New Amsterdam Theatre

214 West 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 76 - 100 of 260 comments

AlAlvarez on February 24, 2010 at 7:34 am

I am not just pining away for a lost street of violence. It also had great personality, interesting buildings and a wonderful history. If you have been to fabricated places like to E-walk Los Angeles and Downtown Disney Orlando you know how soul less and annoying they can be. But they are profitable. 42nd street is now phony, soul less, and already looking a bit tired.

My point is that the new 42nd street has no personality AND no profit.

Broadway has far more theatres than Broadway producers and those new 42nd street locations are closed 80% of the year because they are last in the pecking order of choice. Only the New Amsterdam and Victory have worked.

I hope I am wrong because I live in the neighborhood but what I see is a rapidly aging tourist park already getting sleazy by economic hardship. The fiberglass is just not holding up and the hustlers and the porn are just a block away.

LuisV on February 24, 2010 at 6:45 am

Wow! AlAvarez, I can’t believe that you are pining away for the Times Square of the 70', 80’s and early 90’s. That period was a cancer for New York that threatened the entire city. The gentirfication of 42nd rejuvenated Times Square as a whole and enabled the resurgence of Hell’s Kitchen as one of New York’s great neighborhoods in which to live, work and play!

I am a life long New Yorker and I say good riddance to the eviction of the old theater owners on 42nd Street. We lost nothing, but crime and filth. Would we have the HQ for Conde Nast at 42nd and Bway and the NY Times on 41st and 8th without the new 42nd St? Of course not!

The Hilton and American Airlines Theaters white elephants? What nonsense. Few theaters have long term runs, but you forget that 42nd Street (the musical) did have a long run there. That said, the theater does well on rental income. The producers may not, but the theater does.

You want character, go visit the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. That is eerily similar to the old Times Square. It is filthy, dangerous, there is open drug use on the street, lots of bums congregating and decayed theaters. it was eerie! It’s also a shame, and they would do well to copy New York’s program to gentrify that area as well.

AlAlvarez on February 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I forgot the Victory.

The Times Square and Liberty will never be theatres again as there no legal access for sets and no practical use for movies. The other two (American and Hilton) are basically all-new white elephants with a string of dismal boxoffice failures.

The Rialto 1 & 2 stopped showing porno in 1976 and was never involved in the redevelopment program.

Evicting Cine 42 alone cost New York tax payers $8.4 million. Like many other of these deals, the space was given to Disney to use for free.

When these rent contracts start running out watch the street become a ghost town again.

Bway on February 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Quote:“I’m sure you know that almost all the 42nd Street theaters showed mainstream Hollywood and genre movies (karate, gore), not porn.”

Of course I do. But just like everywhere else, it’s next to impossible to run a theater like that just on film anymore. No way you are going to fill a theater like the New Amsterdam, or any of the others there, on just film and still turn a profit. You can probably count on a few hands the theaters left in the whole country still doing that.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Porno ran at the Rialto 1 and 2, Victory, Harem, and Roxy for years, and for the last years also at the Anco.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm

The Selwyn is still functioning as a playhouse (American Airlines,) the Victory is running a successful children’s theater business, the Times Square and Liberty are intact and awaiting viable proposals. Elements of the Lyric and Apollo are present in the Hilton (nee Ford, and needs a more permanent name.)

AlAlvarez on February 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Of course not. There used to be over a dozen classic theatres there. Only the New Amsterdam and the Empire lobby remain viable. The others were gutted or demolished.

For this effort New York State tax payers paid billions to the private investors who finance Cuomo and Guliani’s political campaigns.

There were only about six porno businesses on 42nd street, the red light district. There are now over 200 in Manhattan alone although few are theatres. It was win/win for everyone except movie theatres.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 23, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I’m sure you know that almost all the 42nd Street theaters showed mainstream Hollywood and genre movies (karate, gore), not porn.

The Victory and Rialto showed porno, and later the Anco, but these theaters showed double and triple bills of regular, though sometimes obscure, movies:
New Amsterdam
Cine 42
Times Square

Bway on February 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm

That’s not even a fraction of the porn that was one there, not even a fraction. PLUS, that also isn’t using a theater.

AlAlvarez on February 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm

I guess you haven’t been to Show World on 42nd street, or 38th street and eighth where there are five porn shops on one block, or the Fair in Queens, or the China Club and brothel on 47th street.

Moved, yes. Destroyed, hardly.

What Guliani (and Cuono) achieved was remove poor “ethnic” audiences from Times Square. It used to be called Urban Re-niggering by the Black Panthers.

Bway on February 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Good riddance to the porn industry in Times Square. Yes, it would have been so much better if they were showing porn in a run down New Amsterdam Theater instead of Disney restoring it and showing “Mary Poppins”….

And the internet would have destroyed whatever was left of the porn business anyway, even if Guiliani didn’t.

AlAlvarez on February 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm

All the 42nd street theatres were evicted outright against their will.

The Brandt action houses, in particular, proved they were profitable in court. The porno sites were even more profitable, but all lost their court cases. The Guliani administration evicted them and made a deal with the pornographers (Guliani’s buddies) so they could open anywhere in the city as long as they stayed clear of 42nd street.

Both current high-grossing multiplexes lose money and ego will only go so far when the economy is bad.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I don’t think the closings were completely natural. (Maybe the New Amsterdam was) but many were hastened along by development money. It wasn’t a case of abandoned theaters being re-discovered years later; most of these houses went from showing movies to being parts of various redevelopment proposals, some of which have actually come to pass while others still lie vacant.

Bway on February 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm

All those “decaying dumps” weren’t profitable at the end, that’s why they closed. You again, are mixing up the Times Square of the pre-60’s and the current one, forgetting the one of the 70’s and 80’s where they closed because they were falling apart and NOT profitable anymore.
As a great fan of old theaters, it’s hard to say what I am about to say, but it’s the truth….it’s utterly impossible for most of these old beautiful “cinematreasures” to be profitable as single scream large theaters anymore. And this is not a Times Square phenomenon, it’s a national one. There aren’t many left still operating as a large 2000 or 3000 seat movie theater.
The multiplexes have a hard time turning a profit, much less a cavernous old theater.
You are lamenting a time and era, not a place.

AlAlvarez on February 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm

..and those old decaying dumps were all profitable. The two new remaining complexes both lose money.

How do you think that will go on with the new Disneyscape real estate prices?

edblank on February 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm

No question that the structures themselves had incomparably more character than the sterile multiplex auditoriums of today. And I was fascinated by the pairings on those double and triple bills.

On vacations (at first), I would begin many a day with a double feature starting at 8:30 on that block. At first I was more fascinated than not by all of the extra activity in those theaters, including something I’d never seen in an American moviehouse before: vendors selling concessions in the aisles and private duty guards bumping snoozers with a billy club.

After several of those moviehouses had closed around 1990, I pursuaded one of the owners (or perhaps a real estate agent specially dispatched) to walk me through all of the closed moviehouses, all of which I think were for sale. I was surprised this was so easy to arrange for a story that would appear in a Pittsburgh newspaper, and I was thoroughly absorbed by all the little tidbits of information … even as I was trying to absorb as much visual information as I could.

But, alas, they were in horrible condition, and they were not about to be resuscitated to the conditions they probably enjoyed in the 1940s.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I miss the double and triple features; I skip many movies now that I would have seen as part of double bill. I started going in the mid-70’s until the end, and while it was all those things that Ed said, I still miss sitting in the balcony and seeing movies in those faded showplaces.

edblank on February 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I couldn’t agree more with Bway (two posts above). What I first walked up and down the key block on 42nd Street in the mid-1950s as a kid, I was knocked out by the razzle dazzle of all those lights on all those marquees with about 10 double features.

When I started to return to NYC as an adult professional in the late 1960s and finally got into most of those theaters, they were rounding their final corners.

By the 1970s they were inching and then sprinting toward being cesspools with smelly auditoriums, snoring and boozing patrons, frequent pepperings of crude language within the audience and numerous indications of extracurricular patron activities and rodents.

Outside, pimps, prostitues and muggers galore.

I’m no great champion of the Disney company, which made an art of excessive avariciousness a long time ago. But that corporation’s contribution to Times Square, including the renovation of the New Amsterdam, contributed greatly to the gentrification of a block that desperately needed and deserved rescuing.

Since then, the two multiplexes on the block have been drawing a much rougher-than-average clientele, but it’s still better than what we had before.

I’m dumbfounded by criticism of the “Disneyfication” of 42nd Street. The block and indeed the whole neighborhood was putrid before Disney and others stepped in. They destroyed no “character.” There was no character left worth salvaging.

Tinseltoes on February 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

Here’s a 1914 aerial view showing the New Amsterdam and some of the other theatres in that portion of West 42nd Street: View link

Bway on February 21, 2010 at 6:53 am

Rather have “Mary Poppins” (the restored this beautiful theater to it’s former glorry, instead of a cave with water coming through the ceiling), and “Applebees”, and “McDonalds” than the street a ghost town after dark, and where you don’t know whether a hooker will attack you, a mugger jump up behind you, offered drugs, or shot in a drive by where a drug deal went bad.
Times Square wasn’t “destroyed” with the redo, the real Times Square died in the 60’s already. The current one just picked up the pieces of the horror it was in the 70’s and 80’s.
You can keep your 1970’s and 1980’s Times Square. I’ll take the current one.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 20, 2010 at 8:17 pm

42nd Street was more like a ghost town than a pit at the time the theaters were shuttered and re-development hadn’t kicked in.

AlAlvarez on February 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Still can be unless MARY POPPINS, “Valentines Day”, Applebees and McDonalds turn you on when it is cold, gloomy and gray.

Perhaps you don’t have the extra $12.50 to see a movie or $130.00 to see a show or the $5.00 it takes to get something awful to eat these days.

Times Square is always bad without money and glorious with it. It is the best example of unbridled capitalism in the world.

Bway on February 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Wow, I forgot what a pit Times Square used to be. Some difference.

woody on February 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm

quite a miserable rainy day with the shuttered amsterdam and the surrounding grubbyness of the corner of 42nd st and broadway

Tinseltoes on February 7, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Here’s a rare view of the entrance, looking out towards 42nd Street. “The Conspirator” was released in 1950 and probably the next booking, with “Comanche Territory” as co-feature:
View link 115