Theatre Unique

136 East 14th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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AlAlvarez on September 7, 2011 at 11:05 am

Following this thread (and not the Theatre Unique) this photo shows that the Olympic Theatre was indeed located inside the Tammany Hall building as stated by several sources.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 6, 2010 at 10:38 am

An article titled Light and the Moving Picture Show appeared in the February, 1908, issue of a trade journal called The Illuminating Engineer. Several paragraphs are about the Theatre Unique, though for some reason the magazine chose to call it by the slogan that appeared on its vertical electric sign, “The World in Motion” instead of by the name arched over its entrance. There is one photo of the theater, but it is only a daytime view so we don’t get to see the lighting which the article describes so admiringly.

Among the details about the house the article reveals is that the main floor seated 514 patrons, and there was a mezzanine that provided an additional 150 seats. Admission to the main floor was ten cents, but a seat in the mezzanine cost twenty cents.

AlAlvarez on July 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

The 1934 Film Daily Yearbook shows a STAR theatre at 136 Third Avenue with 290 seats as well as the larger Lexington STAR location. Does anyone have any more info on this?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Here’s a new direct link to an exterior view that shows how Theatre Unique influenced the styles of later movie “palaces”: View link

shoeshoe14 on November 2, 2007 at 4:41 pm

Sorry, off topic here, but Warren, just because a modern-day vaudevillian who wrote the most complete vaudeville retrospect who goes by a stage name, you write him off. I don’t think that’s fair. What about Dr. Seuss? Do kids write him off because he didn’t put his real name – Theodor Seuss Geisel? No.

“Anyway, Trav S.D.’s writing on theater, art, politics, and culture has appeared in The Village Voice, American Theatre, Time Out New York, The New York Sun, and Reason, among other publications. His plays have been produced in venues throughout New York City and across the country, and since 1996 he has been top banana at the American Vaudeville Theatre. By day, as Travis Stewart, he toils as a mild-mannered director of development at Theater for the New City (NYC). He lives in Brooklyn.”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 30, 2007 at 9:17 am

I would question anything contained in a book written by someone hiding behind a pseudonym like “Trav S.D.” (travesty). Tony Pastor’s Theatre was adjacent to Tammany Hall, and not part of it. It was on the east side of Tammany Hall, with the Academy of Music on the west side of TH. Because some vaudeville managers had offices in Tammany Hall doesn’t mean that vaudeville was actually presented there. Sullivan had his hand in many theatrical enterprises, including the Dewey on 14th Street, the Savoy on 34th Street, and the Gotham in Harlem.

shoeshoe14 on October 29, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Regarding my last post…“No Applause – Just Throw Money”, the book that made vaudeville famous by Trav S.D. has on the first pictures section, 2nd page on the bottom, a photo of Tammany Hall with the caption, “New York’s Tammany Hall was home base to no less than two major vaudeville managers. Tony Pastor’s theater was located right in the building. Tammany politician "Big Tim” Sullivan was to start one of the premier circuits of the Pacific Northwest with his partner John Considine."

There you have it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 19, 2007 at 10:57 am

For whatever reasons, this doesn’t turn up in the search engine if one enters Theatre Unique. But if one enters just Unique, it turns up along with other theatres that have Unique in the name. Strange!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 16, 2007 at 9:35 pm

Oh, and I don’t know that you’d call it vaudeville proper, but I’ll bet that amongst the shenanigans at Tammany Hall, there were a number of private and intimate, er, burlesque-style performances given for the pleasure of certain political big wigs!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 16, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Warren… Adolph Zukor’s Automatic Vaudeville (and, later, Crystal Hall) would have also been in competition with the Theatre Unique, just a couple of blocks to the west on East 14th Street. Both theatres started out as penny arcades and each featured a similar vaulted archway entrance, as you can compare with this photo. To be sure, the Unique’s entryway was far more elaborate than that of Zukor’s establishment.

As a side note… I was wondering if you had ever run across any info on the Comedy Theatre depicted in this 1910 image of East 14th on Union Square. I’ve tried researching it online, but I’ve come up empty. It’s possible that the theatre never showed movies and has no place here, but I thought you might have run across it in your studies. Not to be confused, obviously, with William Collier’s Comedy Theatre on West 41st Street.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 16, 2007 at 5:01 pm

I somehow doubt that Tammany Hall ever presented vaudeville. But it was surrounded by theatres that did.

shoeshoe14 on October 16, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Right. There’s a mention of this in Trav S.D.’s “No Applause, Just Throw Money”, book on vaudeville.

It also mentions that Tammany Hall presented vaudeville as well.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 16, 2007 at 8:57 am

The 14th Street entrance to Theatre Unique provided a sneak preview of the great movie palaces to come: