BEATNIK HIWAY – THE LOEW’S CANAL THEATRE MANHATTAN, N.Y.

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Loew’s back in the day.

According to an article in the NY Post, Comedian Jerry Stiller grew up going to the Loew’s Canal. Stiller is quoted as saying “We used to go on Saturday morning at the Loew’s Canal. At 9 in the morning, they’d show things like the Fitzpatrick Traveltalk, cartoons and serials like Flash Gordon. By the time you got to 10:30, they’d get to the double-header, two pictures in a row. What happened was, your mother or father would drop you off at 9, and they didn’t have to pick you up until 3. That’s where we got our education.” Eddie Cantor, who also grew up in the Lower East Side, had the world premiere of his film Forty Little Mothers at the theater in April 1940.

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Loew’s in 1978 (Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York)

The theater closed in the late 1950s, and by the early 1960s the lobby was converted to retail space, while the auditorium was being as a warehouse. The terra cotta facade of the theater was designated a New York City Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Committee in 2010. Later that year, the Committee to Revitalize and Enrich the Arts and Tomorrow’s Economy (CREATE) teamed up with the building’s owners to conduct a feasibility study to convert the space into a performance arts center. They received $150,000 from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., but ultimately the project never came to fruition. The building’s owners planned on converting the space into an 11 story condo complex, but the plan was rejected by the NYC Department of Buildings.

Currently, the building sits empty, waiting for someone to restore it to its former glory.

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