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Loew's Paradise Theater (former)

About this listing

Sumptuous former movie palace turned theater

Place Details

Borough : Bronx
Neighborhood : Fordham
Theater, What New Yorkers Find Beautiful, Arts and Entertainment, Performance

Place Matters Profile

By Deenah Vollmer

The grand movie palace is a dinosaur, some might say. In an age of shoe-box multiplexes--with ticket prices skyrocketing to over $10 a pop--a 4,000-seat theatre with velvet curtains, crystal chandeliers, and smoke machines has lost its stronghold in the diversifying entertainment industry. But in the Bronx, an effort to renovate and revive a historic landmark of architectural brilliance, a gathering place of community significance, and a multi-faceted entertainment center has successfully restored the Loews' Paradise Theatre in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Located on the west side of the Grand Concourse, the Theatre opened September 7, 1929 as one of five "Wonder Theatres" built by the Loews' cinema chain between 1929-30. "Wonder Theatres" are named for being equipped with identical Robert Morton pipe organs known as "Wonder Mortons."

"When the Grand Concourse was developed in the Bronx in the 1920s, people thought this would...

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On The Web

Cinema Treasures article
Norwood News article
Paradise Theatre Website


Pat De Angelis

Right now (September 2004), the facade of the theater has a certain shabby grandeur, barely hinting at the wealth of memories it holds for at least several generations of Bronxites. The Paradise was indeed the most magnificent movie house in the Bronx, and even if you went and saw a bad movie, it didn't matter because of the splendor of the interior that you could always enjoy. There was gilding everywhere, statues galore, live goldfish pools, a heavenly ceiling with clouds--it was a touch of paradise! For many of the folks who went there in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, times were hard, but the Paradise was still a bit of the American dream that you could enjoy. It was a special treat to go there for a movie (and back then, there were usually two at each show) and then across the Concourse to Krum's to get a soda or a sundae. It was a comfort zone of simple pleasures. (September 2004)

Glendaliz De La Rosa

The Bronx has a lot to offer. By reopening this theater, people can relive a time when the Bronx excelled in the arts and not in crime. I thin kit's time that peole see the many wonders of the Bronx.

I never had the chance to see the interior of this building, but I have read that it is filled with beautiful designs, and I think everyone should have the opportunity to see such things in their lifetime. (ca. 2003)

Sam Goodman

This is the only John Eberson atmospheric theater surviving in New York City as originally designed by Eberson. Constructed in 1929, this grand movie house has recently been fully restored pursuant to Eberson's vision and declared a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. It is also the second largest auditorium in New York City, accommodating approximately 4,000 seats.

Critical to our history are buildings that are both magnificent to look at and functional. The main auditorium has a wonderful stage, a vaulted ceiling rising approximately 70 feet high, and numerous statues, plaster carvings, and brass details that envelop you. The Loews Paradise Theater harkens back to a time that when pursuing entertainment, where people visited was just as important as what they were there to enjoy. Inside the Paradise you are transported to a place of elegance and peace--something that today's theaters lack. In short, what one finds in the Paradise cannot be affordably duplicated in a community where most residents live on modest incomes.

Following nearly twenty years of being empty and minimumly maintained, the theater was recently restored entirely by private monies, approximating a $15 million investment. To date, therefore, the future appears secure. However, given the enormous size of the building and the investment required for its preservation, my concern is that ultimately fate may force it to once again be "put to sleep." (July 2006)

For more information, see the Landmarks Preservation Commission of the City of New York:

Deirdre Mahoney

I discovered the Paradise in the '80s, when it was already transformed into a 4-plex, but its splendor could still be savored! It was a glorious space. Of all the movie theatres that once existed in the neighborhood of Fordham Road & the Grand Concourse, this was the most splendid--in every way. Now those other theatres [including the Capri and the Valentine] have been destroyed or disfigured beyond recognition.

The physical details are CRUCIAL, otherwise the Paradise could no longer be recognized as such. The 1920's "moorish"-style architecture and interior are signatures of the first great wave of movie theatres, dating back to the silent era. This theatre, as well as the very few that remain, are a link to those bygone days--the films, the people who attended them, as well as the staff who worked there, including the pianists and singers who performed during the silent films, and the vaudeville performers who entertained between screenings. (February 2005)

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