Loew's New York Theatre and Roof
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Previously operated by: Loew's Inc.
Architects: John Bailey McElfatrick
Previous Names: Olympia Music Hall, Loew's New York Theatre and Annex
In 1895, showman Oscar Hammerstein opened his colossal Olympia, a block-wide complex on the east side of Broadway between 44th and 45th Streets that included two theatres, a concert hall, a roof garden, billiards and bowling facilities, and other attractions. The project proved a quick failure and bankrupted Hammerstein. New owners took over and remodeled the Olympia into three theatres.
The 2,800-seat Olympia Music Hall, which had six tiers of boxes and five balconies, was reduced to a 1,675-seat playhouse called the New York Theatre. The Olympia’s other playhouse, the Lyrio, was re-named Criterion. The roof garden was enclosed into a conventional 925-seat heatre and re-named Jardin de Paris, becoming home for the first editions of Florenz Ziegfeld’s “Follies”.
In 1915, Marcus Loew, still years away from becoming a mogul, took over the New York Theatre and Roof and converted them into cinemas. Both theatres showed the same movies, but on staggered schedules. The films were subsequent-run, and the programs changed frequently, initially on a daily basis and later three times a week. Admission prices were the lowest on Broadway, from 10 to 15 cents depending on time of day.
The policy continued until 1935, when the buildings were demolished to make way for a new cinema called the Criterion and retail/restaurant space. In its twenty years of operation, Loew’s New York and Roof reportedly sold 50 million tickets. Many of its patrons were regulars who never missed a show. It was also a favorite of people who worked in the “legit” theatres and went there to kill time between matinee and evening performances or afterwards. The New York’s last complete show started at 11PM and the Roof’s at midnight.
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Recent comments (view all 32 comments)
In the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide, under N.Y. theaters, is listed the Olympia Theatre, Oscar Hammerstein, Mgr., Arthur Hammerstein, Business Mgr. Admission prices ranged from 50 cents to $1.50. The proscenium opening was 31 feet wide X 34 feeet high, and the stage was 34 feet deep. The auditorium was on the ground floor. The seating capacity is given as 1,850 but the breakdown does not add up: Orchestra 400, Balcony 150. Gallery 300, Boxes 78, total: 928. Under N.Y. Variety Theaters is listed the Olympia Music Hall, Oscar Hammerstein Mgr, Arthur Hammerstein Bus. Mgr. Ticket prices ranged from 50 cents to $1.50, with boxes priced at $3 to $10 each. The proscenium was 35.5 feet wide X 38 feet high, and the stage was 46 feet deep. The auditorium was on the ground floor. The seating capacity was given as 3,815 but the breakdown doesn’t add to that. Orchestra 509, Dress Circle 115, Balcony 191, Gallery 500, Boxes 120, total: 1,435. The Music Hall had so many boxes that they must have contained many more than 120 chairs. Both theaters are listed as being lit by electricity only, no gas.
This photo used to be available to see here.
New York Theatre & Annex should be an aka.
Thanks Al great vintage photo.
Relinking to see if there is anymore info.
Marcus Loew was born on this date in 1870.
Upload of 1919’s ad of “The Heart Of Juanita”
Here is an article and photo of the Roof theater
Some cool photos on that site
1918 photo added courtesy of the Old Photographs Facebook page.
March 17, 2017 article with photos about the roof top theatres.