A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 08, 2004
Theater Row
West 42nd Steet became "Theater Row" in the 1970s. In recent years, "Theater Row" has been redeveloped to accommodate new housing and newer theaters. The shows are small, Off-Off Broadway offerings.

21 November 1976, New York Times, pg. 268:
Signs of Life
On 42d Street
(...)
Several tenement buildings across from Manahattan Plaza are to be converted into a "theater row" in which three dozen theater companies have already expressed an interest.

10 December 1976, New York Times, pg. 59:
Staging a 42d St. Transformation
(...)
Instead, encouraged by Mr. Moss, the organization decided to create a "theater row."

1 September 1977, New York Times, pg. 62:
42d Street's Future Taking Shape
As Building of Theater Row Starts
(...)
By the end of the year, the developers expect that West 42d Street will be a new center for Off Off Broadway theater. Now dank, gutted structures, the buildings will house Theater Row - five showcase theaters, offices for resident companies and rehearsal and classroom facilities - all to be ready for occupancy by early December.
(...)
Three theater groups have occupied Theater Row since 1975. Bob Moss, the director of Playwrights Horizons, moved his company onto the block on a friend's dare and the Lion Theater Company and Nat Horne Theater moved in shortly afterward.

"I met with Fred Papert an said, 'Come on let's save this,'" Mr. Moss recalled. "The Off Off Broadway community knows all about recycling. New York is full of people with crazy plans, but now Theater Row is a reality."

The first tenants will include the Actors and Directors Laboratory, the Harlem Children's Theater Company, the South Street Theater, the Black Theater Alliance, an association of 53 theater and dance groups, International Arts Relations Inc., a Hispanic theater company.

21 November 2002, New York Times, pg. E1:
Last month, however, with almost no fanfare and the paint still drying, a new Theater Row began to emerge from the whirl of construction along that block. The first building to open was the Theater Row complex at 410-412 West 42nd Street, and even in a city teeming with famous-name arenas, big Broadway star chambers and closet-size black boxes, it is an unheard-of theatrical real estate phenomenon: five new Off Broadway theaters under one roof. (Little of the old theaters remains except an interior wall here and there.)

It is a major piece in the revitalization of what is said to be the biggest Off Broadway theater redevelopment in New York history. At the other end of the block, at 422 West 42nd Street, is the Little Shubert, a 499-seat, $12 million house built by the Shubert Organization, Broadway's most powerful landlord, for developing work for its bigger stages. It is expected to open next month with ''Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails,'' Mr. Tune's first show in New York in a decade.

In between the five-theater complex and the Little Shubert is the Playwrights Horizons' new home at 416 West 42nd Street, which will have two theaters, offices and rehearsal space. It too is nearing completion and is expected to open in January. Hovering above all the theaters is a new 40-story apartment complex, the air rights of which paid for some of the stage-building below.

With a rejuvenated Times Square beginning to spill into adjacent neighborhoods and additional residential development on 42nd Street and 10th and 11th Avenues, the developers of these eight new theaters are hoping that this stretch of 42nd Street, once synonymous with massage parlors and sex shops, will finally be transformed into Off Broadway's official main stem.
Posted by Barry Popik
Streets • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 08, 2004 • Permalink