Beekman Theatre

1254 2nd Avenue,
New York, NY 10021

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Showing 351 - 375 of 399 comments

Mikeoaklandpark on February 23, 2005 at 5:13 am

This is great news that Harvey Weinstein is involved. He is very strong headed and if he has anything to say the Beekman may have a fighting chance.

dave-bronx™ on February 22, 2005 at 10:02 pm

Someone should point out to Sloan-Kettering that in case they haven’t noticed, there is no shortage in the area of block-fronts that are completely occupied by dilapidated ancient tenament buildings that are, quite frankly, a dime a dozen in New York City. Razing them to put up a new building would improve the neighborhood. But S-K is taking the easy way out – by taking the Beekman, a 1-story commercial building, they don’t have to jump through the legal hoops and suffer the adverse publicity associated with getting residential tenants out of apartments.

RobertR on February 22, 2005 at 8:44 pm

I don’t believe for a minute that something is not up with Cinema 1-2-3. City Cinemas may not have a buyer now but for sure they are preventing landmark status by smearing the place with concrete. Remember the Rivoli UA ruined the front a few years before they closed it.

uncleal923 on February 22, 2005 at 8:18 pm

I don’t think I was ever to the Beekman, but that may be good news for it. It may be a premiere venue for Miramax Films.

savethesutton on February 21, 2005 at 5:31 pm

That is great news that Weinstein is involved. The Beakman may now be New York’s greatest theater and we can’t afford to lose it. Is there any other news on preservation efforts?

Benjamin on February 21, 2005 at 5:18 pm

jabrams: In answer to your question, there was an article in the January 27, 2005 “Lenox Hill Edition” of “Our Town” (a free newsweekly distributed via those platic news boxes on street corners). The article was about the rumored closings of both the Beekman and Cinema 1, 2 3. (“Our Town” does not appear to publish an on-line edition.)

The good news in the article is about Cinema 1, 2 3 — contrary to rumors, it will not be closed.

The bad news is that the Beekman is indeed scheduled to close this spring. Charlotte Eichna, the author of the article reports that, “The lease will officially terminate in June and construction should begin soon thereafter … .”

More bad news is that the Landmarks Preservation Commission appears to be offering only token support for preservation of the Beekman. Seri Worden, executive director of “Friends of the Upper East Side Hitoric Districts,” a preservation group, is quoted as saying that “her group has been working since 2001 to get the Beekman designated as a city landmark … . We’ve met with them [the Landmark Preservation Commission] many times. They say they’re sympathetic and they’ll look into it, but you have to actually do something.”

Also, at the end of the article it is reported that, “The Beekman is not currently scheduled for a hearing, according to [Diane] Jackier [a spokeswoman for Landmarks] … which would be the first step in the designation process.”

If experience from the recent past is any indicataion, this means that the LPC has already made up its mind not to designate the Beekman. Refusal to schedule a hearing [or “calendar” (used as a verb) — in the lingo of the preservation community] is their sneaky way of voting “no” when a landmark designation does not have the support of the Mayor, etc. (This is the current tactic being used to frustrate the possible designation of 2 Columbus Circle, which has the dean of Yale’s School of Architecture, among many other knowledgeable and distinguished supporters, lobbying for a public hearing on its possible designation.)

A ray of hope found in the article is that Seri Worden’s group hopes to “work with industry heavyweight Harvbey Weinstein, the founder of Miramax Films, who has publicly stated that he plans to fight for the Beekman.”

jabrams on February 13, 2005 at 2:50 pm

Has there been any recent news/updates on the Beekman and Cinema 1 2 3 Theater closings?

uncleal923 on January 17, 2005 at 7:53 pm

Then what you people need to do is maybe form a committee to save it. I was never to the Beekman, but it seems that would be a good idea.

Benjamin on January 9, 2005 at 5:22 pm

Thinking about the Beekman, it occurred to me why I think news of its proposed demolition may be so disturbing:

The Beekman is, perhaps, the Radio City Music Hall of the art house era — or, one might say, an art house version of the Roxy.

That is to say, what the art nouveau New Amsterdam Theater was to the sophisticated patrons of the Ziegfeld Follies in the early years of the 20th Century; what the opulently overwhelming Roxy was to the masses of silent movie fans in the roaring jazz age 20s; and what the massive and sleek Radio City Music Hall was to family fare moviegoers of the 30s, 40s and 50s, the Beekman was to intellectually adventurous New Yorkers of the post-WWII era, especially in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Beekman is more than just a movie theater — it is/was a way of going to the movies … oops, going to the “cinema” or a way of experiencing thought provoking / great “film.”

Funny too, how waiting on line at the Beekman (immortalized in “Annie Hall”[?]) might be considered a more sophisticated and grown up version of the New York “tradition” of waiting on line for the Christmas or Easter show at Radio City Music Hall!

And the Beekman’s coffee bar, offering what was then novel and sophisticated Columbian coffee and a window allowing loungers to see the screen through glass from the lounge, might be considered an art house equivalent of the Radio City Music Hall vast underground lounge.

RobbKCity on January 6, 2005 at 2:21 pm

I used to work in public affairs for one of NYC’s large medical centers. One of the most effective methods of blocking a project of this type, or seeking concessions, is through local neighborhood community boards on the Upper East Side. The groups are very organized and politically active, and have a lot of clout. Many of their members even serve on hospital community advisory boards.

I recall a plan by New York Hospital (back in the 1970s I believe) to build a very tall structure partially over FDR Drive. It would have towered over the neighborhood like a monolith. I believe it was a 40- or 50-story building, which would have been twice the size of the old hospital tower (which is 28 stories I think). Part of the structure would have been on New York Hospital’s existing property, so no neighborhood buildings were threatened.

The neighborhood community boards put a stop to it very quickly, and delayed construction of the new hospital building by almost 25 years. The building that was actually constructed in the mid-90s is 10-stories, and it does extend over FDR Drive as originally planned. However, the neighborhood wasn’t subjected to a looming toward completely over-scaled for the surrounding neighborhood.

It was a good thing this hospital project was delayed for so long. Changes in health care—away from inpatient to outpatient treatment—did away with the need for hospitals to have so many beds. Had that building been built, it would have struggled to fill its beds in today’s health care market. The building would have become a white elephant.

Memorial Sloan Kettering also wanted to tear down a church on the SE corner of First Avenue and 67th streets for a new medical research building. The church had for years provided low-cost on-campus accommodations for patients, and their family members, who were seeking treatment for cancer. I haven’t lived in NYC for three years, so I don’t know the outcome of that plan. Before I left NYC though, there was a campaign to stop demolition of the church.

However, one must realize that Memorial Sloan-Kettering has few options for physical growth. The medical center desperately needs to expand its services, and research space. The need for additional research space is important because it brings in needed federal and state money that subsidizes other hospital operations. It is a non-profit institution that doesn’t have a lot of cash laying around to buy other expensive property.

Often times the solution in this type of situation is a trade. It can be one parcel of land for another. Another solution is to allow the hospital a variance to build a narrower, yet taller, building on a part of the property that can be sacrificed if it will build around the theater.

I know the Beekman is just one part of the property. If I recall, there used to be a bank to the south of the Beekman that was converted into office space for the hospital. Isn’t there also a furniture store on the north side? Is the theater also attached to an apartment building? If MSKCC plans to tear the Beekman down, will it also tear down an attached apartment building?

The other solution is to allow MSKCC to tear down one of the older buildings on its campus and replace it with a much taller structure.

But providing MSKCC with an alternative to that site still doesn’t solve the problem of the low-density of the land on which the Beekman is just a part. Whatever happens, it seems to me that any owner of the property will have to be allowed to build higher than zoning allows on the non-theater part of the property to compensate it for saving the theater.

Wasn’t a much taller apartment building allowed to be constructed around and above the United Artists theater on Third Avenue on one of the 60s blocks?

I can no longer recall if the interior of the theater and the lobby are architecturally-significant in any way. If it’s fairly ordinary, it’s going to be harder to make a case for landmark status. Just because it is a big auditorium with wider seats isn’t going to make the case. One might be able to make a case for saving the unique marquee on the front of the building, and using it as the entrance to a new building. One still loses the theater in that case.

These neighborhood boards are listed on the City’s Web site if I recall. The hospitals fear these groups like the plague, and do anything possible to keep them happy.

I believe that the state has to also approve and issue a certificate of need for any hospital-related project.

In addition to Woody Allen, I know that Arthur Miller lives just a couple of blocks to the north on Second Avenue. I think Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard live nearly on Third Avenue as well.

Benjamin on January 6, 2005 at 10:03 am

P.S. — I started writing my previous post before the two very pertinent posts that come before it were posted. So my post wasn’t meant to be a commentary on them.

Benjamin on January 6, 2005 at 9:55 am

Although this news is bad, it is great that Lumenick is giving everyone a heads up on this.

As someone who’s been on the periphery of landmarks preservation for a while, I hope those who’ve expressed concern about the Beekman will try and make contact with established community and landmarks groups in order to spur these groups on in this fight and to give more force to their own voice. (More on this in a bit.)

Although I am not that familiar with the history of the these groups with regard to the Beekman, my gut feeling is that most members of these groups are already very ardent Beekman fans and have probably been stymied (so far) by those in positions of power who are opposed to its designation as a landmark (exterior or interior). (A building need only be, I believe, 25 years old to be eligible for consideration, and the Beekman has always had a very high profile among those in NYC concerned with landmarking.)

Why and how might they have been stymied?

There are groups and factions within the landmarking community, just as there are in other groups. Here are some of the arguments (not that I necessarily agree or disagree with them) that might have been preventing the Beekman’s designation so far:

You can’t landmark “everything.” A building should be significant either historically or architecturally to warrant designation. Landmarking shouldn’t be used to stop developments we may not like, nor to stop time and make the city into a “museum” — a latter day “Williamsburg.” So one should be very careful about what one designates as a landmark and how many landmarks the city designates over all. You don’t want to unnecessarily impede the City’s development. (Not that this prevents the same people from proposing their own favorites built in one of the sacrosanct styles — like the rather ordinary, except for it’s ugliness, SOCONY-MOBIL building on E. 42nd St. — from being designated landmarks!)

In terms of determining whether a building is architecturally significant:

Among those involved in landmarking and in positions of power, certain styles appear to be more sacrosanct, and more worthy of preservation, than others — e.g., the International Style is considered far more “important” than Art Deco. It seems to me that lowest on the totem pole are the modern styles that have not been approved, or have only been grudgingly approved, by the architectural congnescenti (sp?). Thus, it seems to me, buildings built in the more accessible and more popular modern styles (like the Beekman) are often not seen as architectually significant among the cognescenti in power and thus may be seen by them as less worthy of preservation.

When a building is not seen by those in power as worthy of landmark designation, one technique that is used to prevent its designation is a refusal to calendar it for a public hearing (i.e., don’t allow the landmarking process to begin in the first place). This technique is presently being used to cut short discussion on the possible designation of 2 Columbus Circle (originally built as the “Gallery of Modern Art”) — which has a number of distinguished architectural historians arguing in favor of a least a public hearing on its designation.

So my guess is that it is probably not worth the effort AT THE PRESENT MOMENT to contact the Landmarks Preservation Commission on behalf of the Beekman. Rather, it seems to me that it might be more helpful to contact an organiztion like the Municipal Art Society – the group that spearheaded the fight to save Grand Central (and the group that gave Woody Allen an award for his contribution to New York City). They could probably refer people to other groups, whose exact names escape me at the moment, as well.

(Although, it should be mentioned, that even the MAS has been lukewarm on certain theater preservation issues. I believe internal disagreement prevented them from getting involved in the fight to support the preservation of the Helen Hayes and Morosco theaters in the early 1980s.)

br91975 on January 6, 2005 at 9:26 am

There already is an effort underfoot to save the Beekman – a community group, the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District, have submitted an application with the LPG. In addition, there has been a fair amount of media coverage the last couple of days – in the NY Post and via a report broadcast on Fox-5, along with an article in today’s Post about the now threatened Cinema 1-2-3, and a vow of assistance in the attempt to preserve both the Beekman and Cinema 1-2-3 from Harvey Weinstein.

jabrams on January 6, 2005 at 8:58 am

Is there anything that can be done to stop the process of shutting down the Beekman? Like signing petitions to Landmark Preservation Group. Writing your thoughts about it here and going to see a film at the theater before it closes is not going to stop the theater from being torn down. There has to be a more proactive way to go.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 5, 2005 at 5:35 pm

slightly correcting the above – Boston now has only three operating movie theaters — one opened in 2001, one in 2000, and one in 1984. The last will close soon, and will not be lamented. Anyway, there’s nothing left here from the 1940s, 50s, or 60s. Sorry for the digression, and back to the Beekman now.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 5, 2005 at 5:27 pm

from the Post article: “While the city landmarked and preserved virtually all of the old Broadway houses under laws that were passed in response to plans to demolish Grand Central Terminal, it failed to follow cities from Boston to San Francisco that have also saved movie theaters.”

Boston is hardly a good example to follow here. In the entire city there is NO movie theatre operating that was built before 2000. Three old downtown movie palaces have been restored for live performance use, but four others sit vacant (one in danger of immediate demolition), four have been demolished, two converted to non-theatre uses. The three restored theatres are all from before 1930.

JMags on January 5, 2005 at 5:16 pm

Does the Wood Man know about this? We must write to him and contact him in all means possible. Goal #1 – Contact Wood Man. Goal #2 – Get Premiere of Melinda/Melinda at this location. I will be there eating a sandwich (not sure which kind right now).

CUBBSCOUT on January 5, 2005 at 4:07 pm

Do Woody Allen films premiere at THE BEEKMAN, as in the past? If so, it would be wonderful is his new film MELINDA/MELINDA would be booked there by FOX SEARCHLIGHT films in MARCH.

Bway on January 5, 2005 at 2:58 pm

I just saw this story on TV on Channel 5! The Beekman is being torn down to build a medical facility ! What a tragedy!
The leaseholder is following up on an option in it’s lease or something. A community group is going to try and save it, but it doesn’t look good.

ZARDOZ on January 5, 2005 at 1:50 pm

Now that I know about the Beekman, I will make it a destination within a few weeks. no matter what is playing (unless, of course, it’s a documentary about Menudo.)

chconnol on January 5, 2005 at 1:49 pm

And what about the Tower East? Can anyone find out if that one’s set to close when it’s lease is up?

chconnol on January 5, 2005 at 1:48 pm

True, true…but maybe, just maybe the tone of the article can be more about stopping it’s demise. We’ll see. It’s worth a shot.

ErikH on January 5, 2005 at 1:39 pm

Note that the NY Times ran an article last summer about the closing of the Astor Plaza before it shuttered (and the article referred to this site).

chconnol on January 5, 2005 at 1:29 pm

I’ve E-Mailed the NY Times to see if they can/will write an article about the theater. I don’t know if it will happen. They wrote an article AFTER The Guild closed (WOW! THAT HELPED! THANKS!) but let’s see if they can write something now that can get people moving. If people, especially New Yorkers, are not made aware of it’s closing, they cannot do anything about it.

AndyT on January 5, 2005 at 12:58 pm

Note the recent succesful outpouring of community support recently for Pale Male (the hawk nested on a Fifth Avenue co-op (coop??). Let’s pay some attention to this —– keep it in front of the news media, let our local politicos know and maybe most important, communicate our displeasure to Sloan-Kettering. There is no certainty that we can do anything, but if we remain silent the Beekman will join the rest of our lost Treasures.