Gotham Theatre

165 East 125th Street,
New York, NY 10035

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The Gotham Music Hall first opened in 1903, a time when Harlem was a predominatly affluent white section of uptown Manhattan. The Gotham Music Hall was built solely for plays and vaudeville, with a 1,750-seat auditorium and stage housing that occupied the better part of a square block. It would probably be forgotten today except for the fact that in 1904, owners Sullivan & Kraus hired a young architect named Thomas W. Lamb to do some minor alterations. It was Lamb’s first theatre-related commission, and he went on from there to become one of the masters.

The Gotham Music Hall was taken over by William Fox in 1908 and was operated as a vaudeville & movie theatre. Movies creeped in full-time and eventually replaced stage attractions, but the Gotham Theatre was too old-fashioned to keep up with newer theatres in the area. Over the years, it went through various name changes and reductions in seating capacity— the Odeon, Bon Ton, New 125th Street, and finally the 985-seat Triboro Theatre.

It was demolished in 1965.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 1, 2005 at 12:35 pm

Several photos showing the marquee in the background are featured in the recent book, “Metropolitan New York’s Third Avenue Railway System,” by Charles L. Ballard. In all cases, the name on the marquee is TRI-BORO, with a hyphen not quite in the middle. At the time, the Tri-Boro was showing Spanish-language films.

AlAlvarez on December 25, 2006 at 12:23 am

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

bobmarshall on October 16, 2007 at 4:26 pm

In her bio, “Some of These Days,” Sophie Tucker mentions amateur nights “Up at the 125th Street Theater, corner of 3rd Avenue.” (she did play there.) There’s no doubt it was the latter day Tri-Boro. I grew up in the neighborhood in the 40s & 50s, and recall their showing Italian, then Spanish films, live theater (“Passion Play” an annual event), and a 3 films a day grind house. It was a fairly large theater, with two balconies, and an “island” box office outside.

AlAlvarez on February 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm

This theatre had a history of being raided by police for presenting scantily clad women (1930’s style) in live burlesque shows.

Tinseltoes on March 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I wonder if this could have survived beyond 1965 under a different name? The January 21, 1967 issue of the Amsterdam News carries an ad for the Latino Theatre, described as “Harlem’s Newest,” with an address of 125th Street between Third & Lexington Avenues and a phone number of 722-9362. The current booking was a double bill of “The Disorderly Orderly” and “The Buccaneer,” but due to arrive on January 25th for a full week was a “live” presentation, The Great Pan-American Circus, featuring trapeze artists, clowns, lions, and chimpanzees. Such a show would have required a large stage, and this probably still had one. The only other candidate in the area would have been Proctor’s 125th, but I believe it was between Park and Lexington, not Third and Lexington.

AlAlvarez on March 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm

That sounds like the Boricua.


Tinseltoes on March 3, 2010 at 8:50 am

No, the Boricua (original Star) was around 107th Street, well below the Latino Theatre on 125th Street.

AlAlvarez on August 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Does anyone know anything more about the Teatro Latino on 125th street?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 18, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Ruth Crosby Dimmick’s Our Theatres To-day and Yesterday,published in 1913, says that the Gotham Theatre was opened by Sullivan & Kraus in 1901, and operated as a variety theater. In 1908, it was taken over by William Fox who operated it as a combination vaudeville and movie house.

In 1906, Sullivan & Kraus paid $500 to the City of New York for a one-year license for the Gotham Music Hall, 163-167 E. 125th Street, according to The City Record of May 10 that year. Gotham Music Hall was apparently the theater’s name before Fox leased it.

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