“Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? . . . this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won’t all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes.” - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
This is the south wall of the Riviera Theater, Japanese Gardens and the Riviera Building after the collapse and demolition of the Riverside Theater. I remember thinking, as a small child, that the balcony for the Riviera must be incredibly high, not knowing that there was a long closed theater up there.
When it announced that a developer was going to tear down the theaters and put up a 30 story apartment tower (consisting of only studios and one bedrooms) I was devastated. They only managed to knock a hole in the side of the Riverside before running out of money. It was almost shocking to see the red velvet curtain hanging in shreds behind the now battered proscenium arch. The enormous balcony was collapsing. Then the whole thing collapsed out onto 96th street (several parked cars were crushed) and inward. The fire and police departments searched and dug for days, looking for crushed junkies that supposedly lived in the shell of the Riverside. I remember seeing a hysterical woman on the news screaming that her daughter with a drug problem was in there. No bodies were found, at that time anyway.