Bushwick-Hancock Airdrome

1223-5 Bushwick Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11221

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Loew's Inc.

Previous Names: Lowe's Mammoth Open Air Theatre; A. E. Lowe's Outdoor Theatre; and Bushwick Gardens Airdrome

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Despite its many names, this theater, as noted in the Brooklyn Theatre Index, only functioned from 1911 through 1917. Two four story apartment buildings, constructed during the mid-1920’s, currently occupy this site.

The Index also notes that, in 1914, a plan to construct a grand theater here was announced in the New York Times. This endeavor, however, never came to pass.

Any additional information regarding this theater will be greatly appreciated.

Contributed by John Dereszewski

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

johndereszewski on March 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

Although the Brooklyn Theatre Index only specifies that the Airdrome was situated at the Bushwick-Hancock intersection, the northeast corner was indicated as the site for the proposed theater. When I visited the site, it became clear that only that corner could have possessed the space to accommodate a 1,500 outdoor theater. This is why I felt comfortable in assigning the specific street address in the introduction.

Speaking of the proposed “grand” theater, while no reason was provided for the failure of this venture – and it could simply have been the inability to raise the required funds – some speculation can be offered. In 1914, Bushwick Avenue was a truly grand boulevard, the place where the community’s churches and fancy residences were situated. The local theaters, on the other hand, were relegated to nearby Broadway, which was one of Brooklyn’s leading commercial strips. Given this, the construction of such a purely – and permanent – commercial entity on this very smart street might not have gone over well with the local community leadership. While they could tolerate a seasonal venture like the outdoor airdrome, a year-round operation like this theater was something else again. (The theater owners on Broadway would also not have appreciated the additional competition.) This could have made this proposal a rather controversial item.

Anyhow, minus any firm documentation, this scenario is only speculative. But it provides some food for thought and will hopefully encourage some of us to explore the old newspapers and other sources to see if there is – or is not – any truth to it. Good digging!

Astyanax on March 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm

John, I suspect your speculation about the community’s likely disapproval of an entertainment venue on Bushwick Ave to be accurate. Although a narrow thoroughfare, Bushwick Ave. was reknown through the middle of the last century for its distinguished churches. St. Marks Lutheran Church served as an anchor at one end of the avenue, as one steeple followed another going eastward. These churches along with the exlusive residences that lined the avenue would have disapproved of a large permanent theatre structure. Better to relegate the entertainment site to Broadway.

Bway on June 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm

It’s amazing how many theaters were in Bushwick and Ridgewood.

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