175 8th Avenue,
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This former Chelsea movie house opened as the Elgin Theatre in 1942, designed by architect Simon B. Zelnik in elegant Art Moderne style with seating for 600. It was located on 8th Avenue, at W. 19th Street. By 1950 it was operated by Ligget-Florin Booking Service. Later, the Elgin Theatre screened Spanish-language films, and still later, revival and cult films as the Elgin Cinema. The Elgin Cinema ended its movie house days briefly as a gay adult theater. However, even as an adult theatre, midnight movies, including “El Topo”, “Pink Flamingos”, and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, continued to be screened. A rent increase forced the Elgin Cinema to close in 1978.
In 1982, architect Hugh Hardy was hired to convert the completely gutted interior of the Elgin Cinema into a 472-seat dance performance space, while preserving and restoring the beautiful Moderne style facade and marquee of the theatre.
The venue was renamed the Joyce Theater, for the daughter of one of the main benefactors of the renovation of the theater. Today the Joyce Theater is considered one of the city’s main dance performance spaces, and hosts audiences of over 140,000 each year.
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