RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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RKO Keith's Theatre

Once one of the most celebrated movie palaces of New York City, the RKO Keith’s Theatre in the Flushing section of Queens, is only a ghost of its former self.

Opened as the Keith-Albee Theatre on December 25, 1928 with Clara Bow in “Three Week Ends” on the screen and Keith-Albee vaudeville on stage. It was closed on March 15, 1975 for conversion into a triple-screen theatre. It reopened with one screen operating on February 11, 1976 and opened with three-screens on April 7, 1976. One of the screens was showing Robert De Nero in “Taxi Driver”. Legend has it, in 1986, after almost sixty years of showing movies, the theatre was closed on September 4, 1986 and sold. Soon after, its owner attempted to demolish it before a hearing could be held to decide its fate.

Having already damaged its famous façade and with work commencing to gut the theatre, the demolition was halted by the city. The owner soon forfeited the property, and the damaged and stripped RKO Keith’s Theatre has sat and waited for its final demolition for almost 30 years.

Several plans have come and gone to convert the building into apartments, but it sits to this day.

Contributed by Ross Melnick, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 1,328 comments)

WilliamMcQuade on October 21, 2021 at 9:26 pm

See it has apparently happened.Sort of anti climatic now. A sad chapter in NYC history has closed. Demolition of classic buildings in the city started with the Roxy in 1960.It ramped up in mid 1960’s with the demolition of the NY Paramount. Now all picture palaces in NYC now gone. The outer boroughs have kept pace in destruction .Thank God I was in most of them before they were pounded to dust in the name of progress.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 22, 2021 at 12:25 am

Well, sad as it is - and it is extraordinarily sad for us who so loved these great palaces - the fact is that not ALL is entirely lost. Thanks to repurposing as churches and live venues, there are still many such buildings to enjoy in NYC and it’s surroundings. All 5 of the Loews Wonder Theatres are still extant and open to the public - and one was actually still exhibiting films before the pandemic. In addition to the Loews Jersey, the RKO Stanley is still intact across Journal Square. That’s not to mention the theatres on 42nd Street that are still with us, or the Hollywood/Mark Hellinger, and Beacon.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on October 22, 2021 at 12:51 am

Ed, you’re a cockeyed optimist

WilliamMcQuade on October 22, 2021 at 1:20 am

Ed. Loews Wonder Theaters. Paradise Bx Currently closed 175th St NYC Now a church Jersey Operates part time showing classic movies Queens Valencia Now a church ..Open for services Brooklyn Kings. Currently closed Open sporadically for live shows. Stanley Jersey City Jehovah’s Witnesses temple. Open for services 42nd St theaters not picture palaces .Neither are legit theaters Beacon Open for live shows and Hellinger now a church .A far cry from what we once had

JeffM55 on October 22, 2021 at 1:44 am

Gentlemen, gentlemen… no use beating a dead horse. Or a bunch of dead theaters.

WilliamMcQuade on October 22, 2021 at 1:50 am

Jeff. For 3 months nothing said Now we restart a conversation and we are beating a dead horse.If Ed wants to continue fine.I am out of here. May be awhile before I return .Best wishes to all.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 22, 2021 at 4:28 am

Forgive me for trying to shine a tiny sliver of light on a bleak subject matter. The 42nd St theaters may not have been the opulent palaces that Loews, Fox, and RKO gave us, but the Beacon is magnificent, as is the former Hollywood. And my only point was that several of these remarkable buildings (yes, including all 5 Wonder Theaters) are still standing, and have benefited from the care of those who currently occupy them. No one here would rather see the Keith’s still standing in all its splendor as a church than see it pounded into rocks and dust? Optimist? Maybe… though I’m not optimistic that any of these buildings will ever be put back to their intended use. Cockeyed? Oh, well, yes… without a doubt!

JeffM55 on October 22, 2021 at 6:40 am

Hey, I’m still hoping they’ll reconstruct the original Penn Station.

WilliamMcQuade on April 27, 2022 at 11:27 pm

Do not hold your breath waiting for the landmarked portion of the theater being reassembled as promised. Would not surprise me if it is now in pieces in a landfill. Politicians do no care.They never had and never will.I no longer get involved with anything involving NY or federal government A pox on them all

michaelkaplan on July 25, 2022 at 6:01 am

The last movie I saw there was Hitchcock’s “Marnie” in 1964. As I recall, the theater was mostly empty. I kept staring up at the ceiling to watch the twinkling stars. The Keith’s in Huntington WV is its twin, and has been fully restored, including the organ.

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