When the 1920s theater at 138 East 14th Street bit the dust in 1997, more was lost than just the Palladium nightclub, which had occupied the space in the 1980s.
On the second floor was the cavernous Julian Billiard Academy, run since 1933 by the Julian family but operating as a pool hall since 1916. Until Julian’s shut its doors in 1991, it was New York’s oldest billiards room and once one of hundreds across the city.
“Old school” is the way ex-customers describe it. Like the rest of this stretch of East 14th Street, it was slightly seedy but safe, attracting “students, actors, businessmen, and bums” and providing “safe harbor at most hours of the night and morning.”
What brought it down? High rent, of course. According to a New York Times article, it went from $300 a month in 1933 to $6,000 in 1987.
”I don’t know what I will do when my lease is up in four years,” the 53-year-old owner [Ron (Julian) Hickers] said as he looked out the window at a luxury apartment building rising across East 14th Street. ”I may just hang it up and go to Florida.”
Today, 138 East 14th Street is the site of NYU’s Palladium Hall dorm.
Here’s a link to a terrific grunge-era photo of the entrance of Julian’s, from a blog called The Devil Wears.
[Top photo: Courtesy Warehouse Magazine]