2nd Avenue Theatre

35 - 37 Second Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

Looks like the street view has been corrected to the right side of the street. Also appears as if I need to get my eyes checked. If you zoom in close enough to the light grey door just to the left of the Heartbreak Restaurant building, the street number “33” can be seen near the bottom of the door. That would mean the building housing the Heartbreak would have been on the lot for 35-37 Second Avenue, where the 2nd Avenue Theatre once stood.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I wonder if we have the correct address for this theatre. A NY Times article from 1958 (as posted about by Lost Memory a number of years back) notes the theatre was demolished and replaced by a parking lot. However, if you look at the street view above (which is currently facing the wrong side of the street and must be swung around show to the west side of the avenue), the structure that currently occupies the address range of 35-37 2nd Avenue (mid-block, to the left of the red painted Heartbreak Restaurant) appears to date back far earlier than 1958. The building that is now occupied by the Heartbreak currently has an East 2nd Street address. It’s possible that this structure sits where the auditorium of the 2nd Avenue once sat and replaced, in turn, the parking lot that had first replaced the theatre.

There is an undated “early 20th Century” image on this page (just scroll down a little), depicting several marquees along lower 2nd Avenue. On the lower left side of the image, one can make out marquees for the Woolworth Theatre aka Majestic, Photoplays aka New Law and just beyond that, a marquee advertising “Tickets” that just might be the 2nd Avenue Theatre. Any takers on that idea?

AlAlvarez on January 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I found some New York Times articles about the re-naming of the Jolson Theatre (2nd Avenue & 59th Street) the MOLLY PICON in 1942.

The 1930 production of THE GIRL OF YESTERDAY took place at the Folks Theatre (Village East), and it was never renamed but became know as the MOLLY PICON FOLKS Theatre in 1931 anyway.

I cannot find any proof this theatre was ever named MOLLY PICON or that it showed movies past 1915. Does anyone know what years THIS 2nd Avenue theatre showed movies?

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on November 6, 2007 at 1:11 pm

Molly Picon was the theater’s top star in those days and probably controlled it with her husband-manager (a common practice in the Yiddish theatrical business since the late 19th century). Yiddish theaters were frequently named after the star-manager, so it is not be unlikely that for a few seasons it was known as Molly Picon Theater or Molly Picon’s Second Avenue Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 6, 2007 at 12:53 pm

I agree that the photo shows Molly Picon’s name as billing and not the name of the theater. Most of the NY Times stories that I have looked at, refer to this theater as the Second Avenue Theater. The earlier articles refer to it as Kessler’s Theater or Kessler’s Second Avenue Theater. One article, I think was from 1931 called it the Molly Picon Theater. I guess it doesn’t hurt to have Molly Picon Theater as an aka name.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 6, 2007 at 12:39 pm

The photo that KenRoe posted above would appear, on first glance, to show the theatre under the Molly Picon name. However, I think what we’re seeing in that image is the very prominently displayed top billing for Ms. Picon in the 2nd Avenue Theatre’s current production at the time.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 6, 2007 at 12:26 pm

That link expired pretty quick. I hope you were a fast reader. Anyway, this website claims that the Second Avenue Theater was renamed the Molly Picon Theater. “In the fall of 1930, back at the Second Avenue Theatre, by now renamed the Molly Picon Theatre, she was performing in The Girl of Yesterday (entering via a rope) and The Love Thief to twenty-seven hundred patrons a week”.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 6, 2007 at 12:10 pm

It was the National Theater as Judith already posted. If you want to read the full NY Times May 15, 1920 article about David Kessler, I found a link to a pdf file here.

Judith Thissen
Judith Thissen on November 6, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Probably Thomashevsky’s National Theater. Both Yiddish theaters had a main auditorium for legitimate drama (2000 seats) and a 1000-seat rooftop theater for movies & vaudeville. If there was a strike in the Yiddish theater, the managers would sometimes switch to movies in the main theater in order to break the strike.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 6, 2007 at 11:54 am

Hey Lost, what was the other downtown theatre being mourned according to that Times article?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 6, 2007 at 9:06 am

David Kessler died in 1920.

NY Times May 15, 1920

DAVID KESSLER DIES; NOTED YIDDISH ACTOR; Stricken While Acting Role in a Tolstoy Play, His Death Follows an Operation.

David Kessler, one of the leading Yiddish actors in the United States, star and manager of Kessler’s Second Avenue Theatre, died yesterday afternoon in the Beth Israel Hospital, at 70 Jefferson Street, in his sixty-first year.

Demolished in 1958.

NY Times September 21, 1958

TROUBLE ON SECOND AVENUE; Yiddish Actors Mourn Loss of Two Famous Downtown Theatres

THE end of nearly twenty years of illusion was in sight last week along Second Avenue, once the thriving world capital of the Yiddish theatre. Wreckers were dismembering the Second Avenue Theatre for a parking lot.