HYBRID AT THE EARLE, Jackson Heights

by Kevin Walsh

In November 2021 I lit off for a walk through Elmhurst that wound me up at the Mets-Willets Point Long Island Rail Road station in Flushing Meadows, which I’ve found to be incredibly convenient and a feature I hope is retained when the Covid Pandemic ends, if it ever does. My starting point was the 74th Street station of the 7 train, which lets you off at the crowded and jammed intersection of Broadway and Roosevelt where they meet at 73rd Street. Therefrom, a side street, 37th Road, runs for a couple of blocks.

It was there that I spotted a subway entrance of which I hadn’t been previously aware. Here the E,F,M,R subway runs underground and a free transfer to the clattering El is effected. And I also spotted an unusual infrastructural hybrid. Here is an ancient NYC street vent, placed here to release miasmic subway vapors into the clear air, where they can be dispersed. I recognized it immediately as a Giraffe (CHIME-4904) as seen on FNY’s street vent classification. But here an additional element has been added: a subway indicator! I’ve never seen this combo before and it makes tremendous sense. It’s a “green” indicating the entrance is open for swiping (and tapping, soon enough) 24/7.

Pulling back a bit, the contours of the old Earle Theatre, later the Eagle, can be seen, built in 1938 in a Moderne style. It was a first-run theater for many years until sinking into disrespectability as a porno palace by 2001; later it showed “Bollywood” films in this neighborhood featuring residents hailing and descending from people from the Indian Subcontinent. After 2009 the films left and the building has hosted several food courts since, presently the Ittadi Garden and Grill.

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Ron S January 8, 2022 - 12:00 pm

My wife was an elementary school teacher, and her student wrote a funny composition about a family trip to the Eagle Theater. Later I realized it was the old (former porno)
Earle, and I was impressed by the ease at which you could rename it by changing one letter.

Patrick January 9, 2022 - 5:27 am

I remember back when, the 7 train platform only had one exit to connect with the E, F, G and R. It was at the west end of the platform. The lines to get down the stairs were abysmal. You really needed to know to be situated to get down stairs quickly. They eventually rebuilt the main station entrance with second connection in the middle of the platform.

Also remember the original above ground landing of the original connection place had a pretzel stand first then a donut stand at the bottom of the Manhattan bound stairs and at the top of the escalators. A favorite snack while changing trains during highschool.

John January 9, 2022 - 10:35 am

Some of the vents are for the sewers/storm drains. Like indoor plumbing, they need to be vented to drain properly.

Joe Fliel January 10, 2022 - 5:42 pm

Back in the ’70s, there was a record store located in the mezzanine. It was called Arcade Records, which specialized in oldies, and was owned by Roy Adams, who was
one of the original partners involved with Downstairs Records. Downstairs Records was originally located right down the stairs of the 42nd St.-Bryant Park subway entrance on Sixth Ave., between W. 42nd & W. 43rd. Streets. I bought many rare records at these two stores.

P-j Greiner April 5, 2022 - 11:38 am

Also in that mezzanine area was a coin shop, perhaps named “Alice’s”? As a young numismatist who used that subway exit, I quickly found out that the older couple who ran the shop must not have updated the prices on the stock very often. A keen-eyed customer could get a few bargains if you took the time to look through the stacks of coins.

Rich T January 11, 2022 - 6:47 pm

Used that subway entrance many times from 1969-1973 when I was going to Msgr. McClancy HS down on 37th ave. Around the corner I would catch a TriBoro Coach bus for the trip down to the school. Great memories, thanks for posting.


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