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Queens Chronicle

The Boulevard Theater, an icon in Jackson Heights

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Posted: Thursday, May 7, 2009 12:00 am

In 1925 Grob and Knobel hired famous architect Herbert J. Krapp (1887-1973) to build a 1,839-seat movie theater, the Boulevard, on a 100-by-160-foot plot of land in Jackson Heights. Krapp worked mainly in New York City, and 15 of his Broadway theaters are still standing today. As is the one he designed on Northern Boulevard.

In 1928 famous mogul William Fox of Roslyn took over the theater. When the Depression hit the following year, Skouras Theaters acquired the Boulevard, along with neighboring theaters in Jackson Heights andSunnyside. George King managed the Boulevard.

In the late 1930s the Boulevard had an assessed value of $245,000, but by the late ’40s it had droppedto only $220,000.

In 1948 Quonset huts, remants of World War II, were the first home of OurLadyof Fatima parish school and church.While a church was being erected on 80th Street, the Boulevard hosted Sunday masses for parishioners.

By the ’70s the theater was in decline. When it closed, community activists fought against its demolitionand won.

In 1985 it became Native Specialties Restaurant, with a bar, restaurant and theater that occasionally would show a foreign movie. You could also rent out the theater for plays at $1,000 a night, complete with a sound technician.

Today residents are proud of their landmark building and grateful it has survived.

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