History & Color
The triangle of Pitkin and East New York Avenues and Legion Street was called Zion Park as early as 1911. The Zion Park War Memorial, also known as the Brownsville War Memorial, was created by sculptor Charles Cary Rumsey (1879–1922) and dedicated in 1925. It lists local war heroes who died in World War I. The space was renamed Loew Square in honor of the massive Loew’s Pitkin Theatre (see below) in 1930, but by 1997 the theatre was long shuttered and the name was changed back to Zion Triangle.
|LOEW’S PITKIN THEATREThe magnificent Loew’s Pitkin, taking up an entire block on the avenue between Legion Street and Saratoga Avenue, was built in 1929 by Thomas Lamb and seated 2,827 patrons. Unfortunately, like so many of the grand theatres of the 1920s and 30s, it went out of business in the 1960s and pretty much has been left to deteriorate. It was a church and a department store for awhile.
The Pitkin was the most baroque representative of dozens of theatres in Brownsville. It’s hard to imagine it now, but there was a time when here were as many theaters in a busy neighborhood as there were grocery stores. In this neighborhood alone, there were the Palace, Supreme, Ambassador, People’s Cinema, Livonia, Lyric, Elite, Kinema, Biltmore, Premier, Embassy, Warwick, Adelphi, Gotham, Parkway, New Prospect, Montauk, Brein’s, Penn, Sutter, and Miller; all have disappeared except those whose buildings now hold churches or markets.
|Every fifth lamppost used to have them: you heard them go off at noon every day if you were born in the 50s, as I was.|
|They were placed at the height of the Cold War when there was a Communist under every bed. They were air raid sirens; the Cold War legacy can still be seen on myriad apartment buildings around town that still sport “Fallout Shelter” signs. In reality, an H-bomb would likely flatten the entire northeast, rendering “duck and cover” exercises and fallout shelters superfluous. You’d be dead anyway.I suppose I liked it better when our enemies were more easily identified…
This one was spotted at the Sutter Avenue el station at Livonia Avenue.
|Famous people from Brownsville include Aaron Copland (left), Danny Kaye, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, M.O.P., The RZA and Tony Cai.|