96th Street Theatre
1703 3rd Avenue,
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Previous Names: New Third Avenue Theatre, Yorkville Theatre, National Theatre
The New Third Avenue Theatre is listed in the American Motion Picture Directory 1914-1915 edition. It is also listed in the 1926 Film Daily Year Book as the New Third Avenue Theatre, with 600 seats. The New Third Avenue Theatre fell victim to the Depression and closed in 1931.
Two years later, it re-opened as the Yorkville Theatre, with 494 seats reported and showing "only foreign-made pictures." In 1936, the name changed again to National Theatre.
In 1940, the National became a showcase for German films exclusively, and was re-named the 96th Street Theatre. By that time, World War II had started in Europe, and the 96th Street Theatre became notorious for being more pro-Nazi than other NYC cinemas showing German films.
Anti-Nazi pickets chose the 96th Street Theatre as their favorite target. The largest demonstration came in May, 1941, when the 96th Street presented "Sieg im Westen" ("Victory in the West"), a documentary feature depicting Nazi Germany’s conquests of Holland, Belgium and France, as well as defeats and captures of British troops. Pickets from the German-American Congress for Democracy and the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League paced the sidewalk in front of the entrance, waving placards such as "Down With All Dictators" and "Going to Nazi Theatres Helps to Undermine the American Defense System."
The local police station assigned five patrolmen to regular duty outside the theatre to keep order. Later that year, when the USA finally entered the war, the 96th Street Theatre closed for the duration.
It re-opened in 1946 with late-run domestic and foreign product, but closed permanently around 1949-50. The site is now occupied by an apartment building.
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