Tragedy on Broadway

It’s funny how you stumble on interesting bits in the unlikeliest of places. I was scouting Broadway in Brooklyn, which runs underneath the elevated JMZ train and is basically a series of greasy restaurants, dollar stores, and bodegas.

Broadway Masks - 01

If you look closely, partially covered up by the 99¢ store sign is this really great sculpture, which centers on a tragedy mask. I like how the mask is tied to the garlands through the eye holes.

Broadway Masks - 03

Maybe the building was an old theater before it’s current status as a dollar store? If you look under the awning, you can make out some other details, including what I think is a harp.

Broadway Masks - 04

At least it’s still there. While I’m glad the current owners didn’t just rip this stuff out, it’s too bad that it’s mostly covered up, by a “LOCO 99¢ STORE!!!!” awning no less. I wonder if there’s a comedy mask on the other side.


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  1. thank you for being our magnifying glass. i’ve walked by here more than a few times and never saw it. much appreciation.

  2. You’re right, there used to be a small movie house just around that address. It used to be the kind of discount theater that showed films that had already gone through the first-run neighborhood houses. I think the movie house survived until perhaps the late 70s, maybe later.

  3. This is the same section of street where Bret and Jemaine filmed “Inner City Pressure” in Flight Of The Conchords!

  4. I live near here and have noticed and appreciated that mask, too. An old-timer at Christina’s Diner in Greenpoint told me that all of North Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint) had lots of movie theaters back in the day.

    Did you live in NYC when there was a theater at the corner of Rodney and Broadway? Photo here:

    It was knocked down a few years ago. I tried to join a committee to stop the wrecking ball but alas. The rumor was that it was going to be a religious girls’ school but it has been a whole in the ground for a few years now. Sad, sad, sad. I saw a few movies there – it was only six bucks for first run films.

    Also, the Eckerd Drug Store on Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint is an old ballroom or theater. It’s a large round space on the inside like a roller rink and still has a disco ball hanging in the middle of the ceiling.

  5. It was the Williasburg Theatre.