Loew's Paradise Theater
2405-2419 Grand Concourse
Loew’s Paradise, the largest and grandest of its local theaters, is a site known to generations of Bronxites who came here to watch first-run featured films. Opened in 1929, architect John Eberson designed the auditorium of the single-screen theater with artificial trees, plantings and birds to create the outdoor feeling of a baroque Italian garden. The fantasy was reinforced by the theater’s use of machine-generated simulated clouds, set against a twinkling “sky” of precise January constellations. During his career, Eberson built over 500 atmospheric theaters in the South and Mid-West before creating what some think was his masterpiece in the Bronx. Entering the Loew’s theater was always a singular experience comparable to being in an elaborate 17th century palace, complete with chandeliers, statuary, murals, paintings, balustrades, urns, fountains, a grand staircase and a high-ceilinged foyer.
When the theater first opened it featured live stage shows and a movie. While the live shows had a short run, the movies continued and were a staple in Bronx entertainment. By the 1ate 1960s the theater was competing for its audience with television and the suburbs. New uses were being sought for the theater, such as: graduations, rock concerts and other performances. By the 1970s, ticket sales at the theater were declining and its space was divided into twin theaters, and then four-screen theaters. The theater went into decline and finally closed in 1994. Securing the necessary financing to reopen proved difficult. By 2005, though, the theater came back to life. Original statuary, decorative furniture and chandeliers, hidden behind false walls and dropped ceilings, were restored to their original splendor. The 3,800-seat theater once again became an entertainment venue; and the grand re-opening showcased entertainment headliners Milly Quezada and Gilbert Santa Rosa. On site professional kitchen facilities can now even support catered events held at the theater.
Designated a New York City Landmark in 2006, further information about the theater can be found at its website: http://www.theparadisetheater.com
Janet Butler Munch
Lehman College Art Gallery