Gaiety Theatre (New York City)

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For the unrelated gay male burlesque that was established in 1976 across the street see Gaiety Theatre, New York (male burlesque)
Gaiety Theatre
Victoria Theatre, Embassy 5
Address 1547 Broadway
New York City
United States
Type Broadway
Opened 1909
Demolished 1982

The Gaiety Theatre was a Broadway theatre at 1547 Broadway in New York City from 1909 until 1982, when it was torn down.

The office building that housed the theatre The Gaiety Building has been called the Black Tin Pan Alley for the number of African-American songwriters, who rented office space there.

It was designed by Herts & Tallant and owned by George M. Cohan. The theatre introduced revolutionary concepts of a sunken orchestra (the previous configuration had the orchestra on the same level as the seats in front of the stage) and also not having pillars obstructing sight lines for the balcony.[1]

It opened on September 4, 1909 with the Fortune Hunter.

The theatre's biggest hit was Lightnin' which played for 1,291 performances starting August 16, 1918. It would become a silent film.


In 1932 it became a Minsky's Burlesque which had performances by Ann Corio, Abbott and Costello and Gypsy Rose Lee. In 1943, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia cracked down on burlesque, and it became the Victoria, which initially featured vaudeville performances including Stepin Fetchit.[1]


It was transformed into a movie theatre in September 1943. In 1944 United Artists leased the theatre for movies and in 1949 Edward Durrell Stone designed a remake of the interior which was expanded to 1,050 seats.

A sign on the roof of the theatre went across the neighboring Astor Theatre and was said to be the largest in the world. While originally advertising movies, it would later be best remembered as an advertisement for Budweiser.[1]

Embassy 5[edit]

In 1980 it was renamed the Embassy 5.

In 1982 it was torn down to make way for the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.

Black Tin Pan Alley[edit]

The office building above the Gaiety was popular among black composers who were not allowed in the Brill Building. Among them were Harry Pace, W.C. Handy, Clarence Williams (musician), Perry Bradford, Bert Williams, and Will Vodery. Andy Razaf would pick up his mail there.[1]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′31″N 73°59′07″W / 40.758544°N 73.985406°W / 40.758544; -73.985406