Riverside Theatre

2561 Broadway,
New York, NY 10025

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The Riverside Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Riverside Theatre was built for the Shubert Brothers in 1912, along with the next-door Riviera Theatre, which has another theatre in the same building called the Japanese Gardens. All three theatres were designed by Thomas W. Lamb. The Riverside Theatre could seat 1,710. It, along with the Riviera Theatre, was part of the so-called “Subway Circuit” of legitimate houses in its earlier years.

In its later years, the Riverside Theatre (and Riviera Theatre) were part of the Skouras Theaters Corp. chain and later United Artists chain. Closed around May 1974, all three theatres have long ago been razed, and an apartment tower sits on the site today.

Contributed by Jean

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

Thank you Joe. These images appear to be rare.

Movieplace
Movieplace on May 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

The mural above the proscenium appeared to be Christopher Columbus discovering “America”. There seemed to be that theme running through this house. A panel in the ceiling depicted Columbus taking his case to the King and Queen of Spain.

Stephen Paley
Stephen Paley on January 24, 2014 at 2:44 am

Among the Broadway shows that were rehearsed in the Japanese Gardens space above the Rivera was “Prettybelle,” starring Angela Lansbury, directed by Gower Champion and with a score by Jule Styne. The show was a disaster and it closed in Boston.

Movieplace
Movieplace on January 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm

There was an article related to this show rehearsing there. There was no heat in the space, something that David Merrick had not noticed as he had looked at the space in late summer. Also I do not think that there was any real mention of what the space had been once upon a time.

mfarricker_1
mfarricker_1 on March 27, 2014 at 10:40 am

The Riverside/Riviera Theaters were a big part of my youth during the 40s and 50s. I was an usher and my sister, Ann, was the cashier, after school hours. My mother was the matron at the Riviera. Most of my friends were ushers/usherettes, too. We were all enamored with the theater one way or another. Most of us were attending theater schools, such as the High School of Performing Arts, studying acting, dance, directing,etc.. My interest lay in directing/acting. We were all involved in local amateur theater. I eventually landed on Madison Ave. as an Art Director, then owner of an ad agency.

 Many wonderful memories of the Riverside, include the special "previews" that Mr. Spiros Skouras
                  

would present there and we’d see the great stars of Hollywood. There’s not too much I don’t remember about those three great theaters and wonderful times. In fact, I hope to include many of the stories in my book/memoirs. To be continued. Manhattan Marty.

Movieplace
Movieplace on March 27, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Did you take any pictures of the theaters? Was there really a connector tunnel in the basements of the Riverside and Riviera? Did you ever explore the backstage areas? There are so many questions. I am incredibly obsessed with these theaters and Thomas Lamb (the architect of these palaces).

Movieplace
Movieplace on March 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Do you recall the orchestra pit in either theater not being covered? Some of the other postings indicated various organ installations over the years. Do you recall a working Mighty Wurlitzer (or any other brand)?

DavidAE
DavidAE on March 29, 2014 at 7:17 am

No organ listed at theaterorgans.com for this theater. The other two had Moller organs.

mfarricker_1
mfarricker_1 on March 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

Answers to Movieplace from Mar.27. As head usher of the Riverside during the late 40’s early 50’s,part of my job was to close and lock the theater after the last show. Many times, I’d go back stage and upstairs to explore the dressing rooms,etc. that were used by the cast members when the house was still a legitimate theater. Going through the dressing rooms was like a sir-real experience. My flashlight would cast an eerie glow in the rooms, as it pieced the dust and cob webs. Old costumes were still hanging in the closets and brushes, cosmetic jars, etc. were left on the make-up tables. I always felt that I was not alone and the ghosts of yesterday were all around me. I imagined that I could hear the pit orchestra playing and the audience applauding. To me, the Riverside wasn’t only a theater, it was a thrilling life experience. When it was raised, part of me died with it. I shall always cherish those memories and the many more I treasure, but cannot relate. Too little time and too little space.

In answer to your question....Yes, there was a tunnel under the stage, leading to the pit. Furthermore, the great Max Steiner, was once the conductor of the orchestra, during his early days after arriving in America. I hope this helps you.
                  

Manhattan Marty.

mfarricker_1
mfarricker_1 on April 5, 2014 at 10:13 am

I noticed that a few members had a question about a club being near the Riverside Theater, between 95 and 96 streets. Yes, there were two clubs, one on the west side of Broadway and one the east side. One was called the Blue Orchid, but I can’t recall the other name. This was during the 40s and 50s, but they are probably long gone. The Chinese restaurant, Gong Ho, was close by, too.

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