Harlem Opera House

211 W. 125th Street,
New York, NY 10027

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iatse311 on March 3, 2011 at 11:02 am

View link
the marquee of the bowling alley after conversion

iatse311 on July 21, 2010 at 9:35 am

search harlem…proctor’s 125th, and harlem opera house among others…

spectrum on May 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

ccording to the Google Maps, the Harlem Opera House’s address is a little bit down to the east from where the Apollo and Victoria are located. There is no sign of the building now- a modern building is on the site. The Apollo and Victoria are right next door to each other; in fact, the Apollo’s auditorium goes off to the right from the lobby, and the Victoria’s goes to the left, so the back of their respective stage houses are butting up against each other.

AlAlvarez on March 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Still listed as open in the 1959 Film Daily Yearbook and operated by Leo Brecher.

AlAlvarez on February 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

Still listed as open in the 1953 Film Daily Yearbook.

chinkel on January 8, 2009 at 11:43 pm

My late grandfather, Harry Hinkel, grew up in a living area behind the old Harlem Opera House, sometime between 1904 (his birth year) and the 1920’s when he left New York. His mother ran a boarding house in the space, and his father was the opera house electrician. I have no evidence or photos of anything to back this up, only stories from my grandfather. It would be great to learn more about this! Thanks!

jflundy on October 4, 2008 at 2:48 pm

The 1930 Red Book Guide for Manhattan and the Bronx list the Harlem Opera as a Loew’s house.

In 1922, the Victoria is listed at 233 W.125th Street, seating 2463. Hurtig & Seamens New Theater seating 1863 is listed on W.125th near 8th Avenue.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 5, 2008 at 10:46 am

Here’s a new link to an image described above on 7/31/05:
View link

nia10026 on August 23, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Does anyone know where I can view that 1949 photograph of 125th Street that Bryan Krefft mentioned? I tried to view it through the link provided but was unable to. Any information that can be provided would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 28, 2006 at 8:03 am

The Harlem Opera House is listed in the 1897-98 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide. B. Lichtenstein is listed as the “sole prop.” Admission prices ranged from 25 cents to $1.50. The seating was : Orchestra: 553, Balcony: 402, Gallery: 600; total: 1,555 seats. The proscenium opening was 32 feet wide x 36 feet high; the stage was 39 feet deep. The theatre was on the ground floor, had both electric and gas illumination, and had 10 members in the house orchestra.

AlAlvarez on March 26, 2006 at 7:57 am

Good grief, Warren.

Where do you get these great pics? You are the real treasure here!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 31, 2005 at 6:49 am

Here’s an early image of the Harlem Opera House, by which time it had been taken over by Hurtig & Seamon from Oscar Hammerstein, the original owner. One auditorium (with center entrance) was the Music Hall, with vaudeville and burlesque. The other, at right, was a cinema:

Hibi on January 26, 2005 at 8:20 am

I recently caught The Pawnbroker (great movie, hadnt seen it before as I was too young when it came out) on TCM and there was a brief scene where Rod Steiger was walking down 125th St. It showed the Apollo and the Loew’s Victoria. Couldnt make out what was playing at the Apollo, but The L Shaped Room with Leslie Caron was on the Victoria marquee….

sarahadler on November 18, 2004 at 1:55 pm

This is confusing because the original Hurtig and seamon was adjacent to the harlem opera house, according to 1906 postcard. when did the apollo move down the street, or is that just the offices next door to the HOH?

ifemorena on September 2, 2004 at 2:43 pm

thanks for all of the info on the harlem opera house.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 2, 2004 at 1:44 pm

The Harlem Opera House was further east than the Loew’s Victoria and not “right next door” to the Apollo. For proof of that, look at the photograph mentioned above in Bryan Krefft’s posting of April 27th, 2004. Click “here” to view it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 11, 2004 at 4:13 pm

In those early days, The New York Times wasn’t as important as it is today and many theatres didn’t advertise in it. You should look in other newspapers of that time, especially ones that covered uptown Manhattan and Harlem. Perhaps the Amsterdam News was publishing then. I don’t know for sure.

mr3d on August 11, 2004 at 2:23 pm

I have searched the NEW YORK TIMES archives and have trouble finding ads for the HOH. I am specifically looking for ANYTHING on May 7 of 1908 and 1914. I have a print item from then, but can’t find it in the paper. I heard a rumor the theater name changed at some point and then back again (not the Appollo). Any help would be appreciated.

euphrades on June 23, 2004 at 2:20 pm

I have an original program from the Harlem Opera House from 1907, complete and in perfect condition, not for sale but thought somebody might like to see it. Also have a color program from Alhambra Theatre in harlem, 1907 in beautiful condition, not for sale but maybe somebody would like to see it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 19, 2004 at 10:56 am

Some of the above is incorrect. Ella Fitzgerald was “discovered” at the Apollo Theatre, where she won the Amateur Night competition of November 21, 1934…In 1935, Frank Schiffman & Leo Brecher, who had been running the Harlem Opera House, took over the Apollo after the death of its owner, Sidney Cohen. To end the longtime competition between the two theatres, and also because the Apollo had more seats, Schiffman & Brecher kept its stage show policy and switched the Harlem Opera House to movies only. It remained a movie theatre until the 1950s, when it was converted into a bowling alley. The structure was demolished in 1969…The Harlem Opera House and the adjacent theatre that eventually became the Apollo had separate auditoriums behind an office building that fronted on 125th Street. Only the entrances and lobbies of the two theatres were in that building. During the short reign of Oscar Hammerstein, he used the future Apollo as a concert hall. The two theatres eventually fell under separate ownership, and competed with each other with vaudeville and stage plays until 1927, when the by then named Apollo switched to Minsky’s burlesque. In 1933, it was shut down by the police, and taken over by Sidney Cohen, who started the Apollo’s policy as a showcase for black performers in January, 1934.