Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The brothers Skouras started in St. Louis in distribution and exhibition and eventually went into production. Spyros Skouras became prsident of 20th Century Fox in 1942 and was instrumental in introducing Cinemascope. With this new wide screen process came the removal of boxes in many theaters across the country. Somewhere there is a pile of old discarded boxes.
I read a story written by the man who took these photos. His real quest that day was to not only photograph these two theaters but also to photograph the Japanese Gardens above the Riviera. The two elevators that went up there were had been out of commission for years. The stair case that went up to the Gardens from the elevator lobby had been sealed off long ago. According to the floor plans for the Riviera Building, there were no connections between the theaters and the office building. The only way they found to get into the Japanese Gardens was through 5 floors of Riviera dressing rooms, described as dark, dank and musty.
Demolition on the Riviera began close to ten years after the collapse of the Riverside. The site, which almost played host to Gimbel's West, was a garden for many years. When the building that eventually went up on the site was built, the displaced garden moved to Riverside Park as is called the Community Garden.
The curtains on the side are there to hide the damage done by the removal of the boxes. Not an uncommon situation in theaters of this type and age. The boxes often got in the way of wide screen presentations.
Interior picture of the Japanese Gardens just after seat replacement work had been completed.
This is looking north west from the east side of Broadway between 95th and 96th streets. The large stain glass windows visible in the Japanese Gardens picture below are clearly visible in this picture. These windows were boarded over by the time I started going to the pictures.
This is 96th street prior to the Westside Improvement. The top picture is looking south, the building in the background is 230 Riverside Drive at 95th street and the kids crossing the tracks are really old now. The third rail in the foreground is the same used today on the Metro North railroad (the LIRR and the NYC subway system use a different type).
The bottom picture is looking north. The train in the background is being pulled by an electric locomotive. Curiously, there is a passenger car at the back end. Passenger service on that part of the Hudson Line had ended decades earlier.