I just spent the last few hours reading a bunch of your fascinating posts in the archives. I live in the Fordham section of the Bronx, just a few blocks from the recently re-opened Loew's Paradise. As many of you know, the Paradise now books live music acts and boxing matches, but no movies. Sad, but at least the magnificent structure has been returned to active use after lying dormant for a long time.
A few years ago I spent several months traipsing around the West Bronx (the area west of the Bronx River, which runs north-south through the borough) and took pictures of old movie theatre buildings that are still standing but no longer functioning as cinemas. Some are empty, some now house stores, and some are in use as churches (and thus the auditorium spaces have been thankfully preserved).
It's amazing to realize that from the 1910s to the 1960s there were upwards of 90 movie theaters in this part of NYC, in some cases 3 or 4 huge ones within a few blocks of each other. Slightly more than 50 remain standing. Of course the demographics of the borough were different in those days - mainly middle-class Irish, Italian, and Jewish. Today it is primarily Hispanic and African-American.
But lest any of you think the Bronx is still suffering from the urban blight of the 1970s, let me assure you that things have changed considerably, for the better. Crime is at an all-time low, old apartment buildings have been rehabilitated, new buildings are going up all over. The Bronx is once again a great place to live. Of course, I'm biased, since I spent part of my childhood here, and returned to live and work here 6 years ago, partly for nostalgic reasons.
Anyway, the shame of it all is that - except for an awful multiplex in a shopping mall near Yankee Stadium - there are no active movie theatres in the West Bronx. The area's population is still huge, and people that live here still go out to the movies. But today, Bronx movie-goers have no choice but to take the train downtown and patronize one of the multiplexes in Manhattan.
I'm providing the link below to my Photo Guide to Old Bronx Movie Houses, because I think many of you may be interested to see the wealth of architecturally significant buildings that remain here to remind us of what once was. Comments welcome. http://kraybill.home.mindspring.com/
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