Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vanishing City: Alarming, But In Your Backyard!

Hats off to the production team of Vanishing City, a film which highlights dominant neighborhood controversies citywide, "told through the eyes of tenants, city planners, business owners, scholars, and politicians. We are facing alarming issues, which will only intensify if we don't develop a voice in our city's future:

1. Overdevelopment
2. Loss of our historic resources, which give our neighborhoods a culture & aesthetic beauty
3. The growing elimination of the middle class
4. Eminent domain abuse
5. Loss of small businesses


What made our city distinctive and unique for decades is disappearing, but it is still not too late for you to have a voice. To learn more about their mission, visit  and see the trailer. If you agree with the premise of the film, you can make a tax deductible donation. Their e-mail is

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ridgewood Theatre Facade Earns Individual Landmark Status on 1/12/10 & The Broader Picture

The Individually Landmarked 1916 Ridgewood Theatre!

The broader picture by Michael Perlman, Chairman of Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, in affiliation with Rego-Forest Preservation Council....

After attending the Landmarks Preservation Commission 1/12/10 Public Meeting, I am elated to report that the historic Ridgewood Theatre was unanimously voted by commissioners as an Individual Landmark! A nearly 2-year effort under Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre as Chairman (since March 2008), in affiliation with various preservation and cultural groups, members of Cinema Treasures, elected officials, and a mass audience, truly paid off! I extend my thanks to the broad coalition of supporters, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission for doing the right thing on behalf of the people.

The LPC Commissioners vote on the Ridgewood Theatre facade
in the public hearing room

The Ridgewood Theatre landmarking cause can be perceived as a case study, from the theater's sudden closure to the hearing and public meeting, through the theater's future. It represents a new and intriguing 21st century chapter in the theater's extensive, varied, and distinctive history dating back to 1916, considering that it was deemed the "longest continuosuly operating first-run theater countrywide" upon its closure." It emphasizes the ideal of progress for an "ultimate public institution," and exemplifies how the public can work cohesively and effectively with each other, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Landmarks Preservation Commission's Chair Robert Tierney expresses his pride in a "Queens" site!

Hopefully, the Ridgewood Theatre's Individual Landmark status will set off a chain reaction of more Individual Landmarks and Historic Districts in Queens, stemming from our advocacy and the LPC's calendaring of properties for a public hearing (most democratic when it results from the consensus of the majority of citywide citizens). Many dormant preservationists emerged from the woodwork, and established bonds. In the coming months, many more Queens properties will be proposed for landmarking.

Ridgewood Theatre's Ornate Lobby

Although the Ridgewood Theatre facade is now safeguarded as an Individual Landmark, it is also highly significant for Interior Landmark status to be extended to Architect Thomas Lamb's mostly intact theater lobby. Lisi DeBourbon of the Landmarks Preservation Commission said the LPC cannot consider that at this time, since interior spaces must be customarily open to the public upon review. However, Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre in affiliation with Rego-Forest Preservation Council, hopes the owners will respect and restore the mostly intact theater lobby, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission will consider extending designation in the near future. We must also make sure that the Ridgewood Theatre remains in a good state of preservation in the long-term. It is essential to continue to be proactive, and have a voice in city government.

Cameos with angelic muses in theater lobby

How You Can Further Help:

Please visit, take action, and forward these links to your friends and colleagues:

1. Join Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre MySpace Page:

2. Sign & comment on Ridgewood Theatre Petition requesting Individual Landmark status (granted) and also requests Interior Landmark status (comment on Architect Thomas Lamb's theater lobby):

 3. Visit the Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre Flickr Photoset:

Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre hopes to further assist the owners preservation-wise and for its reopening, so patrons can take a front seat!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Please Attend/Cover: Jan 12th, Historic Ridgewood Theatre May Earn Landmark Status at LPC Public Meeting!

The majority of our historic theaters merit landmarking and adaptive & creative reuse throughout Queens, as they are few & far between, and cornerstones of our American history. Even though this is a predominantly a Rego Park/Forest Hills blog, let's acknowledge the broad picture, and learn how to strategize and volunteer. Sit back, relax, and check out A Case Study in Landmarking now showing at the Ridgewood Theatre. Did I get your hopes up? Read on to see how it can become a reality.............and don't recline too much. Be a proactive community player!

Nearly 2-Year Landmarking Cause In The Making, Boils Down To 1 Day: Commissioners To Vote on Historic Ridgewood Theatre

 RIDGEWOOD, NY (Jan 12, 2010) – Queens’ historic Ridgewood Theatre (55-27 Myrtle Ave) closed its doors in March 2008 without warning, but patrons & preservationists are now elated that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a Public Meeting, where Commissioners will vote whether to designate the theater as Queens’ newest Individual Landmark (façade). The Public Meeting for the Ridgewood Theatre (Agenda Item #3, LP-2325) is set for Tues, January 12, 2010 from 10:15 AM – 10:25 AM at the Municipal Building, 1 Centre St, 9th Floor North, NY, NY 10007:  

A hearing was held on March 24, 2009 as a result of a Request For Evaluation form and research, a letter campaign, a petition drive, and a MySpace Group coordinated by Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, which was founded by Preservationist Michael Perlman after the theater’s closure in 2008. Testimony in support of Individual Landmark status was diverse and abundantly positive, and also included written testimony from Thomas A. Lamb, the great-grandson of Architect Thomas W. Lamb, who was tracked down by Chair Perlman. Co-owner Mario Saggese expressed his support for landmarking the façade, and also said the owners envision a historically-sensitive plan for the downstairs auditorium space consisting of retail to make it economically viable, with modern screens upstairs.

Opening its doors on December 23, 1916 and closing in March 2008, the Ridgewood Theatre was deemed “the longest continuously operating first-run neighborhood theater citywide, and potentially throughout the U.S.” It staged Vaudeville, silent films, saw the advent of photoplays, the first ‘100% All-Talking’ feature, Lights of New York (1928), & Technicolor. Its original seating capacity was 2,500, but currently contains 5 screens and seats 1,950.

Modeled after Times Square’s long-demolished Mark Strand Theatre (the World’s 1st movie palace), the $250,000 Classical Revival gem was designed by America’s foremost theater architect, Thomas White Lamb, & built by the Levy Brothers. The 3-story Indiana limestone & terra cotta façade is highly ornate, incorporating unique geometric patterns, medallions, a frieze, pilasters, and proudly boasts Ridgewood Theatre across the top. Interior murals originally depicted the history of Ridgewood.

Perlman explains: “Theaters are the ‘ultimate public institutions’ which bridge the generations, as they foster community growth and pride, harbor countless memories, and often exhibit the work of our country’s most skillful architects. Commissioned architects hoped to leave a long-lasting impression of grandeur, confidence, serenity, and comfort; a bold step away from the pressures of society.”

Perlman further explains “With the onset of DVDs, and vastly improved home entertainment centers, movie theaters with a minimal number of screens are a highly endangered species citywide. When sacrificed in the name of progress, their loss is most heartfelt. Local theaters with an unfortunate fate include the Oasis, Parthenon, Irving, & RKO Madison Theatre (retail), but the Ridgewood Theatre can be economically viable if preserved and adaptively reused for theater-related purposes. It would contribute to an up & coming neighborhood and a diverse borough.”

Historic & Recent Ridgewood Theatre Photos, courtesy of Chair Michael Perlman, Friends of Ridgewood Theatre:

Online Petition:

Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre MySpace Group:

After a nearly 2-year preservation cause, let's remain hopeful the Landmarks Preservation Commission will do what's right on behalf of Queens residents, countrywide theater buffs, and for history's sake; to educate future generations while paying homage to the best of our past! We shall see on January 12, 2010.

2010 Contract To Preservationists: Will YOU Make The Grade?


To Friends of Rego-Forest Preservation Council & PRESERVATION:

After serious & cautious consideration... your contract of friendship has been renewed for the New Year 2010! It was a very hard decision to make... So try not to screw it up!!! My Wish for You in 2010............

1. May peace break into your home and may thieves come to steal your debts.

2. May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.
3. May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!
4. May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy.
5. May the problems you had, forget your home address!

Or... In preservation talk: May 2010 be one of the best years, filled with appreciation for our community's historic character, classic architecture, education, teamwork, cultural diversity, plentiful green space, successful Landmarking & National Register causes, and historic funding opportunities for property owners! Happy New Year!!!