RKO Jefferson Theatre

214 E. 14th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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Showing 26 - 50 of 75 comments

robboehm on May 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

I used to work in the Gramercy Park area and on nice days would venture down to 14th to get an ice cream sandwich, with freshly cooked waffles, at Mc Clellans. The Jefferson was closed the entire time I worked there. I remember thinking it odd that the name was right justified. Aha! When RKO left the owner took down those initials just leaving the Jefferson part. A slow decline. Sad.

Joe Solano
Joe Solano on May 1, 2011 at 8:05 am

Here’s a very early photo of the Jefferson Theater:

View link

I’d love to have more information on the theater’s late vaudeville era in the 1940s and perhaps even in the early fifties if it was still happening.


Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm

This ad (bottom left) shows the Jefferson still open and showing porn in 1975.

Joe Solano
Joe Solano on September 22, 2009 at 8:41 am

That cut off question above should read, “I would like to know when the last vaudeville show was given at the Jefferson Theater.”


Joe Solano
Joe Solano on September 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

Thanks to everyone who posted on the Jefferson Theater. I grew up in that neighborhood and was practically a weekly patron of that theater and others in that area. I attended many, many vaudeville shows on weekends that were performed after the movies were shown and I would sit right in front of the orchestra. It was absolutely stunning and unforgettable for a kid of 4â€"10 years. And all this for 25 cents! I saw fabulous acts that left indelible imprints in my mind and given me a profound love for live theater. The Academy of Music also had spectacular live shows which I attended.

I would like to know when the last vaudeville show

I came to this site because I’m contemplating producing vaudeville on a very small scale where I now live in Oregon and the authenticity I visualize comes primarily from my experiences at the Jefferson Theater. There are many talented people who, like in the old days, would like an opportunity to showcase their art. A live small orchestra/band with a minimum of piano, trombone, trumpet, drums and bass can pull it off.

Thanks again and keep the information flowing on this site that I’ve bookmarked.

Joe Solano

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

Sorry folks. Here it is.

View link

William on April 13, 2009 at 9:10 am

Al, the above link is to the Hollywood Twin, that you posted earlier.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 13, 2009 at 9:02 am

I believe this photo coincides with the ad post by RobertR on Jul 4, 2005 at 2:13pm

View link

mda38 on February 15, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I live right behind where the theater was and watched it getting ripped down. It was such a sad thing.

In Harpo Marx’s “Harpo Speaks” Marx mentions that he came up with his nonspeaking act while performing on 13th Street, because he had difficulty remembering his lines. It would make sense that he thought it up at the Jefferson.

I think the porn theater mentioned above was Variety Photoplays, which had an amazing old marquee that can also be seen in “Taxi Driver.”

Adamsdad on February 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Glad that the site has been put to such productive, high-valued-added use. It’ll probably sit empty for another five years, at least, in this economy. Wonder what the developer paid, what his mortgage is like and how much he’s shelling out to the city in the way of property taxes every 90 days. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Oh wait. I know. “NYU can bail me out…In fact, it’ll be able to use money from `the stimulus package' to erect yet another dormitory, with tax-free assistance from the New York State Dormitory Authority.” What a joke.

Greenpoint on February 8, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Here is a recent photo of the East 14th street portion of the empty lot,where the Jefferson theatre once stood.


Here is the East 13th street side of the empty lot,where the Jefferson theatre once stood.


Essietemont on February 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

Thanks, a coincidence then…

Essietemont on February 2, 2009 at 10:44 am

Does anyone know if 214 E 14th St was a theatre before RKO opened there in 1913? An actress in my family listed that address as her home in 1908…

tkmonaghan on May 25, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Here’s a photograph of 14th Street looking west with the Jefferson Theatre on the left side of the street. This photo was printed from the original glass negative, which I have in my possession.

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 3, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Here’s a photo of the Jefferson’s facade taken in the late 1990s, plus two cropped close views, all viewable in very large sizes, posted by Flickr user amg2000.

mp775 on March 25, 2008 at 7:54 am

The link I posted on 10/23/07 no longer works; use this instead:

RKO Jefferson in 1982

SPearce on January 9, 2008 at 10:26 pm

From the May 10, 1046 NYC edition of the (Communist) Daily Worker RKO Jefferson 14 St. & 3rd Ave.:

Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman
“Bells of St. Mary’s”

Question: photos of the facade of the Jefferson posted by Thomas in May 2005: would a theater as famous as B.F. Keith’s Vaudeville house really have been only as wide across as the facade in the photo suggests in its heyday? I will have to change my mental image (or at least the ones provided me by “the movies”) of what the approach to B.F. Keith’s might have been. Thank you.

Adamsdad on October 24, 2007 at 8:06 pm

And a cigarette ad, (Kents, perhaps), on the side of the side of the bus in the foreground.

dave-bronx™ on October 24, 2007 at 7:24 pm

…with the side of the Palladium looming in the background.

Adamsdad on October 22, 2007 at 3:05 pm

The Jefferson was probably the toughest house in Manhattan because it was adjacent to a very tough neighborhood, the Gashouse District. And its vaudeville attendance would have dwindled when thousands of people were evicted from their homes to make way for Stuyevsant Town beginning in 1945. The first resident in Stuy Town didn’t move in until 1947-1948.

bobmarshall on August 28, 2007 at 6:57 pm

From Nathan Silver’s “Lost New York”:
“(the Jefferson)…After it became linked to the big time Keith circuit in 1920, its players included The Marx Brothers, Mae West, Jack Benny & Fred Allen. ‘The Jefferson was considered the toughtest house in New York’ said George Burns in his book, "Gracie.” It was a movie house from the 30’s through 60’s and finally demolished in 1999."


kc2dhj on August 20, 2007 at 9:54 am

Iremember the huge fish tanks that were in the lobby (circa early 60s) and that I saw a live spook show with “Zacherley”

kencmcintyre on March 18, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Here is a 1986 photo by Michael Putnam: