlantic Ocean.

It seated 942, divided between the orchestra and a 250 seat elevated section at the rear. The inner lobby featured a staircase to the non-existent balcony. The elevated rear section was gained from the orchestra.

It operated from about 1922 when it also had a roof garden theatre. It was a Keith-Albee Theatre by early 1930 and from late-1930 had become an RKO house who operated it into the early to mid-1940’s. By 1947 Movietone News had replaced RKO Pathe News. In 1947 the inner lobby was redone in red plush and the new “sliding seat” was installed so patrons could shift rearwood to allow someone to pass without standing up from their seat.

There was a portable box office used under the marquee in summertime and after the season the box office in the south wall of the entrance lobby was used.

It was later twinned and was renamed Belle Harbor Twin and closed in 1961. The theatre stands vacant & unused in 2018.

Contributed by J.F. Lundy

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

FormerNYCJim on March 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

As a kid, I spent my summers in Rockaway, with my family renting a series of bungalows on 107th St, until everything up to 108th Street was torn down for Robert Moses' urban renewal/destruction. I remember going to see The Wizard of Oz at the Park Theater with my grandmother…..but remember climbing up a series of steps outside to an upper theater, that was rarely used, and the seats weren’t cushioned.this was in 1955. Anyone else have a recollection of this? Could this have been just a staircase to the little used balcony?

thedawnedition on October 22, 2013 at 10:20 am

Does anyone know who owns this gem? I love the history, and would love to invest in restoring something for the community here.

RobertEndres on October 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm

There’s a comment by rjcambell in 2006 that clarifies this discussion. The second screen was a roof top theatre. When I first came to New York I went to a lot of the $1.00 sub-run houses and ths was one. A friend of mine who was head of service for RKO theatres and then an independent contractor told me that this house “bicycled” the print when the roof top theatre was open, pulling the reels from the lower booth to the upper booth with a rope. He also mentioned a time when the two operators didn’t get along and one of them deliberately waited until the last minute to lower or raise the reels to the other booth. I came here in 1974, so never got to attend a screening in the upper theatre, but thought it looked pretty neat with the big windows that caught the air off the ocean for cooling. While someone on this site does mention an outside staircase, I would think the inner staircase at one point did lead to the roof theatre.

robboehm on February 6, 2014 at 8:39 am

In the pre air conditioning days the Park screened films in it’s roof garden per references in the Rockaway Beach Wave.

robboehm on March 26, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Photos as both Park and Belle Harbor added.

TJHinNYC on August 17, 2015 at 10:05 am

I remember spending the day at the beach and then catching the great film “Hud” (which opened in May 1963) at The Park.

robboehm on April 15, 2019 at 8:38 am

Texas2step uploaded the ad you posted on Century’s Floral indicating the Park, together with the Floral, Bellerose, Hollis and Bellaire were part of the Playco circuit. Never heard of them. However, you indicated the ad was from January 12, 1933 which would be after the time of the RKO ads you have on this site. ?????

robboehm on June 8, 2019 at 7:47 pm

Saw an ad for the Park in 1928. Most of the Playco Theaters in the ad I uploaded opened in the period 1926-1927.

tkmonaghan on October 1, 2021 at 11:51 pm

I seem to recall this location operated as a beer distributor in the late 1980s or early 1990s but can’t recall exactly.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on January 24, 2022 at 1:37 pm

This might have a partial history for presenting “legit” plays during the summer months. Newspaper ad from July 1948 posted in the photos section.

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