President Theatre

247 W. 48th Street,
New York, NY 10036

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48th Street Theatre

Additional Info

Architects: Paul C. Hunter

Previous Names: Edyth Totten Theatre, Midget Theatre, Artef Theatre, Caruso Theatre, Hindenburg Theatre, Acme Theatre, American Show Shop Theatre, 48th Street Theatre

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President Theatre

With a long history of showing movies in between flop stage shows, the President Theatre deserves a listing here as possibly the only specialized Scandinavian movie theatre in New York. This was during the 1938-1945 war years when it was a full time cinema. It also showed films as the Edyth Totten Theatre (1927), as the President Theatre (1931, 1937, 1945), the Hindenburg Theatre (1932) showing German movies, the Caruso Theatre (1935) showing Italian movies, the Acme Theatre (1937) and the American Show Shop Theatre (1938).

It opened as the Edyth Totten Theatre on October 6, 1926 with the play “Secret Sands”. It bacame the Midget Theatre when it was taken over by an all-midget company and then became the Artef Theatre. Best known as the President Theatre from around 1929 with several other names in between until 1955 when it became Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop, closing in 1956. It was taken over as additional space for the adjacent Mamma Leone’s Restaurant, and was demolished in 1988.

Contributed by Al Alvarez

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

robboehm on March 6, 2009 at 8:14 pm

For more information about Manhattan theatres which had legitimate status at one time I recommend the book, Broadway’s Lost Theatres. It is soft cover black and white and has photos of every theatre contained therein. Most times it also lists seating capacities and the architect’s name and gives a very interest history. It is very sad because it’s so visual.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 10, 2009 at 10:36 am

The Italian film Figaro e la sua gran giornata, by Mario Camerini, began a run here in late October 1933 when it was known as the Caruso Theatre. The New York Times found it entertaining; Variety magazine lamented the lack of subtitles.

kencmcintyre on August 10, 2009 at 11:02 am

Were there any Scandinavian midgets?

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on March 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

This photograph of the Artef Theatre marquee and the Longacre Theatre along West 48th Street was taken in 1935 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 19, 2013 at 6:48 am

No doubt, this theater’s name change to the President was associated with the opening of the President Hotel, across the street. The Hotel, dating to the late 1920’s – and depicted in the 1935 photo posted above by Brad Smith – is still in operation today, under the Best Western banner.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on September 1, 2016 at 7:55 am

On September 2nd, 1944, this had a re-launching as the 48th St. Cinema, advertised as “New York’s Newest Luxury Theatre.” On opening day, and again on the Labor Day holiday, special matinees for children were held, offering a “live” puppet show.

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