Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre

1481 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Hammerstein’s Victoria Theatre was opened on March 3, 1899 by theatre baron Oscar Hammerstein. The Victoria Theatre also had a roof garden which abutted The Republic Theatre (now the New Victory Theatre).

In 1916, S.L. Rothafel took over the property and it was demolished to build the Rialto Theatre on the site. In 1935, this too was demolished, creating the Art Deco style movie palace, the Rialto Theatre.

Contributed by John Chappell

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

spectrum
spectrum on September 30, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Craig Morrison’s “Theatres” Book (A Library of Congress Sourcebook), captions the photo at the top of this page as Hammerstein’s Venetian Terrace (Victoria Roof Garden). Opened June 26, 1899, 1,000 seats, architect J. B. McElfatrick & Sons. The photograph dated from 1901.

Hammerstein, after having lost his Olympia (1514-1526 Broadway), built the Victoria at the southern end of Times Square at 1451-1481 Broadway. The Victoria Roof Garden/Venetian was described as being ornamental and delibertately ramshackle in appearance, and was quite popular for a number of years, patrons being able to catch cool breezes from the hearby Hudson River in this semi-enclosed venue. Immediately behind the Roof Garden was Hammerstein’s Paradise Garden, atop Hammerstein’s adjoining Republic Theatre. It also accommodated 1,000 patrons and was designed by J. B. McElfatrick & Sons. This was an open garden featuring a minterature farm, one of whose denizens was a lasvicious monkey that would list women’s skirts. The photo from the book also shows a tudor-style farmhouse, and an old-style windmill next to the promenade with tables and chairs.

Bway
Bway on September 30, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Did the theater that now is called the Hammerstein Ballroom, and shows concerts ever show film? And if so, is it listed on this site? I am assuming it may not have ever shown film, as it’s not on the site… Either way, what was it’s name when it was still a theater?

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on October 3, 2007 at 7:27 pm

There’s a nice picture of this theatre in the first photo section of “No Applause – Just Throw Money, The Book that made Vaudeville Famous” by Trav SD.

Hyford
Hyford on February 23, 2008 at 8:33 am

To answer Bway’s question: Hammerstein’s Ballrooom, located on 34th Street west of 8th Avenue was oreiginally the Manhattan Opera House. Built by Oscar Hammerstein in 1904. It was used by him solely for presenting opera (in direct competetion with the Metropolitan Opera) who ultimately paid him $10 million in 1910 to stop producting opera (for ten years) as they were both losing money. The theatre was then used as a legititmate theatre. Never for the presentation of films.

Bway
Bway on March 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Thanks flyman!
I went to a few concerts there over the years and was always interested in it’s history. I figured it never showed film, as it’s not on this site. Anyone know of any photos online of the Manhattan Opera House, aka Hammerstein Ballroom?

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 18, 2008 at 11:56 am

Although I agree with Warren that this was hardly a cinema, the Hammerstein on 53rd street (Ed Sullivan) did premiere the classic Russian film ‘The End of St. Petersburg" in 1928.

Bway
Bway on May 26, 2009 at 12:10 pm

If it was 1/3, I think a lot of theaters would have to be taken off the site. Especially now when as the buildings age, many of them have been used for retail, churches, etc, longer than they ever were used for movies.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on March 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Hammerstein’s Victoria figures prominently in the plot of David O. Selznick’s “Portrait of Jennie” and is referenced repeatedly there.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on September 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Hello-

i love books about NYC theaters stage or film. one of my favorite’s is Mary C. Henderson’s “42 St.” the book contains 12 chapters or bios one might say for each of the theaters built on 42 st. between 7th and 8th Avenues. the 1st theater built on the block was the American which was on the southside closer to 8th in i believe 1895?

the chapter on the American begins with this statement-“the American has the dubious distinction of being the 1st theater built on the block and the first torn down”. to which i reacted ??????? the 2nd theater built on the block Hammerstein’s Victoria opened in 1899 and was torn down the end of 1915 to built the Rialto the 1st “movie palace” in Times Square which opened in 1916. now the American which was boarded up after a fire in 1930 wasn’t torn down until the spring of 1931 i believe. this being the case how can Henderson say the American was the 1st of the 12 theaters on the block torn down if the Victoria was torn at the end of 1915 a good 16 years before the American. this is where my question comes in.

there seems to be a wide range of opinions as to whether Hammerstein’s Victoria was a)completely torn down/demolished as we would use the term today or if it was b)simply gutted to the bare skeletal structure and the Rialto built within said skeletal frame. so which is it? if its b) that would certainly give some credence to Henderson’s statement about the American.

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