Realty Check rarely crosses the Hudson River. But we make an exception for this week’s beam-signing ceremony for the Barrymore Film Center in Fort Lee, NJ — a 21,500 square-foot, 260-seat cinema, museum and movie archives building designed by architect Hugh Hardy.
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The “retro-futuristic” project, is to open in October 2020.
Although little known to many New Yorkers, Fort Lee was the “original Hollywood.” Universal, Fox and Paramount launched their first studios there in 1910 with silent-screen stars including Will Rogers, Mary Pickford, Dorothy and Lillian Gish and Lionel Barrymore.
Groundbreaking movies shot in Fort Lee included pioneering gangster opus “The Musketeers of Pig Alley” in 1912, which influenced Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” and Universal’s first horror film, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” in 1913. Filmmaking continued even after the industry moved to Los Angeles, and Fort Lee was the setting for the 1947 noir classic “Kiss of Death.”