Gem Theatre

36 West 135th Street,
New York, NY 10037

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Designed by architect Maximilian Zypkes, the Crescent Theatre opened December 16, 1909 with a program of vaudeville and motion pictures. It continued to exhibit films through at least 1922, by which time it was known as the New Crescent. By 1926, it was known as the Gem Theatre, and by 1930, as the New Gem Theatre. By 1937, the space was being used as a meeting hall.

More information would be appreciated.

Contributed by Damien Farley

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

KenRoe
KenRoe on December 12, 2005 at 5:19 am

The American Motion Picture Directory;1914-1915 has the Crescent Theatre listed at the address 38 West 135th Street.

The Film Daily Yearbook;1926 edition has this theatre listed as the New Gem Theatre with 300 seats. The 1930 edition of F.D.Y. has it listed as the Gem Theatre with 299 seats.

bamtino
bamtino on December 12, 2005 at 3:34 pm

I neglected to properly list the theatre’s status as “Closed/Demolished.” Harlem Hospital Center now utilizes the land on which the theatre once stood.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 15, 2009 at 6:50 am

The Gem fell victim to the Depression and closed around 1932. Three years later, on July 6, 1935, the Amsterdam News reported that “the old Gem Theatre” at 36-38 West 135th Street had been sold to the Universal Negro Improvement Association for conversion into heaquarters for its activities in Harlem. The ground floor would be used as an auditorium, with a cafeteria and gymnasium to be built in the basement. The second floor would be converted into meeting rooms and offices. Much of the Gem’s original street frontage would be converted into stores to provide rental income for the Asssociation.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 31, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hello-

the Crescent/Gem was designed and built to showcase films as well as vaudeville and as such opened on the night of Dec. 16, 1909. so doesn’t that make it the 1st theater built brick by brick from the ground up in Manhattan for the purpose of showing movies?

for the next several years after the faithful night of April 23, 1896 at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall i should think any “movie theaters” that existed in Manhattan were simply music halls and vaudeville/legitimate theaters converted to show flickers as they were known.

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