249 West 42nd Street,
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The Harem Theater was carved from existing retail space around 1970, and featured XXX porn films on a double-bill grind for the better part of a quarter century. NYC records indicate that an eating establishment had previously occupied the site since 1964 and before that tenants included an Adler Shoe shop as far back as the 1940’s (Adler specialized in discreet “elevator shoes” for vertically challenged men).
The final C of O for the Harem shows 199 seats on the first floor plus a 60-seat balcony and projection booth on the mezzanine level. The marquee of the theater faced directly across 42nd Street toward the time-ravaged facade of the old Anco Theater at what was certainly the most dangerous end of the increasingly rough and tumble Deuce. By the 1980’s, the Anco would itself make the switch from double-bill action and horror films to XXX porn. By this time the Harem had become a haven for crack addicts and other malfeasants.
The Harem was closed sometime in 1995-96, when just about the entire north side of 42nd Street from Eighth Avenue to the Selwyn Building was condemned and taken by the City through eminent domain for redevelopment. In 1997 the theater and adjacent buildings were demolished to make way for a high-rise Westin Hotel and the 13-screen Loews 42nd Street E-Walk that opened in 1999 and is now run by the Regal Entertainment Group.
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