At the Movies
Not Everything Is Better In Brooklyn
Cobble Hill Cinemas, formerly known as the Lido and then as the Rio, feels a little bit like every movie theater you have ever been to. The air is slightly hazy with buttered popcorn dust, framed covers of old Photoplays jostle for attention with advertisements for dopey new rom-coms and a bank of gumball machines stands against one wall.
Cobble Hill is neither a multiplex nor a movie palace; the lobby is gussied up with gold paint, art deco plasterwork and rococo clouds, but its proportions are so small that patrons must wait on the sidewalk if they arrive more than 15 minutes before a show’s scheduled start time. There is a homespun quality to the place, its walls adorned with slightly clumsy murals of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx. It seems, in other words, like a memory, like the kind of place that must have closed down a decade or two (or three) ago.
To hear politicians like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, or council members Steve Levin and Letitia James tell it, Downtown Brooklyn is a critical hub of New York City’s blossoming tech industry. A vertex in the so-called “Tech Triangle,” along with Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the area has been (or will soon be) blessed with $100,000 in study money, a new bus line, a master plan, grant programs, a new urban engineering school and an untold number of press releases.
Now it’s just missing one thing: the tech tenants. Besides MakerBot Industries, a 3D printing firm that recently took over a whole floor at Forest City Ratner’s 1 MetroTech, and Aereo, a hi-tech service to access lo-tech over-the-air TV that took up shop at 470 Vanderbilt Avenue (which straddles the border between Fort Greene and Clinton Hill), the area has few of the start-ups that the litter Manhattan neighborhoods like Union Square, the Flatiron District and Chelsea. Never mind the larger established firms like Google and Microsoft.