Thursday, May 21, 2009

The New York - Bangkok, Thailand

Just south of Pratipat Road on Phaholyothin there's a small alley locally known as Soi Rong Nang New York. As one would guess, the soi was named for the movie theater that has stood as its most prominent landmark for nearly 40 years - The New York Theater.

In its heyday Soi Rong Nang New York was a night life hot spot, filled with bars, night clubs and restaurants, and anchored by the bi-level New York Theater. There are numerous such commercial/entertainment zones like this in Bangkok, most of which have been all but forgotten, except for by the most marginal segments of society. If you were to trace the rise and fall of these places, you would probably get a pretty accurate view of the movement of capital in Bangkok over the last x-number of years.
Side view of facade, with boarded-up ticket windows.
Stray dog and abandoned theater.

Looking out towards the mouth of the soi from rear of the theater.

The New York Theater and the soi that's named after it are pretty desolate these days. Besides a few vendors who've set up shop under the theater's veranda, there are very few businesses in this court. A lone karaoke bar, a few businesses at the mouth of the soi and that's about it. I was warned not to return after dark, when Soi Rong Nang New York turns into a battlefield for roving teenage gangs.

Remnants of a failed business - post-theater - on the right hand side of the photo.

Movie posters for what looks like an older version of "The Headless Horseman" and "The Land that Time Forgot." The latter is a pretty good fit for the setting.

The New York Theater has been abandoned for over 6 years now, slowing rotting in a decrepit corner of the city. In its final years it resorted to showing adult films before it was shut for good. At one time, however, the New York Theater was a nice first run movie theater and the center of a vibrant commercial community.

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