A Tour of Albany's Bygone Movie Theaters

Tour curated by: Rebecca Kurtz

Since the time that movie theaters began to emerge in the final years of the nineteenth century, they have grown into one of the most popular and prominent venues in the entertainment industry. The multi-screen movie theaters that we know today, often operated by chains, such as Regal or AMC, deviate greatly from those that existed up until even the mid to late twentieth century. Older movie theaters were built to create a memorable overall experience that extended beyond the viewing of a film. They would often include ornate architecture, sumptuous lounges, and one large theater. This tour will explore the many opulent theaters that once existed in Albany, but were closed down in lieu of theaters that boasted multiple screens and that were able to show more movies to more people simultaneously.

Locations for Tour

The Arbor Theater, which was located at 69 North Swan Street at Second Street in Albany, was an aesthetically pleasing, yet short lived, movie theater. The theater first opened its doors on April 1, 1916 as a single screen, one thousand seat movie…

This single screen theater was located at 11 Clinton Avenue in Albany, directly across the street from the still existent and operational Palace Theater, which was opened in 1931. The Grand Theater predated the Palace Theater, as it was originally…

Born in 1811, Harmanus Bleecker was the grandson of a Dutch Colonial Era mayor in Albany who made his own name as a lawyer, member of the House of Representatives, and ambassador to the Netherlands. When Bleecker died in 1848, he left his estate to…

Located at 1365 Washington Avenue in Albany, the Hellman Movie Theater was constructed and opened in 1960. It was the very last single screen movie theater to be built in Albany. The man who built the theater was Neil Hellman, a well known local…

The Leland Theater operated as a movie theater from 1906 until the early 1960's. However, prior to 1906, the site on which the theater would eventually stand, on 43 South Pearl Street in Albany, underwent a number of changes. The building was…

Like so many other movie theaters that existed in Albany during the twentieth century, the Ritz Theater, which was located at 21 South Pearl Street, was constructed in a building that had originally been built to serve other purposes. Prior to the…

Opened in 1928 on Hudson Avenue and Eagle Street (for which it is named) in Albany, the Eagle Movie Theater was housed in a defunct arsenal that was originally constructed in 1858, during the Antebellum period. The arsenal was changed to the status…

The Strand Theater was opened on November 9, 1920 on North Pearl Street, across from where the Capital Repertory Theater is currently located. At the time of its opening, the Strand was advertised as being "New York State's most beautiful…