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Thread: Loew's Paradise Theater in the Bronx

  1. #1

    Default Loew's Paradise Theater in the Bronx

    August 3, 2003

    For an Opulent Movie Palace, New Hope for a Revival

    By SETH KUGEL


    The exterior of Loew's Paradise, a historic movie theater that is being offered for rent.


    Behind the facade of the theater on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx lurk touches of décor intended to evoke an Italian Baroque garden.

    In the $150 Back in the Bronx Chess Set touted on the Back in the Bronx Web site, the brass pieces represent borough icons: the king, predictably, is Yankee Stadium. The bishop is the Botanical Gardens, the knight is the Bronx Zoo, the rook is the Kingsbridge Armory.

    The queen, the most powerful player, represents Loew's Paradise, the storied 4,000-seat theater that was once the borough's gem but was split into multiple screens amid controversy in 1973 and closed in 1994. A much-publicized multimillion-dollar attempt to restore the theater and reopen it as an entertainment venue collapsed in 2000. But a few months ago, a new developer took over the property, hung a bright yellow "For Rent" banner, and once again gave hope to passers-by and old friends of Loew's that the theater will be revived in one form or another.

    If the new developer succeeds, it will have been a long and tumultuous interregnum.

    The Paradise was the venue where generations of Bronxites chose between watching first-run films and a first kiss in the balcony. Opened in 1929, it was one of the "atmospheric" cinemas created by the designer John Eberson, meant to transport Bronx residents into a Baroque Italian garden, adorned with marble pillars, statues, tapestries, even a goldfish pool and a night sky with twinkling stars and moving clouds. Nor was Loew's just for films: stars like Bob Hope and George Burns performed on its stage, and countless Bronx high school and college students received their diplomas there.

    The new owner of the property is an entity called First Paradise Theaters Corporation, a company whose president is Gerald Lieblich, a 42-year-old developer with offices in Manhattan who built the restaurant Beppe on East 22nd Street. The corporation paid $4.5 million for the space in a deal made two years ago, but took possession only in May.

    Legal wranglings were the source of the holdup. The previous owner, ABI Property Partners, was fighting Richard DeCesare, a Westchester developer who had poured millions of dollars into restoring the theater after signing a 10-year lease for the place in April 1999. Mr. DeCesare said he underestimated the cost of the renovation, noting, in an interview a few days ago, that he spent $1 million just gilding the ornamental elements in the lobby. Court records show that he defaulted on the rent, and he ended up in litigation over his option to buy. A state appeals court six weeks ago denied his appeal to be allowed to buy the property.

    But despite his financial difficulties, Mr. DeCesare accomplished a tremendous amount. He hired Lawless & Mangione, a Yonkers architectural and engineering firm, to run the project, and Higgins & Quasebarth, the Manhattan historic preservation consultants, to oversee the historical accuracy and work with the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. The theater's exterior is landmarked, and the interior has been under consideration for landmark status for years.

    Workers removed the partitions that had divided the theater into separate cinemas and restored most of the plasterwork, using historic photographs. Replicas of Greek statues and figures that could not be restored were recast and the opulent detailing returned to moldings, ceilings and fixtures. Nearly 4,000 cast-iron seats covered with red velour were produced by Irwin Seating, a Michigan company. (The project collapsed before they were delivered.) The hauntingly realistic midnight blue sky was painted on the ceiling, although workers never got to carry out plans to replace the old-time light bulbs with flickering stars created with fiber-optic technology.

    Bruno Pietrosanti, a partner in the architectural firm that oversaw the work, speculates that costs may have overwhelmed business considerations. "We outlined what the costs would be, and he ignored it," Mr. Pietrosanti said. The original plan, to rent the ground-floor retail space and use the proceeds to help pay for the renovation, never worked out. "Somehow or other he got so enamored with the beauty of the original theater design,'' he said, "that he started backwards."

    The new owners have taken a more cautious tack.

    "When I have a tenant in hand,'' Mr. Lieblich said the other day, during a tour of the darkened theater from which gleamingly restored details - cherubs, chandeliers, murals - loom eerily from the shadows, "that's when I'll move forward with the restoration." Beyond hanging the "For Rent'' banner, they have not formally advertised the theater's availability, preferring to spread the word more quietly.

    Acknowledging the historical value of the site, Mr. Lieblich said his first choice would be to reopen it as an entertainment venue, though not as a single-screen movie theater; people don't see movies in 4,000-seat theaters these days. Mr. Lieblich mentioned concerts, live shows, plays, dancing and comedy as some possible uses. And he is promising not to touch anything of historical value. "We're treating it like it's a piece of gold,'' he said. "It's gorgeous, irreplaceable."

    Still, Mr. Lieblich did not reject the possibility that the theater might be used for big-box retail space, a move that would require covering, though not destroying, much of the interior décor.

    Mr. DeCesare questioned the approach of the new owners. "Their agenda is to make it a profitable piece of real estate,'' he said, "without any regard for the historical character of the building.''

    Such a move would undoubtedly unsettle the legions of Bronx residents who remember the old days. Martin A. Jackson, a co-author of "The Bronx: Lost, Found and Remembered, 1935-1975'' (Back in the Bronx, 1999), counts himself among those who saw films like "The Ten Commandments'' there in the 50's and 60's. "The Paradise was the big date destination," Mr. Jackson recalled. "You looked up, and it really did look like the outdoors. It was the kind of thing that overwhelmed a middle-class person in those years."

    The memories of those who attended the Paradise in its last years are far less positive. "By the time I got here, it was falling apart," said Loretta Weeks, a 37-year-old nurse's aide who moved to Fordham in 1986 and saw one movie there. "It was really dirty. Horrible. I never went back."

    BUT regardless of their memories of the place, people are curious. Fred Martinez, the security guard who has been watching the entrance for the past three years, says he gets dozens of inquiries a day from passers-by. Entrance is theoretically forbidden, but Mr. Martinez, who used to attend movies there himself when he was growing up in the Bronx, has been known to let people in if their tales ring true. He even gave a guided tour to a Florida couple in their 60's who came to show the place they met to their grown son.

    Other sneak in. On Wednesday, two utility employees who were working nearby slipped into the building during a break. They had heard from co-workers that the once-great cinema was torn up inside, and they were astonished by what they saw.

    "I don't have words to explain it," one of the workers said after emerging onto the Grand Concourse. "The balcony is breathtaking. I'm actually upset that I'm back in the street."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
    Last edited by Kris; October 22nd, 2005 at 11:11 AM.

  2. #2

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    February 29, 2004

    CITY LORE

    Hollywood Royalty May Rule at the Oscars, but Marcus Loew Created the Movie Palace

    By TOM VANDERBILT


    A church in Jamaica, Queens that was once the Loews Valencia. Loews, which turns 100 this year, still has 110 screens in the city, including 15 on 42nd Street.

    AS moviegoers settle into the seats of the Loews 42nd Street E-Walk or the Loews Bay Terrace in Bayside, Queens - perhaps to watch one of tonight's Oscar winners - they will hear the familiar refrain "Thank you for coming to Loews."

    But few of them will probably know they owe their experience to a Lower East Side son of immigrant parents who a century ago got his big idea from the decidedly uncosmopolitan center of Covington, Ky.

    "Marcus Loew has vanished a bit from our popular memory," said Ross Melnick, a Los Angeles film preservationist and historian who was hired by what is today Loews Cineplex Entertainment to research the history of the company, which turns 100 this year.

    Loews, which has long been linked to New York and which even today boasts more screens there - about 110 - than any other chain, has gone through many incarnations. It has traveled from its vaudevillian roots, to its founding of the film company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924, to its takeover by Laurence A. and Preston Robert Tisch in 1954, to its current ownership by Onex Corporation, a Canadian company.

    But its origins lie outside McGlory's Cafe, at Hester Street and the Bowery, where in 1876 Marcus Loew began his working life at age 6, selling newspapers. "His father was a waiter," Mr. Melnick said. "He didn't make a lot of money, and he gave a lot of it away."

    Young Marcus, however, displayed entrepreneurial acumen, and by his early teens he was no longer selling newspapers but printing them, as co-owner of a small paper called The East Side Advertiser. From there he went into the fur business. When a venture went sour at age 17, rather than forgo the debts, as was his right as a juvenile, he decided to pay them all off.

    As Neal Gabler recounts in his book, "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood" (Crown, 1988), Loew credited his poverty for his success. "It's an advantage to be poor in one sense," he is quoted as saying. "That's why so many successes came from the East Side. The ones with talent for better things have every incentive there to exercise them."

    By 1903 Loew had invested in the Automatic Vaudeville business, in Union Square, run by Adolph Zukor, later the founder of Paramount Pictures. In cacophonous, gutted-out storefronts, customers could view 10 seconds of film - a man juggling, or something more licentious - in penny arcade mutascopes. The arcades, Variety noted, had a "faintly malodorous reputation," but the vitality impressed Loew.

    "Fourteenth Street at that time is on the edge of a burgeoning immigrant population," Mr. Melnick said. "The fur shops are around the corner. Loew finds himself constantly going over to Automatic Vaudeville." A year later, with the actor David Warfield, Loew had his own penny arcade emporium, People's Vaudeville, at 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue. Others followed.

    If Loew was intrigued by these arcades, he was absolutely captivated by an operation he stumbled upon in Covington, across the river from Cincinnati. There he found a house that an enterprising painter had turned into a movie theater; the man was ticket seller, projectionist and, as Loew reportedly noted, "he'd even deliver lectures on the pictures."

    "We were surprised to see people literally fight to get inside the place," Loew said. In response, Loew borrowed some chairs from an undertaker and installed them in an arcade he had opened in Cincinnati. He charged five cents for a three-minute show - and saw an opening-day crowd of 4,993.

    "The first day, the place is sold out," Mr. Melnick said. "The proof of concept is right in front of him." Loew took the "nickelodeon" back to New York, retrofitting his penny arcades for the more profitable motion-picture business. As The New York Times described it in 1921, the houses were "little places, dark and narrow," but the public loved them.

    By 1921, Loew had 34 theaters in New York alone. That year he opened the National, at Broadway and 44th Street, which held more than 3,000 people.

    WITH five such massive "wonder theaters" in New York and New Jersey, Loew helped usher in the golden age of moviegoing in the 1920's, with New Yorkers seeing about 50 films a year on average. In anticipating what would delight and impress mass audiences, Loew drew on his own experience. "He would note that hardly anyone had their own bathroom, and if they did, it wasn't much to look at," Mr. Melnick said. "And so even going to the bathrooms would be a treat." With manicured and tuxedoed ushers and pristine interiors (Loews did not have concessions until the 1940's), the theaters were spacious, uplifting temples of escapism.

    Loew, who was almost universally revered, was always ready with a business maxim ("I sell tickets to theaters, not movies," was a typical one) and he had considerable business savvy. When he noticed a rise in the prices that theaters were charged to rent films, he decided he should not only show pictures but make them, too. He bought Metro Pictures in 1920; it eventually became the giant MGM.

    In the 50's, as the movie business changed in response to the coming of television, Loews opened drive-ins and, later, multiplexes and slowly bade farewell to the giant cinema palaces. (The Loews Astor Plaza in Times Square, which opened in 1968 with 1,200 seats, was a last hurrah.) Many of Loew's theaters, like the ones he built on Avenue B on the site of the tenement in which he was raised, no longer exist.

    But the Loew legacy endures in other ways. Perhaps most important, a typical New Yorker spends more money going to the movies than people elsewhere in the country, a fact Loew would have relished. And the name Loews persists in New Yorkers' memory, too; as Mr. Melnick points out, it "has been on the tongues of New Yorkers for 100 years."

    However, they pronounce it differently than other Americans. "Couth was 'lows,' " said Peter Osnos, the publisher of Public Affairs, who grew up in the Belnord apartment building on 86th Street and whose favorite Loews was the one at 83rd Street and Broadway. "Uncouth, or New York, was 'LOW-ees.' It was just the way people in New York characterize things in funny ways."

    "I always though of Loews as the Yankees and RKO as the Dodgers," Mr. Osnos said in explaining his loyalty to the chain. "The Loews was much closer to my home and so that was my team."

    For Jonathan Schwartz, the New York radio personality, the memory is Atwater 9-4607. "That was the beautiful name and number of the Loews Orpheum at 86th, and to this day I retain the phone number," he said.

    "These theaters each had a distinct personality," Mr. Schwartz added. Of the 72nd Street Orpheum, he said, "you'll find a reference to that beautiful theater with stars on the ceiling, much like a planetarium, in 'The Catcher in the Rye,' where Holden remembers it."

    Tom Vanderbilt is the author of "Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  3. #3
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Loew's Paradise in the BRONX

    In Nearly All Its Grandeur,
    Paradise Reopens in Bronx

    By JOSEPH BERGER
    October 22, 2005

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/22/ny...2paradise.html


    Stars will not be twinkling in an enchanted nighttime sky, and goldfish will not be gliding through the fountain, but otherwise Paradise - or at least the Bronx version of it - is about to be regained.

    The Loew's Paradise, a 76-year-old movie palace that gave generations of working-class strivers a taste of Old World opulence and gave generations of teenagers a haunting setting for the taste of their first kiss, is scheduled to reopen next Saturday after more than 30 years of either being boarded up or sliced up into multiple screens.



    Librado Romero/The New York Times

    Almost 4,000 burgundy seats
    have been installed, and the famed
    midnight-blue ceiling has been repainted.


    The new owner of what was once the Bronx equivalent of Radio City Music Hall has restored much of its Italian baroque grandeur. Since putting up $4.5 million to acquire the theater two years ago, the owner, Gerald Lieblich, has gotten workers to clean the cherubs, caryatids, recumbent lions, gargoyles and other statuary in the vaulted lobby and gargantuan auditorium, install almost 4,000 burgundy seats and repaint the famed midnight-blue ceiling.


    Librado Romero/The New York Times

    One of several murals visible
    on entering the lobby of the
    Loew's Paradise on the
    Grand Concourse in the Bronx.


    Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx borough historian, called the reopening "the resurrection of one of the most spectacular movie palaces ever built."

    "It was the showplace of the Bronx," he said. "It was meant to take people out of their humdrum existence and bring them into a world of unimagined wealth and luxury."

    The Paradise will not reopen as a movie house, however. Its opening night performance is a salsa and merengue concert, clearly a bid to cater to a borough where Latinos now make up half the populace. The entrepreneurs leasing the space also plan to hold gospel, rhythm and blues and comedy acts, live boxing matches, closed-circuit sports events, beauty pageants and nostalgia acts that might appeal to onetime Bronx residents.

    The entrepreneurs also plan to use the giant auditorium once more for high school graduations, and to rent out the ornate lobby and mezzanine for weddings and bar mitzvahs, perhaps even for the grandchildren of those who remember first seeing "Singin' in the Rain" or "Jailhouse Rock" at the Paradise.

    However the theater is used, the reopening of the 45,000-square-foot building is another milestone in the gathering renaissance of a borough that two decades ago was known for its landscape of eviscerated buildings and Fort Apache air of menace. Indeed, the once-princely boulevard it sits on, the 99-year-old Grand Concourse, is itself being spruced up. The refurbished Loew's Paradise is likely to dazzle a different generation of strivers and their children just as it dazzled one resident, Diane Levine Edelstein, when she was a teenager almost a half-century ago.

    "You walked in and you felt you were in another world, you weren't in a movie theater," said Ms. Edelstein, now a senior research assistant at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "We always sat in the balcony because you felt closer to heaven. I remember watching the stars and not looking at the movie."

    Others remembered its balcony as something of a lovers' lane. "I remember going to the Paradise in the late 1950's when they were showing 'The Ten Commandments,' and the couple to my right was breaking nine of them," said Stephen M. Samtur, co-publisher of Back in the Bronx magazine, a nostalgic quarterly.

    Phyllis Gross Greenbaum, now a publisher of community newspapers in the Washington-Baltimore area, suggested that the Paradise stunned her and her friends because "I don't think many of us grew up with that kind of elegance."

    The Paradise, whose five-story facade has been declared a city landmark, opened in 1929, six weeks before the stock market crashed, with a showing of the "all-talking" film, "The Mysterious Dr. Fu-Manchu," starring Warner Oland. Its architect was John Eberson, an Austrian immigrant who began his career designing opera houses and went on to create dozens of what were known as "atmospheric" theaters, including five "Wonder Theaters" for the Loew's national chain in the New York area.

    The Paradise's atmospheric show included twinkling stars, rolling clouds and flying pigeons. The stage was surrounded by sculptured walls with flowing vines, cypress trees and shrubs and classical statues everywhere. In three domes set into the lobby's filigreed ceiling, Eberson had painters execute dreamy murals of ersatz half-nude deities: Sound, Story and Film.

    The grand lobby was surrounded by fluted and gilded mahogany pillars and, at mezzanine level, an arched balustrade of royal proportions. On the lobby's north wall Eberson placed a Carrara marble fountain of a child on a dolphin. (The fountain's pool, which once held the goldfish, will not be replaced because it would interfere with a new concessions stand.) For the cream-toned terra cotta and marble facade, Eberson designed a mechanical clock topped by St. George astride a charger slaying a fire-breathing dragon every time the clock struck the hour. The theater cost $4 million to build.

    Over the years, the fountain stopped bubbling, the clock stopped working and St. George vanished around 1970, somehow lowered five stories onto a busy thoroughfare. As television made it difficult to fill the theater's seats and middle-class audiences moved to the suburbs, the Paradise was divided up, first as a twin around 1973 and then in the early 1980's as a quadriplex, which it remained until 1994, when, severely run-down, it closed for good.

    At least one effort to resurrect it collapsed, with $1 million alone spent on gilding. But in 2003, the Paradise was taken over by Mr. Lieblich, a 44-year-old developer of small commercial buildings.

    "For the last 20 years that I've been in the Bronx, it's been better and better, and in the theater I saw an eyesore that needed to be brought back as the crown jewel," Mr. Lieblich said.

    With workmen still vacuuming the auditorium, Mr. Lieblich showed a reporter around, highlighting the new air-conditioning, the repointing of the facade, the replacement of reddish neons in the marquee and the replication of the original oval ticket booth. Getting the lights to twinkle again, he said, proved uneconomical. He declined to say how much he had spent.

    One of the keys to making the project profitable, he said, is renting the 30,000 square feet of commercial space that is part of the theater building to a significant retailer. One has not been secured yet. A major retailer would be a step up from the shops flanking the theater to the north, a 99-cents store and one that sells furniture on credit.

    The opening-night concert is an only-in-New York production. The impresarios leasing the theater are Gabriel Boter, 58, who immigrated from the former Soviet state of Georgia in 1979, and his son Richard, 30, a nonpracticing lawyer who is married to a Dominican and is fluent in Spanish.

    Father and son expect to schedule 35 concerts a year and 10 boxing matches, though they do not have any longtime experience in organizing events.

    There are three firm bookings after opening night, including a concert sponsored by WQHT-FM 97.1 "Hot 97" and a Latina beauty contest.

    "There is a strong personal attachment I found people have to the Paradise," the younger Mr. Boter said. "That gives me a strong sense of personal responsibility to make sure that it will have the splendor and be the jewel it once was."



    Last edited by Kris; October 22nd, 2005 at 06:20 AM.

  4. #4

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    This will be great for the Bronx..

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    Wow. Just...wow. If all movie palaces were that sublime, then I have to question the sanity of whoever thought that they were obsolete and needed to be demolished.

  7. #7
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Here in Jersey City we have the only one of his movie palaces to be built outside of New York and it is a great place we have film festivals there and showings of old movies on weekends. It is at Journal Square and here is the website.http://www.loewsjersey.org/ It is worth taking the trip on the PATH to JSQ. We have a connection with the one in the Bronx because we have their original organ that was there and saved it and brought it here to the Loews Jersey.
    Last edited by JCMAN320; October 24th, 2005 at 10:23 AM.

  8. #8
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    These are the places where EVENTS should be held.

    Premiers with the starring actors/Actresses, conventions showing full movie series runs (such as Star Wars, Indianna Jones, Godfather, LOTR, etc).

    Ones where you can see more than just the film.

    I have a feeling we may see more revival of these as things like plasma screens and HD get popular for homes.

    Who would want to spend $10 a shot at a movie when you can get something just as good sitting in your living room? People want something they can't get at home when they go to the movies. Whether it is atmosphere or just an experience out of the house.

    If you give them more than they can EVER get at home, namely SPACE and ATMOSPHERE, they will come again.

  9. #9

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    This is great news for the Bronx -- its turning around incredibly.

  10. #10

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    November 19, 2006
    Streetscapes | Grand Concourse
    Loew’s Paradise Is Once Again Worthy of Its Name
    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY


    Loew’s Paradise theater when it opened in 1929.


    INTO ANOTHER WORLD The restored interior of Loew’s Paradise at 184th Street and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx looks much as it did when it opened in 1929.

    PRODDED along by Gerald Lieblich, an entrepreneur and restaurant owner, Loew’s Paradise, which opened in 1929 at 184th Street and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, seems to have conquered its troubled renovation history. It reopened last fall as a site for concerts and private parties: Boyz II Men is scheduled later this month, and a reggae show is planned for mid-January.

    The very modern energy of such performers is in a way a fitting homage to the Paradise’s architect, John Eberson, with his funhouse palette and signature night-sky ceiling. His invention of the “atmospheric” theater brought ingenuity to a building type that was often just an exercise in overloaded gilt and velvet.

    Mr. Eberson was educated in Dresden and Vienna and came to the United States about 1901. His son, Drew, wrote in the 1975 annual of the Theater Historical Society that his father had fought several duels and had the scars to prove it.

    Mr. Eberson began his career in the United States by designing opera houses and theaters in the Midwest, at first following the traditional pattern of treating the auditorium as a conventional room, although often outlandishly palatial. But in 1923 that changed. He gave his Majestic Theater, in Houston, wildly classical walls — including a reproduction of the Porch of the Maidens on the Acropolis — but a dead-plain ceiling, onto which were projected moving clouds. The idea goes back to Classical times and beyond, but its use in a movie house was unusual.

    While researching Florida theaters, Michael Kinerk and Dennis Wilhelm located a 1926 Tampa Tribune interview in which Mr. Eberson explained his point of inspiration: “I have been wintering in Florida for the past several years, and it is from this state that I got the atmospheric idea. I was impressed with the colorful scenes that greeted me at Miami, Palm Beach and Tampa. Visions of Italian gardens, Spanish patios, Persian shrines and French formal gardens flashed through my mind, and at once I directed my energies to carrying out these ideas.”

    “Atmospherics” caught on, and in 1928 E. C. Murphy, writing in Pencil Points magazine, said Mr. Eberson had “dotted the country with large motion picture theaters of this kind.”

    One of Mr. Eberson’s “dots” landed on the Grand Concourse just south of Fordham Road in 1929. Loew’s Paradise has an elaborate terra-cotta facade, but that hardly prepares visitors for the extravaganza awaiting within.

    The grand foyer is in a palatial style of a kind: five or six palaces seem to have been crammed into one. The double-height room is thick with vaults, ceiling murals, chandeliers, ironwork, busts and the like.

    But it is the auditorium that may induce gasps. It is an architectural atomic pile with the control rods pulled all the way out. Balustrades, urns, statues, caryatids, scrolls and niches jostle one another over the proscenium and across the side walls — which themselves end in a mock rooftop treatment, with terraces, porches and other features.

    These all yield to a huge, curved blank ceiling, now painted a deep, rich blue. Historical photographs show that artificial vines, trees and birds once added to the outdoor effect. In 1929, Architecture and Building magazine noted with some understatement that “decorative artifice is carried to the extreme.”

    Theaters like Loew’s Paradise presented both movies and stage shows. An October 1929 ad for the Paradise offered both John Gilbert in the movie “His Glorious Night” — billed as “his first all-talking picture” — and a “modernistic revue,” called “Dyno-Maniacs,” performed by Dave Schooler and the Paradise Serenaders.

    Mr. Eberson designed two other atmospherics in New York City: the fantastic Valencia Theater in Jamaica, Queens, built in 1929 in the Spanish Renaissance style, and the Lane Theater in New Dorp, Staten Island, built in 1938 in an outer-space motif.

    By the time of his death in 1954, Mr. Eberson had designed more than 500 theaters, and his son took over his practice.

    By then, the Paradise was entering a slow decline. After being divided into two and then four theaters, it closed in 1994. An entrepreneur soon started restoration work, but the project was troubled by conflicting claims. It was not until 2004 that Mr. Lieblich, who owns the Russian Tea Room and Beppe in Manhattan, began his attempt to reopen the theater, succeeding a year later.

    To walk into the Paradise Theater now is to be cowed into insignificance. Colors, lights, shapes — it is an architectural acid trip. The flutes in the classical pilasters have been painted red; the statues in the niches are lighted from underneath with pulsing violet, green, blue and yellow lights; the individual coffers in the niches behind the statues have been painted red and blue, and the egg-and-dart detail has been picked out in the same colors.

    Evergreene Studios handled the painting restoration.

    Mr. Lieblich said that things are fine economically at the new/old Paradise. “I’m very happy” was how he put it.

    Group tours are planned on some weekends in the spring; details will be posted at theparadisetheater.com.


    At his death in 1954, John Eberson had designed more than 500 theaters, including Loew’s Paradise at 184th Street and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bob's Avatar
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    Aaah...the great movie palaces...how great they were, indeed. I miss them all. Nothing beats seeing a film on a truly big screen at these amazing places!

  12. #12

    Default Staten Island Theatres

    If one can't make it to the Bronx, come out to the St. George Theatre on Staten Island. It's only a freey ride and 5 minute walk up Hyatt Street to this 1929 theatre. It has been restored and presents theatre and live shows and concerts, plays, etc.

  13. #13

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    I've always admired this building.

    The Grand Concourse has the potential to be magnificent. I hope that its redevelopment is a success.

  14. #14

  15. #15

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    Thanks for the info, Zip.

    Hopefully, the Concourse will return to its glory and will be a catalyst for development in other parts of the Bronx like Fordham Road.

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