Crystal Hall

46 East 14th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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NitrateNerd
NitrateNerd on January 7, 2017 at 7:48 pm

bigjoe59, I believe that part of the building still remains as Max Brenners Chocolate, a store near that location. The exterior design looks the same and the building kind of gets cut off where a new building comes in, so I think that still remains.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 17, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Hello-

in the above intro it never states point blank that the building(s)which housed this theater were demolished. so does that mean that remnants of the Crystal Hall might exist within the Whole Foods and DSW stores?

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 17, 2015 at 8:45 am

Circa 1911 photo added, courtesy of Fine Art America. A broke D.W. Griffith took an acting role in 1908’s “Falsely Accused”. “The Ranchman’s Son” next door was released in 1911.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm

J.F. Lundy, I just stumbled onto that image you posted.

WOW!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 2, 2008 at 10:08 am

Warren… I was able to locate a couple of the titles listed on the marquees in the cowboy-themed photo you date around 1910-11. Both “Falsely Accused” and “The Ranchman’s Son” were short films released in 1911 per IMDB.COM. I couldn’t find any information on the other titles. However, since I have been able to identity the title “The Ranchman’s Son” (assuming the match is not purely coincidental), we now know that the Comedy Theatre adjacent to the Automatic Vaudeville did indeed operate as an early cinema – at least for a time.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 7, 2006 at 10:03 am

My mistake about the midtown Comedy Theatre. It was located at 108 West 41st Street and built in 1909. It became the Mercury Theatre in 1937 and was home to the troupe of the same name founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman, before being demolished in 1942.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 7, 2006 at 7:48 am

I’m trying to research that Comedy Theatre, but I’m guessing you might be right about it possibly being a live performance space exclusively. There was a live performance Comedy Theatre run by William Collier up on W. 36th Street circa 1910 into at least the late 1920’s. I wonder if this was an earlier incarnation, from before the theater district migrated north to Longacre Square (later known as Times Square).

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 6, 2006 at 9:33 am

Lost… I didn’t register for the Cyburbia link. If you give it a moment to load, you may still scroll down through the photos on that page despite the message advising that you have not logged in.

As I mentioned in the introduction, Zukor and his partners formed “The Automatic Vaudeville Company” to operate this arcade, and it seems from the images I just posted that Automatic Vaudeville was used as the name of the establishment. However, once the theater was installed on the second floor, the name Crystal Hall was instituted. I don’t know that Automatic Vaudeville ever applied to anything other than the penny-operated mutascopes on the ground floor, so I’m not convinced that it should be listed as a previous name. Ceartainly the “one cent” sign did not apply to the theater. According to my research, a separate 5 cents admission was charged to view the two-reel projections in the upstairs auditorium.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 6, 2006 at 8:10 am

Trolling around the web, I found some old images of the Crystal Hall. Here’s an exterior shot taken very early on (the caption reads 1900, but this may just be an approximation) when the establishment was merely a penny arcade. This interior shot of the arcade is also dated 1900. It appears to have been much larger than I assumed.

Here’s a wider angle that is dated 1910. It appears that by this time, the theater had been added on the second floor and the name Crystal Hall advertised at the top of the facade. Note the “Comedy Theatre” sign next door. Looks like a separate establishment and I wonder if it’s listed here on CT. I lifted that photo from the Cyburbia Forum website, where it may be found about a quarter of the way down the page.

Finally, at the top of this page is a 1909 evening shot of the facade with the words “Crystal Hall” clearly visible on the arch above the entrance alcove.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 7, 2006 at 8:14 am

Thanks, Tom Moran. The title “Crippled Trouble” came from a NY Times article that was published on 3/5/23, the day after the fire. The reporter or typist must have misheard the title or misread his notes.

Feuillade
Feuillade on November 6, 2006 at 7:35 pm

This is from Theodore Huff’s book “Charlie Chaplin”:

“Some idea of the traffic in Chaplin films may be gained from the records of the little Crystal Hall on 14th Street in New York. From 1914 to 1923, when the theater burned down, Chaplin was on its screen continuously except for one week, when he management tried out an imitator, with disastrous results.”

Also, I believe the account of the fire is inaccurate in at least one detail. Chaplin never made a film called “Crippled Trouble.” Although some of Chaplin’s early films did go by multiple titles, it is far more likely that the film that was on the screen when the first started was “Triple Trouble.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 20, 2006 at 4:36 pm

Yes. I thought I entered that as well, but I did have to go back and edit the description so I must have deleted it.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 20, 2006 at 4:29 am

Sorry… Thought I entered a status of closed/demolished. The building that the Crystal Hall occupied was gutted by fire in 1923 and then completely demolished and built over in 1965.