Manhattan’s Astor Place is named after John Jacob Astor (July 17, 1763 – March 29, 1848), then New York City’s wealthiest resident. THe Astor Place Opera House was opened on November 22, 1847 to serve New York’s elite.
Upper Row House in Disaster Place opened at the Olympic Theatre in December 1847, probably an attempt to ridicule the Astor Place Opera House. Class warfare erupted in the Astor Place Riot of May 10, 1849, and the commercial fortunes of the Opera House never recovered. The interior was dismantled in 1853 and the entire building was torn down in 1890.
Astor Place is still infrequently called “DisAstor Place” or “DisAster Place.”
Wikipedia: Astor Place
Astor Place is a short two-block street in NoHo/East Village, in the lower part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It runs from Broadway in the west, just below East 8th Street; through Lafayette Street, past Cooper Square and Fourth Avenue; and ends at Third Avenue, continuing as St. Mark’s Place. It borders two plazas at the intersection with Cooper Square, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Eighth Street – the Alamo Plaza and Astor Place Station Plaza. The name is also sometimes used for the neighborhood around the street. It is named for John Jacob Astor, at one time the richest person in the United States, who died in 1848; the street was named for him soon after. A $16 million reconstruction to implement a redesign of Astor Place began in 2013.
Wikipedia: Astor Opera House
The Astor Opera House, also known as the Astor Place Opera House and later the Astor Place Theatre, was an opera house in Manhattan, New York City, located on Lafayette Street between Astor Place and East 8th Street. Designed by Isaiah Rogers, the theater was conceived by impresario Edward Fry, the brother of composer William Henry Fry, who managed the opera house during its entire history.
Fry engaged the Sanquerico and Patti Opera Company under the management of John Sefton to perform the first season of opera at the house. The opera house opened on November 22, 1847 with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Ernani with Adelino Vietti in the title role.
Limiting the attendance of the lower classes was partly intended to avoid the problems of rowdyism which plagued other theaters in the entertainment district at the time, especially in the theatres on the Bowery. Nevertheless, it was the deadly Astor Place riot in 1849 which caused the theatre to close permanently – provoked by competing performances of Macbeth by English actor William Charles Macready at the Opera House (which was operating under the name “Astor Place Theatre”, not being able to sustain itself on a full season of opera) and American Edwin Forrest at the nearby Broadway Theatre. After the riot, the theater was unable to overcome the reputation of being the “Massacre Opera House” at “DisAster Place.” By May 1853, the interior had been dismantled and the furnishings sold off, with the shell of the building sold for $140,000 to the New York Mercantile Library, which renamed the building “Clinton Hall”. In 1890, in need of additional space, the Association tore down the opera house building and replaced it with an 11-story building, also called Clinton Hall, which still stands on the site.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
16 December 1847, New York (NY) Evening Express, pg. 3, col. 1:
OLYMPIC THEATRE.—A piece called “Upper Row House in Disaster place” produced on Monday night, at this house, but was not successful and, strange to say,even the boys in the pit hissed repeated during the performance. The author has very wisely concealed his name, and we have no desire to drag him forth from his obscurity. The piece is of indescribable order: and what it was about or what its aim, were alike to us as unimaginable. We suppose the author intended to ridicule the Astor place Opera House, and it certainly is a fair subject, but the attempt has been so bungling, as to fail entirely of the effect.
The City and the Theatre:
New York Play Houses from Bowling Green to Times Square
By Mary C. Henderson
New York, NY: Preston
When the smoke cleared, the Astor Place Opera House was still standing, but its reputation was mortally wounded. It figured in the burlesques of the time as “Massacre Opera House” and “Upper Row House in Disaster Place.”
Moonlight Becomes Her
By Meagan McKinney
New York, NY: Kenisgton Books
“I merely referred to the Astor Place riots as ‘Disastor Place,’ and she did not appreciate my taking her name in vain.”
Are You in the Mood?
By Stephanie Lehmann
New York, NY: Strapless/Kensington Books
On the way to her apartment in the East Village, they passed through Astor Place, one of the most chaotic intersections in the city.
“Welcome,” she said, “to DisAstor Place,” as she liked to call it.
February 18, 2008
Img9In early 1993, I was recruited to do some reporting by an old colleague from LIFE Magazine who had just started editing the alumni periodical for Cooper Union, the elite art, engineering and architecture college located on Astor Place.
Somewhat recently came news that yet another building is slated to go up on Astor Place (as if that 21-story shampoo bottle and hateful K-Mart weren’t damaging enough). Though the building it’s slated to replace is hardly a structural marvel, the new building is said to be yet another glassy, prism-like Rubik’s Cube which will further render Astor Place virtually indistinguishable from a food court at Epcot Center’s “Futureworld Pavilion.”
Goodbye open space. Hello future business and shopping district.
Astor Place = Disastor Place
5:24 PM - 23 Mar 2010
In NY, old announcement for “Astor Place” sounded like “Disaster Place.” #MTAmondegreen
9:34 AM - 20 Nov 2011
Astor Place Vintage:
By Stephanie Lehmann
New York, NY: Touchstone
ON THE WAY to De Robertis, I passed through Astor Place—or Disastor Place, as I’d come to call it.