Hudson Heights Weather

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Save The Coliseum!

Save the Coliseum!
We first noted the closing of The Coliseum in November.  Since then, a facebook page has been started in honor of saving and revitalizing historic building.  The theatre was built on the site of the old Blue Bell Tavern after it was razed in 1915.  A blog dedicated to the intersection of 181st & Broadway states that "in 1917 show business impresario BS Moss bought the property to build the city's biggest showplace which he aptly named BS Moss' Coliseum.According to an excellent post on Cinema Treasures, "the Coliseum Theatre boasted to be the third largest theatre in the United States, with 3,500 seats, when it opened in 1920."  In 1968, it's interior was praised by the New York Times in a movie review:
"The R.K.O. Coliseum is one of the most handsome movie theaters in New York. It is well kept, and it has a lovely oval opening, surrounded with a wooden railing, from which it is possible to look down from the balcony onto the first floor."
You can check out a documentary about the theater here. However, the Coliseum wasn't the only movie theatre in the neighborhood.  There was also a cinema on Wadsworth between 180th & 181st that apparently opened in 1913!

There's clearly a rich history of films and entertainment in Washington Heights and a group of concerned neighborhood residents (this blogger included) is very interested in the preservation of a cultural destination in Upper Manhattan.

A Photo Retrospective of The Coliseum

1922: Just a year later the theatre would be purchased by RKO and at the time was the biggest movie theatre in Manhattan.
Photo via 181st & Broadway Blog

1935: The theater at its heyday.  (In 1930, Bob Hope performed here!)

To see photos from 1935, visit this Flickr account:


1986: The property had been split up into multiple storefronts and transformed into a triplex in the early 80s.
American Classic Images

American Classic Images

Present day:
photo via Cinema Treasures
Do you want to see the Coliseum saved?  Join the Facebook group and stay in the know!


  1. The least you can do is say Hudson Heights a part of Washington Heights in northern Manhattan.

    I can't stand revisionism that is designed to empower select individuals.

  2. Where the hell is Hudson Heights? The Gazette needs to get a grip and stop the madness...this is and will always be Washington Heights!!!!

  3. Dear Readers,

    I appreciate the frustration with the real estate community's efforts to "re-brand" certain neighborhoods to support irrational prices and unbridled gentrification. If the Gazette hasn't been sensitive enough about these issues, we will be more careful in the future.

    The fact is, however, the name "Hudson Heights" has taken on a life of its own. Residents of all shapes and stripes use the term and it accurately describes our location. By the same token, the neighborhood "Fort George" survives only as the name of a post office. Names do, for better or worse, change.

    Chris Rizzo

  4. New website of Washington Heights Arts & Movies ("WHAM-NYC"), a group dedicated to saving/transforming the Coliseum Theater (and a source of information for those not on Facebook) is live now @ Next meeting of WHAM-NYC is Thursday, February 16, at 8 pm at Word Up bookstore (4157 Broadway @ West 176th Street) in Washington/Hudson Heights!

    Jeff Hoppa