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See it: the 100-year-old Coliseum theater in Washington Heights is now mostly rubble

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

The B.S. Moss Coliseum in 1921. DeRosa & Pereira, architecture. White Studio, photography.
The B.S. Moss Coliseum in 1921. DeRosa & Pereira, architecture. White Studio, photography.

On what would have been its 100th anniversary, the Coliseum theater at 4260-4261 Broadway and 181st Street in Washington Heights is now mostly rubble.

Demolition began earlier this year, and only a few small pieces of the facade remained standing this past weekend.

A listing with Zelnick & Company Real Estate shows a rendering of a new four-story retail building that could rise on the busy corner.

The Coliseum building in Washington Heights in early 2019.
The Coliseum building in early 2019.

Built in 1920, the 3,462-seat structure opened as the B.S. Moss Coliseum Theatre and was later taken over by RKO. In its heyday the space hosted vaudeville acts including the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields.

In 1934 it became a full-time movie theater, and in the 1980s a triplex, then a quad cinema. It closed for good in October 2011.

The demolition of Coliseum Cinemas is almost complete.

A grass roots group tried saving the building, but by 2015 the new plans were already in motion.

The Coliseum Cinemas' Yelp listing is still up, and worth a scroll.

One sample review: "A co-worker who grew up in Washington Heights told me of the grand majesty that used to be Coliseum Theaters. Any glitz and sparkle that used to be has been covered up with faded and ripped movie posters from years past; I believe I walked past a "Fred Claus" advertisement on my way to see "Hangover 2". Still, the feel of yesteryears remain in a muted sense..."

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