Loew's Rio Theatre

3837 Broadway,
New York, NY 10032

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Loew's Inc.

Architects: Herbert J. Krapp

Functions: Supermarket

Previous Names: Rio Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Loew's Rio in 1914

Opened in March 1920, the Rio Theatre was already a thriving vaudeville-movie theatre when Loew’s took over in the early-1920’s, but I have no information about its architectural style or what the name signified. But I some how doubt that it related to anything Brazilian. Due to its location so far uptown at Broadway and W. 159th Street, the Rio Theatre was probably patronized only by residents of the area. Loew’s Rio Theatre was equipped with a Moller 3 manual 32 rank theatre pipe organ.

After the opening of Loew’s 175th Street in 1930, the Rio Theatre was reduced to playing the same programs, but two weeks later. Loew’s Rio Theatre closed in March 1957 with Tyrone Power in “Abandon Ship” (aka Seven Waves Away) & Ben Gazzara in “The Strange One”. It became a supermarket for the next 50 years. In 2011, it was in multiple store use as ‘Plaza de Las Americas’. By 2017 it was SuperFood Town.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 10, 2004 at 11:25 am

Sorry, thats a typo, the seating capacity given in 1930 is for 2,603.

TLSLOEWS on December 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Still looks like a theatre.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 14, 2010 at 3:19 pm

The movie palaces of Washington Heights and Inwood.

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Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 27, 2010 at 11:51 pm

The Rio closed in March 1957. The last movies were “Abandon Ship!‘ and "The Strange One”.

lynnje on February 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Loews Rio was at 159th Street and Broadway, not 160th Street. I grew up on Riverside Drive and 159th Street and regularly attended Loews as a kid.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 15, 2016 at 4:59 am

The April 3, 1920, issue of Motion Picture News said that the Rio Theatre on upper Broadway had opened “…a few days ago.” It was originally operated by David B. Picker, who I believe was the grandfather of the producer David V. Picker who has, in recent decades, been at various times the head of Paramount, United Artists, and Columbia Pictures.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on March 15, 2016 at 11:05 am

The Picker family owned theatres in Manhattan and the Bronx before selling the operating leases to Loew’s. The current David Picker is the son of Eugene Picker, who became an executive of Loew’s Theatres and eventually president by the time the Tisch brothers bought control.

keithyorkcity on January 19, 2017 at 3:40 pm

The building has been extensively renovated as of late 2016/early 2017. The main auditorium is now home to a two-level SuperFoodTown. The upper floor has an exposed ceiling, and you can see the original beams of the theater roof, which is neat. Little else is recognizable. Some detailing around the old theater entrance survives, though partially obscured by signage.

michaelkaplan on May 6, 2019 at 12:35 pm

I had family who lived on Broadway at 148th Street, and one afternoon in the mid-1950s, I visited the Rio. The theater was ‘air-cooled’ rather than air-conditioned, and I recall large fans mounted on the side walls of the auditorium. Can’t recall what movie was playing, though.

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