Thanks to reader Grand Street for calling our attention to the New York Times' recent slide show of city movie palaces--after they've become chain stores.
For the second time in a week, the paper manages to find someone who loves chains so much they want more and more. The first time was a newcomer to Williamsburg, a woman who loves Duane Reade and begs the universe, “Please, can you bring in Dunkin’ Donuts too. I also want a Bank of America.”
In the movie palace slide show, the Times gets a quote from a 24-year-old woman in Greenpoint who said "she was glad the Chopin Theater had become a Starbucks. 'I’m terrified of movie theaters these days because people are getting bedbugs in them,' she said. 'I also like pumpkin spice lattes.'"
Let's take a look back at what she's glad has vanished. The good folks at Cinema Treasures give the history of the Chopin Theater. Formerly the American Theater, hence the eagle, it opened in 1914. By the 1930s there was a billiard hall--and bowling alley--on the second floor. Here it is in 1939 playing 1938's Prison Train.
One commenter to Cinema Treasures recalls, "the American was Greenpoint's premier 'Dish Nite' venue. I do not know the number of plates, saucers and gravy bowls that my mother, grandmother and aunt collected during the 50's and 60's. People in my family are still eating off them!"
(If you don't know from Dish Night at the movies, listen to this lady.)
circa 1960s, American Classic Images
By the early 1970s the Chopin was playing Polish films and running some live shows, including performances by bands like Jay and the Americans. (See Miss Heather's before and after shot.)
from RobertR's photobucket
Before it was a Starbucks it was a Burger King. In the former billiard hall, there was a Polish disco called "Club Exit." The club became rowdy, sometimes violent, and closed in January 2010.
1972, American Classic Images
While undoubtedly many people in Greenpoint are happy to see a Starbucks here instead of the old Chopin, some in the neighborhood still want a movie theater. "Give us a movie house," begs one subway graffitist, a voice crying out in the wilderness.
Photo: New York Shitty