Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Paris Theatre Closed

New York City’s Last Single-Screen Cinema Shuts Its Doors:





Paris Theatre, 4 W. 58th St., New York, NY


Excerpts (quotes & photos) from the Architectural Forum, January 1949:
“Manhattan’s first new postwar motion picture house is, besides an excellent design, an uncharted venue in real estate and movie merchandising.”

“Sponsored by the French Pathe syndicate in an effort to up its U.S. take (now lower than in South America’s pint size Columbia), the cinema restricts its fare to special films, caters to an uptown audience of the cultivated and well-heeled.”



“Fifth Avenue Association, fearful of garish Broadway lights, dictated modest sign front.”


“Steinberg mural wallpaper showing scenes of Paris adds interest to simple room.”


“Series of curves provides top visual and acoustical performance. 
Upholstered seats are spaced 35-40 in. between rows.”

 Joe Wagner on Instagram 






Photograph, Paris Theatre June 8, 2011,  copyright Betty Sword, all rights reserved.
Architectural Forum article part of the Theatre Talks Collection



Since 1997 theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of  theatre talks and walks, available for  historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.
Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.
The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.
Currently seeking funding for “Editing & Formatting” the first three volumes of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, 3rd Edition


Friday, August 9, 2019

Adieu Bijou


Cinema and underground cruising spot has closed.


Bijou, 82 East 4th Street, New York

"Shows old movies to gay patrons who aren't watching them"
--New York Songlines

From the very beginning this subterranean space has served as an entertainment venue.

Certificate of Occupancy, October 22, 1927:
Cellar-- Persons Accommodated 150-- Restaurant, cabaret, and storage    

Originally the Rainbow Inn, it became Club 82 in 1954 (some accounts list 1958), famous for spectacular drag reviews.
Business partner Vito Genovese. like many mobsters, "financed Village gay bars, which were prevented from obtaining legitimate funding due to homophobic laws and social stigmas."



Various sources credit the New York Dolls, in 1973 or 74,  as the first rock group to play there.

"I was manager of the Dolls and I was approached by the club because they were switching over to glam rock bands. The drag crowd had moved on and the Club 82 never returned to the original format." 

A comment on the blog "It's All Streets You Crossed" differs:
"So many [sic] of the information regarding Club 82, in the glam period, are [sic] incorrect. Club 82 started having bands in '72, not '74. The Dolls were not the first band to play there. Another Pretty Face was the already house band there in '73." 

 An indie-film theatre took over the space in 1978, followed by an all-male strip club. Ron Wood opened the music venue Woody's in 1990, a dismal failure closing after only a few months.

Since  about 1992, the basement has been an on-again-off-again unmarked gay porn theater called the Bijou, featuring second-run Hollywood films in the main theatre with a separate row of private booths.

The Bijou closed for the final time in April 2019, the space has been gutted. According to the New York City Department of Buildings a "stop work order exists on this building."



Since 1997 theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of  theatre talks and walks, available for  historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.
Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.
The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.
Currently seeking funding for “Editing & Formatting” the first three volumes of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, 3rd Edition








Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Demolitions Lower East Side

Two closed movie theatres, associated with pioneer exhibitor Charles Steiner, were demolished in 2019.

Operating until recently, the popular Sunshine drew the most attention in the local press and on social media.


Sunshine, 143 E. Houston Street, NYC (1940 tax photo)



Closed originally in 1945, it was used as a warehouse by a local hardware business, reopening as a cinema in 2001.  

New York Yimpy April 7, 2019:
"Facing an imminent rent hike, art-house theater Sunshine Cinema closed last year after failing to obtain a liquor license from the neighborhood in efforts to compete with the wave of full-service theaters. The 100-year-old building sold for $31.5 million to East End Capital  and K Property group."



American, 238-240 East Third Street, NYC (1940 tax photo)

Constructed in 1913, the American was designed by Louis Sheinart, an architect responsible for many of the movie theatres that dotted the Lower East Side in the early 20th century.

In the Jewish Daily Forward, April 11, 1914, Charles Steiner advertise his new cinema as "positively the most beautiful, richest on the East Side."

 In a note of safety he added "all seats are downstairs near an exit,"  a reference to an incident at his Houston Hippodrome on February 2, 1913 when a cry of "fire" created a panic leaving two persons crushed to death and eleven severely injured. The Hippodrome would eventually be demolished and replaced by the Sunshine in 1917.


The American acquired by La MaMa as a children's theatre in June 1971 with a seating capacity of 277. A decade later it had become an "adult physical culture establishment."

Theatre Week, Volume 8, 1995:
"The Cucaracha Theater, now settled in its new home (240 East 3rd Street)

The building finally purchased by Chris Wink and Philip Stanton, founders of Blue Man Group, for use as a practice facility.

The Real Deal, Christian Bautista, April 30, 2018:
"The Blue Man Group sold its production studio in the East Village to Craftwood Partners for $12 million. The property, at 238-240 East 3rd Street, offers 21,004 buildable square feet. Craftwood plans to demolish the vacant site and build a condominium tower with a mix of two-and-three bedroom units."

The American demolished May 2019.


Demolition of the Sunshine, July 2019 (Photo: Betty Sword)




Since 1997 theatre historian, Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of theatre talks and walks, available for historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.


Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.


The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.


Editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index.


AboutMe


Goodreads

Medotcom 


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Regal Essex 14 & RPX

The Lower East Side has a new 14-screen multiplex. Opened April 6, 2019, at 129 Delancey Street, the Regal Essex 14 &  RPX is part of Essex Crossings, a mix-use development in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area









And from the windows of the new a glimpse of the old--remains of the Loew's Delancey (1912-1976):







Since 1997 theatre historian, Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of theatre talks and walks, available for historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.


Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.


The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.


Editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index.


AboutMe


Goodreads

Medotcom 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

John Street Theatre, New York

Theatre Magazine, September, 1902:

"The John Street Theatre, on the northerly side of John Street, was opened by Mr. [David] Douglas on December 7, 1767, with 'The Stratagem' and 'Lethe.' For many years this was the principal place of amusement in the city."





 One of the oldest objects in the Museum of the City of New York's theatre collection is a theatrical broadside for a performance of The Merchant of Venice at the John Street Theatre on Wednesday, November 30, 1785.




The theatre produced what is considered to be America's earliest musical - The Archers (subtitled 'The Mountaineers of Switzerland'), written by William Dunlap and Benjamin Carr. Based on the legend of William Tell, it ran for three performances--April 18-22, 1796.

With the city's growing prestige, the wealthy wanted to expand stage performance beyond the John Street Theatre which now appeared shabby and run down. . 

"Then, as the new century dawned, came new theatres, new players and new methods. The Park Theatre, which stood in Park Row, about two hundred feet east of Ann Street, was opened on January 29, 1798 and was long the fashionable place of amusement." [Theatre Magazine, September 1902]

The last production, at the John Street, took place on January 13, 1798, with its resident company moving to the new Park.

Briefly used by a neighboring grain and hay store, the John Street Theatre was demolished in late 1798.

The site,15-21 John Street, currently occupied by Brasserie Les Halles and a Duane Reade pharmacy.




Since 1997 theatre historian, Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of theatre talks and walks, available for historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.


Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.


The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.


Editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index.


AboutMe


Goodreads

Medotcom





   

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Elegy in Manhattan

Photo by Mishkin, New York


Drawing inspiration from Spoon River AnthologyGeorge Jessel wrote Elegy in Manhattan, transforming Edgar Lee Master's fictional village into the real world of New York entertainment.

"The confiding thoughts of fifty-six glittering guys and gals who once walked the streets of the Big Town."










As in Spoon River, the first poem serves as an introduction:

"Where are Joe and Lew;
Sam Bernard, Foy, Hitchy;

Nat C. Goodwin, and all his lovely wives;
'Terrible Terry,' 'Big John L';
The Frohman brothers, Charles and Dan;
The Shuberts, Lee and Sam?

"Nearly all are resting on
the banks of Manhattan,
Dreaming of how Lillian Russell
looked that New Year's Eve at Delmonico's,
of what Al Smith said
to Murphy that morning in Tammany Hall, 
of what Teddy R. said
at Union Square of young Cohan's 'Waving the Flag,'
and of 'dashing Jimmy'
the Mayor.

"Nearly all are resting on the banks of the Manhattan." 

 





On Amazon
















Since 1997 theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of  theatre talks and walks, available for  historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.
Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.
The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.
Editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Yankee Circus on Mars Opens the Hippodrome


Hippodrome Theatre

1120 6th Avenue,
 New York, NY


Built and operated by Fred Thompson & Skip Dundy, the Hippodrome opened on April 12, 1905 with “A Yankee Circus on Mars”.

Theatre Magazine, June 1905:




"The Hippodrome stage is the largest in the world, and only a faint idea of its real size is conveyed by these pictures. It is 110 feet deep and 200 feet wide, and 500 actors can appear on it with ease. The massive scenery, some of which weighs as much as 10 tons, is picked up bodily by a system of electric cranes which convey the pieces to and fro with no apparent effort."

"After the spectacular piece 'A Yankee Circus on Mars' comes an aquatic performance. The platform sinks in and the stage is transformed into a vast tank filled with water through which 'The Raiders' make their sensational plunge. The reservoir is 12 feet deep, and presents a realistic picture of a mountain torrent."

Hippodrome Theatre

The Lost 1905 New York Hippodrome



Since 1997 theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of  theatre talks and walks, available for  historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.
Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.
The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.
Editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index.