Grand Central’s Little Known Newsreel Theater

Emily over at IRidetheHarlemLine has a great initiative going where she features a memorable Grand Central Terminal photo each day, having started a hundred days out from the iconic station’s centennial.

Today, Emily delves into some little know history about the Terminal’s cozy but opulent former theater (or, as Grand Central referred to it, a “theatre”).

The theatre itself is also not often mentioned, though it was a part of the Terminal from 1937, and lasted about three decades. The 242-seat theatre had an early version of what would now be called stadium-style seating, produced by the Irwin Seating Company (which is still making stadium seating to this day!), and standing room in the back.

Different from the movie theatres we are accustomed to today, the Grand Central Theatre was a newsreel theatre ā€“ it played various short bits of news, documentaries, and even cartoons. A theatre of this type was perfect for the Terminal in its day ā€“ people waiting for their long distance trains could spend the extra moments until their train in the theatre. All the shorts were played continuously, so you could duck in and out whenever your train schedule required. Above the screen an illuminated clock displayed the time for those people on a schedule.

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