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These 42nd Street Theaters Could Be Landmarked With Your Help

By Gwynne Hogan | September 16, 2015 1:12pm
 These seven theaters could earn landmark status. 
Seven 42nd Street Theaters
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THEATER DISTRICT — The drama is building for seven historic 42nd Street theaters that have been waiting for landmark status since the 1980s.

The theaters are just a few of the 95 properties that the commission is trying to fast track through the process, though final decisions will still not come out until December 2016.

A public comment period is now open and a hearing will be held on Nov. 5 to review testimony.  

The public can submit testimony about any one of the seven theaters or any of the dozens of properties up for landmarking by email (backlog95@lpc.nyc.gov) before Oct. 29.

The historic theaters up for protected status are on either side of 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, some with ornate facades, others with striking interiors. 

The Lyric Theater, 213 W. 42nd St. 

The Lyric was designed by Hugo Koehler and built by the Shubert Organization between 1902 and 1904. It's ornate exterior has been preserved though much of its original interior is no longer intact.

The Lyric has gone by many names in its 100-year history and was formerly called Foxwoods Theater home of the flopped Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark musical.

In the 1990's previous owners combined The Lyric with the the New Apollo Theater next door, that is also up for landmarking.

The current owners, the Ambassador Theater Group, based in England, took over operations at the Lyric in 2014, according to the theater's website

The Empire Theater, 236-242 W. 42nd St.

The Empire Theater, built in 1912, now houses AMC Theaters and might have a bed bugs problem. It was designed by the Thomas W. Lamb, a prolific architect who worked on at least 48 theaters in New York City, like the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights.

AMC began operating the historic drama house in the mid-nineties, according to reports

The Liberty Theater, 234 W. 42nd St.

The theaters interior was built between 1902 and 1905 by the architects Herts and Tallant who also designed the nearby New Amsterdam Theater. Though its facade is currently covered in neon signs and advertisements, its interior still recalls its former splendor.

The New Victory, 207 W. 42nd St.

The New Victory was designed by J.B. McElfatrick in 1899 for Oscar Hammerstein and was run as a theater until 1931 where it converted into a burlesque venue. It's the oldest surviving theater on 42nd Street with one of the best preserved interiors.

In 1995, the theater underwent $11.4 million in renovations to restore it from a beat-up peep show venue to its former splendor, according to the theater's website

The New 42nd Street, a non-profit, helped back that project and has pushed to revitalize other theaters on the block. They now oversees the The New Victory's management, as well as three other theaters on the block.

The Times Square Theater, 215-223 W. 42nd St.

This is the only theater that has not been renovated on the block. There were reports in 2012 that the New 42nd Street, had found it a tenant to renovate and manage it, and get it ready for "Broadway 4D" a movie/musical combo that a press release from the time described as "a 3-D film-enhanced show incorporating in-theater special effects,” according to reports.

That plan never came to fruition.

This summer, however, Broadway World and Playbill reported that the plan could be back on track and had secured new producers.

The theater is sandwiched between the Lyric and the New Apollo Theater on the north side of 42nd Street, that are conjoined behind it. Architects De Rosa & Pereira designed the theater that has six massive columns along the neo-classical facade.

The Selwyn Theater Interior, 229-231 W. 42nd St.

This theater is now home to the American Airlines Theater and the 50-year old company Roundabout Theater Company that puts on several productions a year. 

The theater was designed by George Keister and built by the Selwyn family between 1917 and 1919. 

Take a virtual tour of the interior here.