The Trylon Theater In queens Faces
an Uncertain Future
The Trylon Theater at 98-81 Queens
Boulevard in Rego Park is an excellent example of the Art Moderne,
a style that was widely used for movie theaters throughout the country
in the 1930s, but is now rarely encountered in New York City on
buildings of any type. Built in 1939 and attributed to the architect
Joseph Unger, the theater took its name from the centerpiece of
the World’s Fair that debuted that year in Flushing Meadow.
Though the building’s design bears no relation to the three-side
spire that rose beside the Perisphere at the center of the fairgrounds,
the fair’s Trylon is used as an ornamental motif on the movie
theater’s still-intact box office and the name itself conveyed
a sense of cutting-edge modernity. The building’s concave
façade is dominated by a central tower, largely composed
of glass block that was almost certainly illuminated at night, and
by the large semi-circle of the projecting marquee that provides
a counterpoint to the inward curve of the facade. This composition
dominates its commercial block and is truly a neighborhood landmark,
although it remains undesignated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
theater closed just after its 60th anniversary in 1999 and has been
vacant since. The City Council has allocated funds to convert the
building into a community center, a use that HDC sees as entirely
appropriate to this longtime focal point of the Rego Park community.
Unfortunately, nothing is known about the pending design of the
new center. HDC believes that the Trylon’s exterior should
be restored for use by the center and that its interior must be
surveyed to determine if there are elements of importance that could
be reused in the new design. There is widespread support in the
community for protecting the Trylon based both on fond memories
of afternoons and evenings spent at the movies and on its excellent
design. HDC and the Modern Architecture Working Group met with City
Council Member Melinda Katz on May 13 to discuss an appropriate
adaptive reuse strategy.
Please email CM
Katz to voice your support for protecting the Trylon.
In addition, HDC believes that the LPC should ultimately designate
the Trylon. Email Chair
Robert Tierney to let the Commission know you support
designating this important piece of Queens’ history.
For more information, visit the