Please click on the above banner to visit our sponsor

Survey No. 5: At the Movies

Going to movies was certainly the most popular form of entertainment for those who grew up in the boroughs, and theaters like the RKO Keith and the Loew's Valencia, with their large screens and enormous auditoriums hold a special place in the hearts of many. Disappointingly, this poll received a very lukewarm response compared to that from the Bronx and Brooklyn. In the days before the multiplexes, before the micro-screens and the thundering Dolby stereo sound, there were the single-screened, second-run local movie houses. For Queensfolk, the movie experience was apparently more of an outing than an escape from the hot and dreary tenements. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The total number of unique, usable responses was 94.

When you lived in Queens, how frequently did you go to the movies?

Rarely (less than once/month)1314%
Regularly (once or twice/month)6165%
Often (once/week or more)2021%

Where was the theater that you usually went to?

Right around the corner44%
In the neighborhood5154%
A short ride away2729%
On the other side of Queens89%
In another borough22%
Out of town22%

What was the name of the movie theater in Queens that you most frequently attended?

We received a fair number of different responses for this question, so rather than provide counts, I'll just list the theater names. I can't verify that all of these theaters existed or were located in Queens, so forgive me if any don't belong here.

Cross BayFresh MeadowsGlen OaksHaven
LaureltonMain StreetMidwayPark
ParsonsPixProspectRichmond Hill
RKO AldenRKO KeithRKO JamaicaRKO Strand

What was the name of your favorite Queens movie theater?

Unlike the responses from the other boroughs (The Paradise for the Bronx, and The King for Brooklyn) Queens did not seem to have one significantly preferred theater. More than half of the responses were spread across six theaters, which I'll list here:

  1. Loew's Valencia
  2. RKO Keith
  3. Midway
  4. Main Street
  5. Cross Bay
  6. Fresh Meadows

Did you typically go to a specific movie theater because a particular movie was playing, or did you simply go and see whatever was playing?

Went because a particular movie was playing4548%
Went "just to go" and see whatever was playing3537%
Sometimes one, sometimes the other1213%
Not Sure22%

Did you typically find out the schedule and arrive for a complete show, or more often arrive "in the middle"?

Usually went according to the schedule6165%
Usually went at whatever time was convenient3133%
Not Sure22%

What features of your favorite Queens movie theater made you like it so much?
(Multiple answers were allowed, so the sum of percentages will exceed 100.)

that agreed
Price of admission4043%
Ambience and atmosphere5255%
Variety of movies, shorts, cartoons, etc.5457%
Proximity to home7681%
Matrons and Ushers33%
Candy counter4043%
Air conditioning3234%
Sitting in the balcony6064%
Screen size2527%
Comfort of the seats2223%
Opulence of the interior3234%

Here's a sampling of some "other" favorite attributes:

Do you think local Queens movie theaters were different from local theaters anywhere?


Here's a few reasons that accompanied the "Yes" responses:

And here's a comment that perhaps sums up the "No" responses:

If it were available today, do you think you could sit through two features, coming attractions, shorts, catroons, and a newsreel?

ResponsesPercentage (of responses)
Not Sure1516%

It seems that Queens moviegoers were punctual, but didn't have a strong neighborhood affiliation with their theaters. They travelled further to get to the movies, and there were fewer theaters than in the Bronx and Brooklyn. This supports the obvious notion of Queens as a suburban area rather than an inner city enclave.

Finally, someone mentioned the fact that in days of yore you could see the movies over again if you wanted to. That's where the phrase "This is where we came in" originated, isn't it? I wonder what would happen now if I hung out after the end of Men In Black and told the guy with the Jimmy Fund can that "I missed the first five minutes and I'm waiting for the next show to start"...

Thanks again for participating. Our next survey topic will be Street Games.

[Return to The Queens Board]

©1997 SofTech Consulting
Chappaqua, N.Y.