RKO Jefferson Theatre

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

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Jefferson Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Jefferson Theatre opened in 1913 as a B.F. Keith’s vaudeville theater in what is now known as the edge of the East Village. Later the RKO Jefferson Theatre, this theater was located at 214 E. 14th Street near Third Avenue. The entrance was a narrow space between two tenement houses with the bulk of the theatre (auditorium) located in 13th Street.

The RKO Jefferson Theatre operated until at least 1977. It lay empty for over two decades and was demolished in 2000. Today, the site is filled with bricks and debris from the demolition and the old Jefferson Theatre has passed on.

Contributed by John Chappell

Recent comments (view all 93 comments)

Joe Solano
Joe Solano on January 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm

But the ads mention that the they had vaudeville acts at a certain time and date, don’t they? This would just confirm how old I must have been when seeing them. The details would be helpful but I have the general vaudeville productions in my memory. I can see in my mind the pianist who served as the band director conducting the performers on stage and the musicians in the pit. It was a small band of some five to six pieces but they were excellent, enormously dynamic.

The NYT ad would be only an inspiring memento as I work on possible vaudeville productions on the Oregon Coast. I could make a poster collage of varied vaudeville ads.

Anyway, that’s kind of my imaginative game that I would really enjoy. I do produce many shows out here but vaudeville has been in the back of my mind for decades, all because of the wonderful experiences I had at the Jefferson Theater and occasionally at the Academy of Music a block further west on 14th St.

Thanks for any mementos I might receive. Thanks to anyone who can provide newspaper clippings or posters of Jefferson Theater vaudeville.

Tinseltoes on January 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm

On this night only in 1948, the RKO Jefferson presented five acts of vaudeville (no specific names listed) in addition to MGM’s B&W epic “Green Dolphin Street” and UA’s “Fabulous Joe” (a Hal Roach “streamliner” in Cinecolor). The films were second-run for the area, having played two weeks earlier at Loew’s Commodore.

AlAlvarez on July 29, 2012 at 11:20 am

This was still showing movies in 1977.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 30, 2012 at 12:50 am

George Burns mentions this theater many times — on his TV show, in his books, in his act. Apparently there was a real tough crowd in this house.

DougD on April 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm

The vacant lot will soon be apartments.


RickB on April 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I love how the apartments are in “North West East Village.” And that would be in the southern half of Manhattan…

bicyclereporter on May 11, 2013 at 5:04 pm

There was a brief mention of the theater in this week’s East Villager. Apartments are going up in its place and it said it was demolished 15 years ago.

robertpetrick on September 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I just uploaded a photo I shot of the Jefferson shortly before it was demolished. I may have a better shot and will look for it to post. I would love to see a photo of the marquis in full bloom if somebody has one.

robboehm on September 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Go to the comments section with a posting by Warren G. Harris on May 4, 2008 which has links to photos of a functioning RKO Jefferson. Also read Warren’s comments elsewhere about the Billy Rose Collection.

hdtv267 on April 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

A very nice little history of the “toughest house in NYC” is found as part of this Frankenstein based blog, which includes some photos as well


You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater