Hiding in Plain Sight: A Nickelodeon on West 207th Street

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501-505 West 207th Street in 1926, NYHS.
501-505 West 207th Street in 1926, NYHS.

On the northwest corner of West 207th Street and Post Avenue, in the shadow of the elevated subway tracks, sits a two story beige brick building with a near-triangular shape.

501 thru 505 West 207th Street in 2016.
501 thru 505 West 207th Street in 2016.

The building on an island-like plot, bordered by West 207th Street, Post Avenue and Tenth Avenue, seems a bit out of place amid the other six to eight story apartment buildings that surround the squat little structure.

501 thru 505 West 207th Street as seen from above via Google Earth.
501 thru 505 West 207th Street as seen from above via Google Earth.

The building, constructed around 1911, was designed originally as a movie house—and if you look at the site from above it is easy to imagine how the irregular plot worked as a theater space.

Post Avenue and West 207th Street in 1926, NYHS (501-505 West 207th seen at right side of photo)
Post Avenue and West 207th Street in 1926, NYHS (501-505 West 207th seen at right side of photo)

In 1939, twenty-eight years after this Inwood nickelodeon opened, architects were called in to give the building a facelift. The architectural firm of Walker, Foley & Smith supervised the conversion of the movie house into retail and residential space.

Upstairs the architects created five two-room apartments where before there had been office space.

The downstairs was converted into a beer garden flanked by several retail spaces.

The exterior,” described in a news account, “has been painted chocolate brown and white, and a colonial entrance has been provided to the apartments on Post Avenue. The two-room apartments have cooking recesses in the living room with complete cooking equipment. Steel casement windows have also been installed.” (New York Sun, February 25, 1939)

In the 1950’s the building was home to an Irish bar called the Tally Ho which was replaced in the 1960’s by another tavern called the Ol’ Shilling. Weekends saw bands from Ireland, like the legendary Wolfe Tones and the Clancy Brothers, playing into the wee hours of the night. According to one myinwood.net reader children were allowed inside to listen as the bands practiced during the day.

The original building burned down in the 1980’s and was replaced with a building of similar shape and size.

501-505 West 207th Street in 2016.
501-505 West 207th Street in 2016.
Graffiti on Tenth Avenue wall of 501-505 West 207th Street in 2016.
Graffiti on Tenth Avenue wall of 501-505 West 207th Street in 2016.

Today this urban misfit houses a barbershop, a fashion store and several other small businesses—Its east facing façade now a popular canvas for local graffiti artists.


1 COMMENT

  1. The picture from 1938 is the way it looked when we moved across the street at the corner of Post and 207th St. 130 Post to be exact in 1942. That is the bank on the left side and down from it you can see part of an empty lot. We kids played in there all the time. We had so much freedom then and as small as we were we could ask an adult “Miss or Mr, can you cross me?

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