Uptown Theatre: A glorious sanctuary for some
A beat cop finds escape from his hectic job by caring for the once- opulent showplace — now a darkened cavern sitting empty, waiting for better times
April 25, 2010 BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter
“Here is the Uptown Theatre. It is beyond human dreams of loveliness, rising in mountainous splendor, achieving that overpowering sense of tremendous size and exquisite beauty — a thing that comes miraculously seldom.”– from Balaban & Katz, the theaters original West Side owners, published the year the Uptown opened in 1925.
Stroll past that same theater today just north of Lawrence on Broadway, and youll find a boarded-up front, a marquee blotchy with rust and billowing tarps stretched over a leaky roof.
When the Uptown opened on a hot August day in 1925, thousands of people lined up for a single show. The program that first week included Tchaikovskys Capriccio Italienne performed by The Uptown Theatre Orchestra and “The Lady Who Lied,” a motion picture starring Lewis Stone and Virginia Valli.
These days, only pigeons crowd near the entrance — atop the Spanish Baroque columns.
And yet, on the other side of the plywood, just a few steps beyond the old ticket office, a palace survives — dusty, faded and peeling, but no less opulent.
“It produces that same awe every time I walk in the door,” says David Syfczak, the buildings caretaker, his voice echoing through the grandest of lobbies — lined with massive columns each adorned with lions, maidens and griffins. Light from four street-facing windows ripples across the ceiling some 85 feet above the lobbys marble floor.