September 21, 2010

Photo Essay: Inside Governors Island: Fort Jay Movie Theater

Part II of III

For me, the pièce de résistance of my most recent visit to Governors Island was the opportunity to get inside its movie theater, whose exterior façade, despite looking relatively institutional, always piqued my interest. 

Like our tour leader, photographer Lisa Kereszi, I'm particularly interested in vacant—if not abandoned—recreational locales, like amusement parks, theme parksswimming pools, boardwalksyacht clubs and World's Fair pavilions

And after skulking around the outside of the RKO Keith theater in Flushing, Queens, I was ready to get access to the inside of a movie theater.


Unlike the barracks or the Officer's Club which I also photographed during this visit, the movie theater—as you might expect—was dark.

Ticket booth floor, through interior door slats

There were light and power switches everywhere.

And fortunately, the aisle lights were still working, pulsating through a rainbow of colors.

The overhead lights inside the theater...

...illuminated the ceiling debris that had fallen onto the dark red theater seats.

The projection room was even darker, until I found a work light to switch on.

Crawlspace above projection room

Screen, as seen from the projection room

The projection room turned out to be a treasure trove of knobs, meters, switches and equipment that would have been cool to see - and photograph - even while in operation.

I could have stayed in there much longer, but, with a security guard tapping his foot outside, I had to be ushered out nearly as quickly as I was ushered in.

The smell of popcorn was long gone, as the theater had been reclaimed by mustiness and an overwhelming scent of carpeting. But still, there's something always magical about movie theaters, which function as a kind of socially-acceptable funhouse for adults and children alike, to scare you, romance you, inform you and entrance you, long after you've exited through the theater doors...

For Part I in the series, click here.
For Part II in the series, click here.

1 comment:

  1. I saw Harry James and his band in this theater. At the end of his concert the drummer let me help him move his set to the enlisted mens club next door. He gave me a set of drum sticks as a thank you. Harry James was stationed here when he was in the Army and wanted to give us Coast Guard families a tribute concert. Garry Harwood (son of Lt. Phillip Harwood SAR Control Atlantic Region)