Erlanger Theatre

21st Street and Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19013

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Color sketch of exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

After the original Forrest Theatre was demolished in 1927 on South Broad Street, the two theater operators went their separate ways. The Shubert organization built a new Forrest Theatre on Walnut Street. Abraham Lincoln Erlanger built his own theater, the Erlanger Theatre on the northwest corner of 21st Street and Market Street. Prior to the decision of the Shuberts to build separately, this theater was going to be called the New Forrest Theatre.

The Erlanger Theatre was Philadelphia’s most elaborate legit theater ever and one of the most magnificent ever built in the United States. The exterior was Georgian. The elegant interior was furnished in Napoleonic French and other period styles. Three lobbies, the grand stairs, lounges, and the 1,890 seat auditorium were elaborated decorated and furnished with imported marble, gold leaf, murals, tapestries, crystal chandeliers, crystal mirrors, antique wood-work, hand wrought ironwork, and elaborate furniture. The Spanish Lounge for smoking was especially magnificent. Philadelphia theater architects Hoffman-Henon designed the theater.

The Erlanger Theatre opened October 23, 1927 with the musical show "Criss Cross." The theatre was also equipped to show movies. RKO began a lease on September 29, 1929 to show first run movies. RKO’s first “talkie”, "Street Girl" had its premiere here. By 1930 RKO gave up. In 1932, William Goldman, formerly manager of Stanley Warner’s local operations, leased the theater.

The Erlanger Theatre was famous for Broadway musical stage shows such as "Guys and Dolls" "West Side Story" "Man Of La Mancha" "My Fair Lady" Movies were also shown. The theater ceased showing Howard Hughes' movie "The Outlaw" (1943) because of church objections. Goldman couldn’t show all the movies he wanted because Warner Brothers controlled so many other theaters and had such leverage. So, Goldman filed an antitrust lawsuit that forced Hollywood studios to sell off their movie theaters.

Starting in 1968, the Erlanger Theatre became a restaurant, a night club, a venue for rock shows, and had great success with more legit stage shows. Overall, the Erlanger Theatre continued in the red, and was demolished in 1978. The Philadelphia Historical Commission seemed to note its importance in taking many photos. The site became a parking lot for three decades. In 2008, the Murano residential tower was built at its old site.

Contributed by Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 13, 2008 at 7:45 am

Photos here View link but you need a subscription to make them larger.

Type Erlanger http://diamond.temple.edu:81/search/ for exterior photos of protesters upset a Communist rally was being held inside the theater, and a view of the auditorium facing the balcony.

Type Erlanger View link
for more exterior photos.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 22, 2009 at 5:17 am

Chuck; here is the full address of the 1938 photo;
View link
The source home page of the photos is:
View link

All work ok with me, so if you are having a problem opening them, it could be a settings issue on your firewall or as LM stated above, your service provider.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 22, 2009 at 5:58 am

The part about the illegal sign was mentioned on some other 1938 photos. It apparently had something to do with the projection of the marquee over the street past some statutory limit.

andyp
andyp on February 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I saw Bette Midler back in 1974 or 1975 with her “Clams on a Half Shell” Show. A nice place for stage shows.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

listed on October 23rd, 1927 as an ligitimate theatre

http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2023/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201927/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201927a%20-%202141.pdf

not an grand opening ad.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater