New Amsterdam Theatre

214 W. 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 176 - 200 of 226 comments

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 3, 2005 at 10:27 am

Stevebob… you make an excellent point. There is something about that clock and signage that tugs at my heartstrings — as a veteran of the Deuce’s grindhouses from 1979 to ‘86 or so. But I find it completely at odds with the magnificent restoration within. I think it would have been nice to have the restored art-nouveau exterior of the New Amsterdam as compliment to the vintage exterior restorations to the New Victory and Lyric facades directly across the street.

Bway… do you feel claustrophobic when you walk around the area these days? Besides the blinding barrage of lights and video-feeds from all the modern signage and displays, Times Square has completely lost its sense of scale at street level. It’s all so vertical now… they’re just developing everything straight up. Think back to the Square and 42nd Street about 15 or 20 years ago – even amidst the shuttering of the grind houses, the squalor of the uncleaned streets and the come-ons from the live-porn barkers there was at least a sense of space and scale. I miss the days when you didn’t have to crane your neck to appreciate the character of the place.

Bway on October 3, 2005 at 9:44 am

I was on 42nd Street last night (I attended a concert in the old Astor Plaza, now the Nokia Theater that opened up Oct 1), and I haven’t been there in about a year. I couldn’t even recognize Times Square! Nothing’s familiar anymore, it seems to be changing by the day!

stevebob on October 3, 2005 at 9:40 am

It surprises me very much that they left the “modern” clock and vertical as part of the restoration. It certainly doesn’t match the art nouveau interior at all, yet personally I favor it. There are so few vestiges left of the old 42nd St., and it is one of them.

Bway on October 3, 2005 at 9:19 am

I have to agree with Ed on this one. While I think Disney did a fantastic job on the theater in general, the one thing they should have done differently is restoring the exterior to the original appearance rather than the 1930’s look it has now.
Bob, thanks for the info on the Lion King. I didn’t know it was moving to the Minskoff.

BobT on October 3, 2005 at 9:03 am

Thanks EdSolero, buzz on The Rialto is that “The Lion King” is moving to The Minskoff in the spring after “Fiddler On The Roof” closes in January and The New Amsterdam will be the new home of Disney’s London smash “Mary Poppins”.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 3, 2005 at 8:52 am

BobT… I agree with you. A magnificent interior restoration, but – as I commented way back in Feb of 2003 – the decision to go with the refitted art deco marquee rather than replicate the original 1903 exterior facade ornamentation and signage was highly questionable. Perhaps they figured that the clock and illuminated vertical sign have been associated with the New Amsterdam for so long now (at least back to the mid-30’s, no?) and fit in better with the current environment of 42nd Street. The folks who run the New Victory across the street did a wonderful job of recreating the original 1900 entrance while incorporating appropriate modern-day signage. Disney should have taken a cue from them.

BobT on September 5, 2005 at 5:53 pm

Such a disappointing facade. Disney did a magnificent restoration but the front of the house is so bland. I know they restored what was there but when you compare it to their El Capitan it just pales. The neon under the clock is out a lot too which just makes it look cheap.

42ndStreetMemories on July 27, 2005 at 10:13 am

Here’s that picture that I mentioned earlier and a classic from 1958….with EMERGO! Hey, it seemed at times, that all of the theaters on the Deuce had some kind of audience interaction. j

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RobertR on July 10, 2005 at 1:28 pm

Tallulah played here on showcase in 1965.
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teecee on May 19, 2005 at 11:53 am

Restoration information & photos:

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Thomas on May 8, 2005 at 5:31 pm

New Amsterdam Theatre circa 1980's
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42ndStreetMemories on April 20, 2005 at 2:42 pm

I guess in order to get more 42nd St-ish type fare like Columbia’s 1966 Matt Helm flic, Murderer’s Row and The Professionals (seen in the front of Marc Eliot’s book Down 42nd Street), they had to book Columbia’s ‘Roz & Hayley as nuns’ tripe.

The programming of Out of the Past & Tension at Table Rock was what made 42nd special to me. And those double features were the ones not advertised in the papers, so it was a treat to come up from the subway and scan the marquees. Jerry

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 20, 2005 at 11:36 am

Rosalind Russell (as a nun) Hayley Mills on 42nd Street! I guess the times did change after 1966.

42ndStreetMemories on April 17, 2005 at 9:40 am

Here is a 1966 shot of the New Amsterdam and a partial view of some of the other theaters on The Deuce. Note the COOLED BY REFRIGERATION sign under the marquee. And CONTINUOUS to 4 AM above it. Grant’s bar & Nedicks to the left.

I won the item on ebay and will be loaded it on to my website soon. Here’s the temporary link:
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For those interested, the films showing are:

42ndStreetMemories on April 16, 2005 at 8:02 am

Thanks, Gerald but as a kid I was given subscriptions to Cue as a Christmas gift by a neighbor. I still had to call each theater to get the programming. And with one phone line at the theater (before recorded messages), this took a while. The New Amsterdam, Lyric may have been listed but definitely not the Empire, Victory, Anco.

I still may try to hunt down Cue archives for other theaters. Thanks.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 13, 2005 at 8:52 am

Jerry Kovar: Perhaps Cue Magazine listed them if it was around then. You might be able to find copies from that era at a library. Just a suggestion.

42ndStreetMemories on April 13, 2005 at 8:27 am

That’s funny, Warren. How did Jane Eyre ever make it to The Deuce? I’m surprised they didn’t pair the East Side Kids with Career Girl.

I’m still looking for booking information of the 42nd St theaters in the 50s-60s. Newspapers did list some of the New Amsterdam-Lyric-Harris-Selwyn programming but not the others. If anyone can help, please let me know.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 11, 2005 at 1:17 pm

Since its magnificent restoration, I’ve brought folks here three times to see “The Lion King.” It is truly a theatre of orgasmic beauty. I’m not from New York but I saw a movie here once upon a time and didn’t register any reaction then.

teecee on April 11, 2005 at 11:28 am

sorry, corrected link:
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Darrel Wood
Darrel Wood on March 28, 2005 at 8:15 pm

Re: Benjamin’s comment of Jan 14 on the balcony support rods—your memory is correct. The Upper Balcony of the New Amsterdam has the support rods running up to the ceiling, but they do not actually support anything. Because no one had seen a cantilevered balcony back then, people were afraid it would collapse….so, the owner put the rods up to reassure people. They are still there, and supposedly cannot be removed because they are covered by the landmark ordinance. Under the main balcony there are some columns, so that would have reassured people back then that it had support.
As far as the upper theatre, the current line is still that they cannot meet code and have performances up there.

DonRosen on February 19, 2005 at 3:11 pm

I have an exterior photo of the New Amsterdam (circa early 90s). I’ll e-mail it to some if they want to post it.

GeorgeStrum on January 29, 2005 at 8:51 pm

Not to spook anyone but the New Amsterdam is haunted by the spirit of one of the Follies girls. Her name is Olive Thomas and she died very young from an illness and over dosed on her medication. Former and some present maintanance people and performers have seen her. Mostly in the balcony and in the so called Garden Roof section. They say she looks so real and solid you’d think she was alive. Well, that’s the legend of the New.Am.

Benjamin on January 14, 2005 at 12:29 pm

From my recollection, the rooftop theater atop the New Amsterdam was indoors — but with big windows. It may — or may not — also have had some kind of sliding roof that allowed you to see the sky in good weather.

I know this sounds modern, and I’m not sure about the New Amsterdam having such a roof, but Christopher Grey in the “Times” — a pretty reliable source — said that the original Lunt-Fontanne Theater had such a “moon roof.” And I believe the Waldorf-Astoria (the current one, from the 1930s) had some kind of retractable roof for it’s “Starlight Roof” nightclub. (I was in this space once for a function — it’s used for events and receptions — but I believe the retractable roof feature was removed long ago.)

The roof garden / restaurant on top of Hammerstein’s Victoria seems (from the one or two photos I’ve seen of it) to be mostly in the open air — but with some sort of covered area along the sides also. (From photos, it seems to be “multi-leveled” also, with the open air section up a few steps.)

Re: ambient noise

While I assume 42nd St. was not really quiet even then, in 1903 or so when some of these theaters were built, the area was built up differently than it is today. It was mostly low, rowhouses (“brownstones”), churches and horse and carriage manufacturing / trading facilities. So I suppose the kind of noises produced were different — for instance, no loud diesel truck and bus v-a-r-o-o-m noises, no garbage truck compactor whines and, obviously, no car alarms! Also maybe the height (six stories or so above the ground) might have helped distance people from some of the noise?

(Also, maybe the whole thing seemed like a better idea than it was, and the noise helped contribute to the demise of such places — along with the growing city around them!)