between West 175th and West 176th Streets
Washington Heights, Manhattan
|City||New York City|
|Architect||Thomas W. Lamb|
|Owned by||United Christian Evangelistic Association|
|Capacity||3,661 (1930); 3,293 (2007) (|
|Other names||Loew's 175th Street Theatre|
|Current use||church; live music venue|
The United Palace is a former theatre now used as a church and live music venue, located at 4140 Broadway between West 175th and 176th Streets in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. New York City. It was built and opened in 1930 as the Loew's 175th Street Theatre, a movie palace, and was designed by Thomas W. Lamb in an eclectic mix of styles. It originally presented films and vaudeville, but its last commercial film presentation was in 1968-69, and the theatre was bought for over half a million dollars in 1969 by the evangelist Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, better known as Reverend Ike, to be the headquarters for his United Church Science of Living Institute. The historic theatre, renamed the Palace Cathedral and colloquially called "Reverend Ike's Prayer Tower", was restored by the church.
History and description
The Loews 175th Street Theatre was built as one of the Loew's Wonder Theatres, their extravagant and spacious flagships in the New York City area, which included Loew's Jersey Theatre in Jersey City (opened 1929, now a classic cinema and performing arts center); the Loew's Kings Theatre in Brooklyn (1929, under restoration as a performing arts center); the Loew's Paradise Theatre, The Bronx (1929, now a church); and Loew's Valencia Theatre in Queens (1929, now a church)
All five theatres featured functionally identical 7-foot tall, twin-chambered "Wonder Morton" electro-pneumatic pipe organs manufactured by the Robert Morton Organ Company of Van Nuys, California, which had four manuals and 23 ranks. The organ in the United Palace was restored c.1970 after almost 25 years of disuse, and was utilized by the church in its services, but is no longer functioning due to water damage.
The 175th Street Theatre seated 3,661 people, and began life with a showing of a film starring Norma Shearer, and a musical comedy stage show starring vaudevillians Shaw and Lee (Al Shaw and Sam Lee). It closed 39 years later in March 1939 with a showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey, although as of 2001, the projection booth still had three six-foot tall Simplex projectors with Peerless arclight housings.
The architectural style of the terra-cotta-faced theatre has been described as "Byzantine-Romanesque-Indo-Hindu-Sino-Moorish-Persian-Eclectic-Rococo-Deco" by David W. Dunlap of the New York Times, who wrote later that Lamb borrowed from:
the Alhambra in Spain, the Kailasa rock-cut shrine in India, and the Wat Phra Keo temple in Thailand, adding Buddhas, bodhisattvas, elephants, and honeycomb stonework in an Islamic pattern known as muqarnas.
The AIA Guide to New York City calls it "Cambodian neo-Classical" and invites a comparison to Lamb's Loew's Pitkin Theatre in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Lamb wrote that "Exotic ornaments, colors and scenes are particularly effective in creating an atmosphere in which the mind is free to frolic and becomes receptive to entertainment." The interior features a "palatial" staircase. A cupola on the building's northeast corner, at Wadsworth Avenue and West 176th Street, is topped by a "Miracle Star of Faith," visible from the George Washington Bridge.
While the United Christian Evangelistic Association continues to own the theater, the recently inaugurated rock concerts presented there have been produced by Andy Feltz, formerly of the Beacon Theatre. Musical performers since 2007 include Vampire Weekend, Eddie Vedder, Neil Young, Sonic Youth, Bloc Party, Bob Dylan, Adele, The Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, Sigur Rós, Jackson Browne, Alex Campos, Björk, Allman Brothers Band, Iggy and the Stooges, Modest Mouse, The Black Crowes, Arcade Fire and Kraftwerk.
In 2007, Sir Simon Rattle appeared at the theatre conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring danced by public school students and choreographed by Royston Maldoom. The following year, a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Mass was given as part of the celebration of the 90th anniversary of that composer's birth. In addition, recitals, classes and lectures have also been presented at the theatre, and the TV show Smash has used the theatre to film its fictional Broadway production Bombshell.
In 2013 limited film screenings returned to the Palace.
- "4140 Broadway, Manhattan" New York City Geographic Information Services map. Accessed: June 1, 2014
- "United Church: 'The Palace Cathedral'" in New York City Organ Project New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
- Dwyer, Jim (May 2, 2007), "With Indie Rock on 175th St., City’s Reinvention Rolls Uptown", New York Times
- .Dunlap, David W. (April 13, 2001), "Xanadus Rise to a Higher Calling", New York Times
- Atamian, Christopher (November 11, 2007), ""Rite of Spring" as Rite of Passage", New York Times
- Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion. (2004) New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12543-7, p.286
- Lehman-Haupt, Christopher. (July 30, 2009) "Reverend Ike, Who Preached Riches, Dies at 74" New York Times
- Alberts, Hana R. (28 May 2014). "See the Amazing Restoration of Flatbush's 1920s Movie Palace". Curbed NYC (Vox Media Inc.). Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Krefft, Jason R. Bryan; and Roe, Ken. "Loew's Valencia Theatre". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot with Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195383867., p.568
- Tommasini, Anthony (October 26, 2008), "Bernstein Mass Project, Youthful Choristers Imparting New Life", New York Times
- Kemp, Kris. "How to Get More Work as a Background Actor (Extra) in New York City"
- "Success! $49K Raised to return film to the Palace". United Palace. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
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