83rd Avenue west of Grenfell Street and Lefferts Boulevard
Recollections by A. Linsky
"In a recent Guest Book letter, Marty (Harpo) Marks
asks if anyone can remember the 'Rumpus Room' on 83rd. Avenue.
I certainly can living next door to the building that it was quartered
in - in fact, I even remember the previous tenant 'Art Leonard's
Rainbow Inn', and even before that when it was a vegetable market!
A little history;
When my parents bought property on 83rd. Avenue to build their home on
in 1938, they also bought the adjoining business parcel that stretched
to Grenfell and Lefferts (see photo of vacant land in 1934 attached)
thinking that they could have a rather lush garden to compliment the
However, a clever business friend convinced them to build stores
instead as an investment.
The major or anchor store was a large produce market that eventually
closed down about 1947 which is when Art Leonard, who was a movie
producer with films such as 'A Hat Full of Rain' and 'The House of
92nd. Street' being among his credits, decided to open a high end
night spot to compete with 'Ciro's attached to the Homestead Hotel
down the street.
The Rainbow was a landmark for a number of years and closed at just
about the same time as we sold our house in 1963 which is when the
Rumpus Room took over.
A few interesting asides; With Mr. Leonard's show business connections
he was able to obtain top names as performers for his stage including
Max Roach, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and a host of other
notables (the music heard when the front door was open was great!).
Mr. Leonard also produced and directed a documentary about Queens
around 1958 with the focus being on Kew Gardens, and with this writer
appearing as an extra - unfortunately, the reels, which are now among
the missing, would have added so much to our history.
And finally; notice the sign posted in the attached picture which
touts the fact that a movie theater was to be built on the property -
it's obvious that it was probably going to be the original location
for the Austin, and it is also obvious that the neighbors objected
If you have pictures of yourself showing any Kew Gardens locale in the background, email me high resolution jpegs and I will post them here as space permits.
To download a copy of the Queens Courier's
Sept. 2003 article about Old Kew Gardens.com, click on one of the following links. Turn off your browser's auto-resize if the JPEG text appears too small to read.
- Hi Resolution, 379kb]
- Low Resolution, 97kb