Thursday, January 14, 2010

Save This Screen Gem: The Venerable Ridgewood Theater Should be Made a Landmark - NY Daily News Editorial

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The Ridgewood Theatre, a jewel of Queens and once the nation's longest continually operating moviehouse, has begun cementing its marquee status as a landmark, having earned that designation from the city Landmarks Preservation Commission. It deserves to go the distance and get all remaining approvals.

The grand building, designed in the Beaux-Arts style by leading theater architect Thomas Lamb - also responsible for the Ziegfeld and Pitkin theaters - opened in 1916.

Crowds of 2,500 would fill the seats to see vaudeville shows, then silent films and, later, photoplays - stories told largely in pantomime with dialogue projected on a large screen. The Ridgewood was witness in July 1928 to the first all-talkie feature, "Lights of New York," and later to the introduction of Technicolor. It served movie lovers all the way through 2008, when it closed.

This is living, breathing history. And, since its owners have plans to reopen, it can also become, in all its grandeur, a part of the city's future.

Good luck to them. In an era of cookie-cutter moviehouses, why shouldn't a few truly regal theaters survive?

But first, make it a landmark.