The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre opened in 1929 and is located across the street from the Journal Square PATH train station. Lauren and Rich are already married, but they got dressed up in their wedding attire and invited a bunch of photographers to join them for a night at the theatre. I took the shots I wanted and everyone took turns since there were a lot of us. You can see my exploration of the theatre below the formals.
From the Landmark’s history page:
“Once upon a time, the great film studios of old Hollywood built theatres the like of which no one had ever seen before. They had marble columns that soared to ceilings covered in gold leaf, bronze railings, rich red tapestries and plush carpets. And they were huge, with thousands of seats.
These buildings seemed more like palaces than theatres. Not surprisingly, they came to be called Movie Palaces.
In spite of their name, Movie Palaces were as much legitimate theatres as cinemas. They were equipped with full stages, orchestra pits and dressing rooms, as well as projectors. Because in that long ago time the still-new movies were presented as part of a double bill with live stage shows of elaborately choreographed dance revues or a mix of song, dance and comedy acts — variety shows once known as Vaudeville.
Most Movie Palaces were also fitted with massive pipe organs. Originally intended to add sound to silent films, these instruments became stars in themselves as organ concerts, as well as audience sing-alongs, became popular parts of the regular programming in many Movie Palaces.
The reason the Hollywood studios built the Movie Palaces was an insight as bold as it was simple: that the theatre building itself should be so spectacular as to become essentially the opening act for the show on the stage or screen, and that together Movie Palace and show would make an uplifting and unforgettable experience.
This insight, in turn, was itself the product of something that can be called “the art of American entertainment” — a combination of artistry and showmanship that melded the performing arts traditions of the diverse peoples who had come to this country into a new democratic idiom that not only entertained us, but expressed our collective hopes and fears and dreams so dynamically that the entertainment arts became the single greatest instrument in enabling Americans to come together, imagine and re-imagine ourselves, and define our American Experience to the world.
So it was that spectacular Movie Palaces were built across the country in the 1920s. And the public flocked to them.
The elaborate designs of the Movie Palaces were often based on the grand opera houses and palaces of Europe. But the Movie Palaces were unabashedly American in spirit, and unlike their Old World antecedents, were not built for a privileged elite, but for everyone. The banker and the shop girl sat side by side in the Palaces and were equally entertained.
The Loew’s Jersey opened its polished brass doors on September 28, 1929. Journal Square, Jersey City was a regional crossroads with a stop on the “Tubes” subway line that ran between New York and Newark; scores of regional bus and trolley lines also converged there. Two other theatres were already doing business in Journal Square, along with some of the area’s finest shops and restaurants.
Built at what was then the impressive sum of $2 million dollars, the Loew’s was accurately called as “the most lavish temple of entertainment in New Jersey”. It was also one of the state’s biggest theatres, with just under 3,100 seats. And the Loew’s was also one of the best equipped theatres of its day. It was fitted with an arbor and metal cable counter-weight rigging system in its 80 foot high rigging loft, the same kind of system still in use in Broadway’s older houses. The stage lighting equipment was state of the art for 1929, having ten pre-sets. The Theatre’s stage was large for its day, measuring an average 35 feet deep by 82 feet wide, with a proscenium opening of an amazingly wide 50 feet. The orchestra pit included a main elevator plus a second one dedicated exclusively to the piano; overall, it was large enough for 40 musicians. The Loew’s backstage area included ten dressing rooms and a large rehearsal space. And of course, there was the projection booth, originally equipped with VitaPhone sound-on-disk projectors — the first commercially successful “talking picture” equipment.”