Steinway Theatre

31-08 Steinway Street,
Astoria, NY 11103

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robboehm on April 21, 2016 at 10:55 pm

And a spiffy new facade it is.

spectrum on April 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

The current google street view (July 2015) shows the same modern façade, but a new business – Fallas clothing store.

robboehm on April 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Early photo of Steinway Street uploaded. You can see the vertical from the theater. Also a later shot showing theater without the vertical and the marquee that was in place to the end.

johndereszewski on February 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Well, my wife and I passed by the old Steinway yesterday evening and found that the “modernistic” facade has been removed and that the old white marble frontage now appears to have burst from its “iron mask”. While a remnant of the “Dr. Jays” logo remains etched in the surface, this can probably be corrected – or, perhaps one could say, exorcized.

Since it was dark when we visited the site, I can’t definitively verify this development. What I CAN say is that my wife, who was not previously aware of the site’s specific history, made an unprompted comment that “this looks like an old theater” when she saw it. This comment could not have been made while the awful Dr. Jays facade defiled the exterior.

I hope that other commentators will visit the site, take pictures and either verify or contradict my observations. If I am correct here, this facade could very easily support the development of a classy business, such as a bank or a good restaurant. In any event, let’s take a close look of this very promising recent development.

robboehm on June 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Tinseltoes can you tell if any of the old theatre facade is still there? I think it was removed when Lerner’s moved in some 50 years ago.

robboehm on September 6, 2009 at 7:56 pm

I was a teenager when the closed theatre was converted to retail space – I believe it was Lerner’s. I tried to see what remained of the old theatre through the construction. If my recollection is correct the entire facade of the building was removed. Also, in later years I remember standing on Steinway Street and looking back at the building reinforcing my theory that there was a whole new facade. But that was 50 years ago.

deleted user
[Deleted] on September 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm

The building is still sitting vacant with a “For Rent” sign displayed. The “false front” used by the last tenant remains. Whether any of the original facade exists behind it is unknown. I’ll try contacting the realtor for information.

Bway on May 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

Here’s a street view from google of the Steinway:

View link

GerardC on February 19, 2009 at 4:06 am

I had thought the thread for this theatre was not active, but I see it is. Growing up in Astoria, I always knew this was a “movie house” (as my parents / grand parents described it.) But for me it was “Learners” , a woman’s / little kid’s store (they had a kid’s department as well).. I know I spent alot of time here when I was little! It was a big store inside, without a hint it was a theatre, I guess thanks to plaster board and dropped ceilings. Talking about the white marble facade.. that was not original to the Steinway theatre. I believe that was part of the late fifties change to “Learners”. Up untill Learners closed, the front of the building was very 50’s looking with a smooth white front with a HUGE LEARNERS neon sign on a 45 degree angle running up the front of the building (lit up in pink neon)I am sure, from viewing photos of the Steinway that the front was destroyed in the original make over to retail. (about the interior, I would not know. In my time (70’s) it was all dropped ceiling.) When they re-opened as DR.Jays, It was all open structure inside. IE exposed brick and I beams. but if you were to walk to the back of the store and go up stairs to the second level, you were walking up through the “ Fly space.” You could /can see a ladder bolted to the wall going up to the roof, you could see, in your minds eye (with help from some bricks and beams, where the auditorium ended and the back stage began.

johndereszewski on February 8, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Warren, your last comments just confirm my previous points. Thank’s for your support.

johndereszewski on February 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm

As of yesterday, when I walked by, the apparently never ending “lost our lease” sale remains going strong at Dr. Jay’s. When viewed from across the street, you can really see the skin of a once beautiful facade struggling to burst from its ugly body armor.

I think Warren is probably correct that the future history of this building will be commercial and that, save for the not very likely appearance of a replacement tenant, the site will probably lie vacant until the economy begins to turn north. The structure is really good and ample commercial space that is situated less than a block from the shopping district’s heart at Broadway. Thus, it would make little sense to replace the current building with another commercial facility, and the mid-block site is just too commercial for residential development. Also, if something other than another crummy outlet moves in, the possible replacement of the current facade – possibly with the original – could be a real possibility. But, we will have to see what unfolds.

Alex, I really appreciated your kind comments about my remembrances of the Triboro that I posted about a year ago. It is great to once again make your acquaintance.

AlexNYC on January 31, 2009 at 4:27 pm

That’s wishful thinking Warren, I hope you’re right. More likely is that they will just tear the building down altogether and build another multiple-story monstrosity as they have been doing these last few years in Astoria.

AlexNYC on July 8, 2007 at 5:53 pm

I was recently looking at various vintage Queens photos online and came across this wintery image of Steinway Street in Astoria from 1935, which includes in gthe center a moving northbound trolley. Looking further, I was delighted to see on the left the rare image the marquee of the Steinway Theatre. On the right at the intersection of 31st Avenue is the building which was occupied by Woolworth’s for several decades.

View link

k2ds on April 9, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Warren you ARE RIGHT.. Man it sucks to get old….
They say the mind is the second thing to go.
I forgot what the first thing was.. LOL….

frankdev on April 9, 2007 at 2:03 pm

There was a Steinway Theatre now a DR. Jays but it was closed down in the 50’s. At one time we had three theatres on Steinway The UA Astoria on 30th ave The Loews Triboro on 28th ave and Steinway and the Cameo Steinway between 25thave and 28th ave on Steinway. The Cameo changed its name to the Olympia Then it became a porno theater.

Bway on April 9, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Hahaha, I used to remember that in the 70’s at the Ridgewood Theater when it was still one large theater. You would be watching a movie and all of a sudden daylight would flood the auditorium and kids would be running in from the left side doors…

k2ds on April 9, 2007 at 11:53 am

I have got to correct one thing. The dates.
I was the manager of the Steinway Theater from 1970 until 1972 working for United Artists. So I know for a fact that it didn’t close in the 50’s.
It was a wonderful house to work in. All the old dressing rooms backstage and the organ in the orchestra pit that at the time still worked. I can still remember carrying those film cans with 4 & 5 reels up to the booth. UP 4 flights. No elevator!!!
I saw someone mentioned the side door; I use to go through hell keeping the kids from sneaking in that way. They would get together and pool their money and buy one ticket.
That person would watch the ushers and when the time was right they would open that side door and the whole world would come rushing in.

Bway on January 4, 2007 at 7:05 am

I probably did also pass the Steinway…in fact I must have, as I was on Steinway St from the Grand Central all the way down to two blocks past Broadway (forgot the cross street off hand). However, I wasn’t “theater fanning”, so had no idea until I got home and looked at Cinematreasures how many theaters used to be on Steinway St…and Astoria in general!! I only noticed the Astoria Theatre because of the marquee…..
Thanks for the information!

Bway on January 3, 2007 at 9:25 pm

I was on Steinway St today, and past what I think is a theater. It wasn’t the Steinway, because the building didn’t look like the current photos posted of Dr Jay’s. Anyway, the building I saw today, has a marquee, is somewhere north of Broadway, and is on the west side of Steinway St. It is currently a Duane Reade Drug Store.
ANyone have any idea what theater I was looking at?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 23, 2006 at 8:30 pm

Here are the photos I had posted back in September of last year (the old links no longer work):

Facade – 8/2005
Facade long shot – 8/2005

Haven’t been on this page in a long while… Interesting to look back at a time when Warren and Lost Memory were more civil – dare I say amicable – with each other.

AlexNYC on August 23, 2006 at 6:14 pm

Wow Warren, you’re a plethora of information, not to mention a never ending stream of ads and images. Thanks so much.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 7, 2005 at 11:18 am

Here are a couple of current shots of the former Steinway. Warren… if you look at the 2nd shot, you’ll see that the false Dr. Jay front goes right to the brick of the side wall, sadly spelling out what appears to be the complete the obliteration of any original terra cotta work:

View link

View link

frankdev on April 18, 2005 at 3:46 am

Iwas born and still live in astoria, I always knew about the beauty of the triboro, but nothing of the steinway. As a theater manager i wish there were photos.astrocks astoria ny

AlexNYC on January 17, 2005 at 9:32 pm

The listed address above is incorrect. The correct address of Steinway Theater was 31-08 Steinway Street. After the theater closed in the late 1950’s it became the location of Lerner’s Store, a women’s clothing chain. It was the largest store in the Astoria, it even had a side entrance/exit on 31st Avenue. When I was a kid in the 1960s my siblings and I used to play hide & seek in the store while my mom shopped. I recall once a woman told my mom that the store used to be a theater, it’s amazing the little things one remembers after so many years. Back then it was also the only chain store on Steinway Street, all the other stores were privately owned mom & pop small business stores. Lerner’s lasted there at least 30 years. It closed in the early 1990s it has been Dr.Jay’s sportswear store until present.

Greenpoint on August 12, 2004 at 3:56 am

Wow so much history! I have been shopping at Dr Jays for years and years, and never in a million years would have ever considered that that store was a former movie theatre.