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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

New Amsterdam Theatre: 1905

New Amsterdam Theatre: 1905

New York circa 1905. "New Amsterdam Theatre." Looking like it just popped up out of the toaster. Now playing: "Trilby." Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

Scales

Penny scales were a common sight were common inside and outside many establishments. Since there were no bathroom scales of the sort we have, the only place you could get weighed was at the doctor's office or at one of these penny scales. Even into the 1960s they were common enough at Woolworth's, theatres, and restrooms.

So much to like

Beside the other comments, especially painting a new sign for each show, check out the "ghost" horse to the right of the hydrant. The "trapdoor" standing open in front of the Bowyer Restaurant window. Talk about a safety hazard. On the left side of the building on 41st street the metal stairs that go from the next to top floor to the floor below it. They are partially enclosed. Maybe this was how you reached the roof garden theater and it kept the customers out of the weather.

Why the shutters on the 42nd st building?

Sol Bloom, Part II

Sol Bloom had arrived in New York City just two years earlier from Chicago (scene of his World's Fair triumph), but he was just getting started. He represented an Upper East Side district in Congress from 1920 until his death in 1949, for ten of those years as chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He played important roles in the founding of the United Nations and the nation of Isreal.

Advance Display Cases

I like Doblin's remote display cases. I wonder how long they were around?

Old New Amsterdam

I was a vacation relief projectionist at the New Amsterdam in the mid 1970s. There were mushrooms growing in the balcony from the leaks in the ceiling. As far as I know it was never a porn venue but we showed typical slice and dice movies, usually badly dubbed foreign films. It was so sad.

Thanks

To Rusty for clearing that up; I was wondering where the actual 'theatre' was, remembering movies about Ziegfeld and his wonderful shows.

What this scene needs for sparkle

Another dreary street-capade that would have come alive with a few reclining gnomes here and there. Look at what just one did for that fancy Detroit house.

Mary Poppins

I took my 10 year old to see Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam back in '08. It is very nice on the interior these days. Of course, I don't know what it was like back in 19-aught-five

Facades and Reality

The perceived address prestige of one street vs. the next in New York always amuses me. Ironically, the actual stage house and auditorium for the New Amsterdam aren't located on 42nd Street at all, but rather on the far less prestigious 41st Street, across from the Nederlander Theatre. Several others, for example, the Winter Garden Theatre, are also guilty of this (the Winter Garden facade is on Broadway, but the house is on 7th Avenue).

Dwarfed

I'll leave it to someone else to find a good contemporary image, but it's striking to compare this photo, where the theater dwarfs its neighbors, with the present day, where the same facade is dwarfed by its new neighbors a hundred years later.

Cool things: Anna Held Cigars! I didn't know Flo Ziegfeld's wife dabbled in tobacco as a side line! Both those restaurants look inviting. One has a scale out front to weigh yourself. I wonder what the man upstairs from Anna's cigar store is thinking of as he peruses his lovely selection of fireplace sets.

And a watering can next to the fire hydrant!

In all its original splendor!

The New Amsterdam has been at its location on West 42nd Street (right off Times Square) ever since its construction in 1903. It's the oldest surviving Broadway theater. The Ziegfeld Follies ran there continuously from 1913 to 1927. In the 1940s, it was converted into a movie house, and the ornate Beaux-Arts trimmings had been stripped off the front. Anyone know where they might have ended up?

By the time I first saw it, in 1972, it was one of many porn theaters that made the area around Port Authority so piquant. By the 1980s, it was so dilapidated it had been abandoned. It took the massive planet of the Disney Corporation - that celestial body that draws all culture into its orbit - to resurrect it.

Now the building houses the Broadway version of "Mary Poppins." Will it make it to 2103?

Sol Bloom

The name Sol Bloom in the windows seemed familiar. He made the Midway the big success it was during the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. He was featured in "The Devil and the White City."

Hats and Svengalis in the altogether

George du Maurier's 1894 gothic novel "Trilby" was a sensation. Besides the Trilby hat, it gave us the villainous name Svengali and the phrase "in the altogether." It is said to have inspired "Phantom of the Opera." The play was equally successful, productions appearing into the 1920s, and there was a musical, "Svengali," in the 1990s.

George's granddaughter, Daphne du Maurier, wrote "The Birds," source of the Hitchcock movie.

Come And Meet Those Dancing Feet

I remember this theatre very well. In the 1950s it was a shabby, 3rd run venue. It got a lot worse before it got better. That particular block (between 7th & 8th avenues) was home to every imaginable crime. Today it's Disneyland Times Square. The theatre itself is home to the musical "Mary Poppins," that side of the street also has a Dave & Busters, a Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a Madame Tussaud Wax Museum and many others. The block itself, is anchored, on the 8th Avenue end, by the recently built New York Times Building an architectural horror that fits in perfectly.

I take that back

Looks like some portion (half?) of the house of worship is poking out from behind McDonald's.

And Now

The beaux-arts gingerbread was stripped off ages ago. More pics here.

Must be some show

I am amazed that they would put a painted sign plus the lite sign for a show that is only running 2 weeks. I wonder what was painted over the sign next.

Love the swanky cigar shop where Anna will hold your cigar for you.

Strip show

This theater still stands (it's showing Mary Poppins), but is completely stripped of that fantastic ornament.

Weight for a Table

My favorite part of this picture is the scale outside the restaurant. I wonder if was intended for people to weigh themselves before or after the meal.

When they switched to movies

Did they host the premiere of "The Thin Man"?

Strait is the gate

The church holds herself rather stiffly apart from the rest of the jollity on the street.

Corsets

Ooooh, a view of a corsetiere! The historical costumer inside me is very happy to see it.

Corsets in plain view -- clearly people weren't as timid about such things as many would like to think. Sort of like walking past Victoria's Secret nowadays.

 
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