Audubon Theatre

3950 Broadway,
New York, NY 10032

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Audubon Theatre & Ballroom

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1912 for William Fox’s fledgling film company, the Audubon Theatre & adjoining ballroom was designed by Thomas W. Lamb. The auditorium was on the main floor at the southern end of the building, while the ballroom was upstairs on the northern end of the building.

Known for its spectacular polychrome-terra cotta facade. In a lunette over the main entrance is a beautiful depiction of a ship’s prow, with the head of Neptune over it.

After spending several years playing Spanish language films and being renamed Beverly Hills Theatre, the Audubon Theatre was renamed San Juan Theatre in August 1948, and continued its Spanish language films policy.

Long a center of culture and entertaiment, the Audubon Ballroom is still best-known today as the place where Malcolm X was assasinated in 1965 while giving a speech.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the building fell into disuse and disrepair, until it was acquired by Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in the mid-1990’s.

Rather than completely raze the historic landmark, the facade along West 165th Street was preserved, while a new structure erected behind it, where the Audubon Theatre had stood. Known today as the Malcolm X and Dr Betty Shabazz Education & Research Center. Inside the center is a memorial to Malcolm X. Some parts of the Audubon Ballroom still remain in some sort of use.

The ornate terra-cotta facade was meticulously restored and brought back to its 1910’s appearance, making it quite an eye-catching sight.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 25, 2006 at 3:27 am

This theatre is mentioned in Rogelio Agrasanchez, Jr.’s excellent book MEXICAN MOVIES I N THE UNITED STATES.

The Audubon as the SAN JUAN ran Spanish Language films when the going got tough in the late forties often playing day and date with the flasgship PUERTO RICO in the South Bronx.

San Juan should be added as an alternate name here.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 18, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Here is a January 19, 1927 article about a fire in the Audubon:
http://tinyurl.com/5dw9gx

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 31, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Does anyone have any knowledge of a HUDSON theatre in north Manhattan?

It appears in the 1934 Film Daily Year Book as located at 1268 Amsterdam Avenue but newspaper ads in 1921-22 place it close to Audubon Avenue and 167th street.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 31, 2009 at 9:20 pm

My mistake, LM, it is 1968, but that still maps near Lincoln Center.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 13, 2010 at 10:37 am

I believe the reluctance by CT editors to list the aka names (Beverly Hills, San Juan) may come from the fact that these theatre names co-existed with the Audubon ballroom and that the San Juan theatre was reportedly demolished while the ballroom was not.

Please note from the introduction that the ballroom on the northern upstairs end of the building where Malcolm X was shot was a separate entity from the Fox theatre on the southern downstairs end and that the eventual demolition was only a partial remodel of a wrapped building housing both.

While the Audubon Ballroom still stands in some form, the cinema end, the Fox Audubon (Beverly Hills, San Juan) theatre listed here, is for all practical purposes, demolished.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm

any photos of the theater in its early years as the Audubon?
for instance when “Down To The Sea In Ships” played a neighborhood
engagement after an exclusive 3 month run in Times Square?

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Pretty much the same as them ‘jabbering away’ in English to many of us.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on May 5, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Click here for an exterior view of the Fox Audubon Theatre in 1929.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

The San Juan was still operating in 1977.

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