Trans-Lux 49th Street Theatre

1607 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Trans-Lux 49th Street Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Designed by Eugene DeRosa, this small newsreel theatre first opened in 1938. The entrance was on the west side of Broadway, just below the intersection with 49th Street. By the mid-1950’s, television had made newsreel houses redundant, so the Trans-Lux Theatre switched to double features or whatever first-run bookings it could get.

In 1963, it was renovated and re-named the Trans-Lux West Theatre as a link to the circuit’s brand-new Trans-Lux East Theatre on Third Avenue. Trans-Lux tried to book the two theatres day-and-date, but that didn’t prove too successful because the Broadway theatre had a quite different clientele.

The Trans-Lux West Theatre closed in the 1970’s, but re-opened in the 1980’s as the Grand Pussycat Cinema, with a spectacular neon frontage hiding its newsreel origin. The Grand Pussycat Cinema was so successful that it spawned a copycat around the corner on 49th Street called the Kitty Kat Cinema, converted from a restaurant.

Both were demolished in 1987 to make way for a skyscraper hotel.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 62 comments)

RobertR on April 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Another shot of Embassy 49
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 9, 2009 at 1:58 am

I’ve got more confusion for everyone.

There’s a December 19, 1965, Boxoffice item that contradicts some of the introduction above- saying that the Trans-Lux West was to open around Easter, 1967, that it was the Trans-Lux Broadway that was being remodeled (with plans by Drew Eberson, who had designed the Trans-Lux East) and that the Trans-Lux Broadway had opened in 1933.

Article here.

Then the April 24, 1967, issue of Boxoffice says that reconstruction had begun on the Trans-Lux Broadway, which was to reopen as the Trans-Lux West on May 22. (This Boxoffice item contradicts the earlier one by saying that the Trans-Lux Broadway had been in operation for 36 years, which would give an opening of 1931 instead of 1933. Did Boxoffice also confuse this house with the earlier one in the Brill Building?)

Article here.

I do find Boxoffice referring to this house as the Trans-Lux 49th Street in issues from 1956 and 1957, but before and after that the magazine always calls it the Trans-Lux Broadway.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on November 9, 2009 at 8:10 am

Interesting find, Joe.

The Trans-Lux West name did not start until 1967, not 1963 as the intro states. The New York Times claims the original opening year was 1936.

William on November 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Well the Trans-Lux Theatre in the Brill Building was ripped out in 1938. Warren had an opening date for this theatre as Dec. 28th. 1937.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

This was the Embassy 49 for only one year in 1976. By 1977 it was the Pussycat.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Image of the Trans-Lux during a run of La Cucaracha, Boxoffice, January 12, 1935:

William on June 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Gerald, your last image post is under the wrong theatre. It should be under the Trans-Lux Modern Theatre, the one with two screens. Which was in the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway. This theatre opened in 1937.

RickB on April 16, 2011 at 9:50 am

Here is a screen capture from the TV series Taxi showing this theater’s marquee (as the Embassy 49) at far left. It’s from a first-season episode titled, appropriately enough, Hollywood Calling.

fred1 on August 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Was this theater was known as th the Byransten west during the booking of Andy Warhol’s Frankenstien

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm

This theatre was listed as Bryanston in Variety but advertised as Bryan West in 1975.

It opened “Frankenstein” as the Trans-Lux West.

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