The York Square's Last Marquee
"Thus passes the glory of the world."

Despite misplaced mourning for Gloria Mundi, the movie theatre itself passed away last weekend.

A combination of latin phrases and japanese farewells were placed in the center of the marquee for the final show of letters to grace the block.

After years of wrestling with film distributors, the York Square closed its doors after a small-sized closing reception, attended by its most loyal patrons.

In the 1990s, Steven Speilburg produced the film "Amistad," about a ship that was mutinied by its enslaved cargo, which landed in New Haven harbor in the 1800s. A trial was to follow, and the Africans were set free.

But the film wasn't allowed to be shown to the only theatre in New Haven, because of the monopoly by companies to only release the film to major theatre distributors.

Peter Spodick, the son of the owner, had been operating the cinema since the 1980's. Peter was a lawyer, and took his old skills to work, eventually grabbing the attention of the media by bringing Steven Speilburg to court by suing his film company.

That day in court, Peter apologized because of a recent illness that had befallen a close friend and stated that he was unable to continue arguing the case. The case was closed and cannot ever be opened again.

Neither can the York Square. But if the case was settled, the Cinema would be a vibrant place. Speilburg did in fact owe something to New Haven. Spodick's case rested on legitimate issues, such as lack of public transportation to suburban movie theatres. Steven Speilburg, notably a charitable figure, would have probably been likely to settle if the case was persued.

The York Square, a recognizable landmark feature of downtown New Haven, played movies such as "What about Bob?" , "Life Is Beautiful" , and other films of artistic and intellectual interest. It also featured an art gallery, which had works by great artists such as Marina Korenfeld and many others. It had become, for some time, a showcase of great talent, and the lobby was often a convegence of New Haven's great minds and important citizens.

side note: personal experience

In 1998, i worked at the York Square. My job was the marquee. I remember how amazing it was, that all of its antique equipment was still able to function. Many of the letters that people driving downtown would pass by, were held together with duct tape. L's had to be modified in order to compensate for the diminishing number of F's. Whatever needed to be done, it got done.

But one thing that was rarely ever done was change, and money was never spent on anything.

You could say that's beause the theatre didn't make enough money, which is true. It really didn't bring in enough people to support itself. But struggling to obtain Adam Sandler films at the time of their release may have been less effective than carefully selecting classics, or reserving one theatre for vintage films.

The theatre closed for the combination of reasons of both community and managerial neglect, but regardless of any placing of blame, it's a lost cause and it will undoubtedly be missed by all.

Saturday, July 16th.
On a Saturday evening, a crowd converged in the lobby of New Haven's oldest (and for a long time, New Haven's only) movie theatre, for the very last time.

There were more people there that evening than had been in quite some time, and the atmosphere was light, compared to the gravity and the seriousness of the situation.

Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon" was playing in theatre number 3.

The Equipment.
The machinery in the projection booths, notorious for its tendency to stall and sometimes occasionally ignite film on fire during showings, are antiques in what was becoming a kind of functional film museum.

Empty Seats.

Perhaps the most likely cause for the closing of the cinema was due to the increase of these: unoccupied seats.

Old Worn Down Buttons

The old computer for calculating ticket sales was equally as antiquated.

Self Destruct Button.

A self destruct button was installed by an employee sometime during the 1990's. It was uncertain whether anyone would ever press it.

Assorted Collection Of Movie Posters.

A well-kept collection of old movie posters from the last thirty five years remained in storage, and will be kept by the owner as memoribilia of decades of labor.

Last minute madness.

A former employee stands half-naked behind the refreshment counter, pouring soda onto himself.

Unloading The Equipment.

One of the projectors gets moved onto a push-cart, for removal and possibly later storage. It was stated that none of the equipment will be saved, and that it will all be thrown away.

Second-to-final marquee.

"As Bogie Said, 'It's what dreams were made of.' "


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