2012-02-29 / Dining Review

Restore Flushing RKO Keith's

I want to thank the editors of the Queens Gazette for calling attention to the serious neglect of Flushing’s beloved RKO Keith’s.  Although vandalism and decay have robbed the theatre of its earlier splendor, its ornate Spanish Baroque Revival architectural elegance still remains unsurpassed and captures the spirit of a bygone era. It’s a place that holds special memories for generations of people who enjoyed its many offerings.  The greatest performers of the time entertained there.  In the midst of the Great Depression and during WWII, the theatre was a place where people could go to escape their troubles. For the baby boom generation that came after, it was the theatre our parents took us to see our first movie. We walked up the steps of the stage to graduate from school.  We kissed and held the hands of our first loves in the balcony.   As we look back now, we can all remember the last movie we saw there.
Although the fight to save the RKO started 25 years ago – interest has never waned. For the neighborhood’s long-time residents like myself – in fact, it has increased.  After all, a lot has happened in the last 25 years to the landscape of Flushing.  We watched helplessly as self-interested and unscrupulous developers destroyed much of our beloved neighborhood’s natural surroundings and original structures.  Now that so much has been taken, the renovation and refurbishing of the RKO Keith’s takes on an even greater importance.
It would be wonderful for the theatre to come to life again. Another cultural venue like the beautiful Flushing Town Hall would expound on the creative energy that has been thriving on that street for over 30 years and enhance Flushing’s revitalization efforts. It could serve as a catalyst for the growth of business in the area as well as for the emergence of new artists and art forms for future generations. The Flushing RKO Keith’s is more than just a building - it is a symbol that connects the past with the aspirations of the future.
Carol Imandt
Flushing, New York

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