Olympia Theatre (New York City)

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Olympia Theatre
Hammerstein's Olympia, New York Theatre, Loew's New York, Criterion Theatre, Criterion Center Stage Right
Hammerstein's Olympia, Broadway and 44th Street, Manhattan.jpg
Hammerstein's Olympia
Address 1514-16 Broadway
New York City
United States
Type Broadway
Current use restaurant
Construction
Opened 1895
Rebuilt 1935
Years active 1890–1935; 1989–1999
Architect J. B. McElfatrick & Son

The Olympia Theatre (1514-16 Broadway at 44th Street), also known as Hammerstein's Olympia, was a theatre complex built by impresario Oscar Hammerstein I in Longacre Square (later Times Square), New York City, opening in 1895. It consisted of a theatre, a music hall, a concert hall, and a roof garden. It was later named the New York Theatre and Loew's New York.

History[edit]

According to The New York Times, Olympia was a "massive gray stone building", and extended 203 feet (62 m) on Longacre Square, 104 feet (32 m) on 45th Street, and 101 feet (31 m) on 44th Street. It was made from Indiana limestone, featured an imposing façade, and followed French Renaissance designs. It was designed by J. B. McElfatrick & Son.[1][2]

The building was opened on November 25, 1895 with over 30 performers from Europe appearing.[3] It was the second theater to open in what is now known as the Theater District. The first was the Empire Theatre, on the Southeast corner of 40th Street and Broadway. The Olympia was later named the New York Theatre and Loew's New York.

In 1935, architects Thomas W. Lamb and Eugene DeRosa redesigned the site. Historic sources are unclear as to whether some or all buildings in the complex were demolished and rebuilt, or the shells gutted and remodeled to build a nightclub/dancehall, the International Casino, and the Criterion movie theatre.[1]

In 1988, the Criterion Center Stage Right was built on the site of the original Olympia Theatre,[4] and from 1991-1999, the space was leased to Roundabout Theatre Company, a prominent non-profit theatre company. Notable productions during Roundabout's tenure at the Criterion include the 1993 revival of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie (featuring Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson in their Broadway debuts),[5] and the 1995 revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company.[6]

Current site use[edit]

In 2000, Toys R Us announced plans to spend approximately $35 million on a flagship store on the site of the old Olympia. [7] The new store was devised as a bid to "re-establish [Toys R Us] as the top retailer in its field", and would feature a 60-foot in-store Ferris Wheel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Morrison, William (1999). Broadway Theatres: History and Architecture (trade paperback). Dover Books on Architecture. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. pp. 24–26. ISBN 0-486-40244-4. 
  2. ^ "Olympia Ready to Open". The New York Times. November 24, 1895.
  3. ^ "Police Call in Olympia". The New York Times. November 26, 1895.
  4. ^ http://www.ibdb.com/venue.php?id=1129
  5. ^ http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=4702
  6. ^ http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=4305
  7. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/02/nyregion/toys-r-us-to-build-the-biggest-store-in-times-sq.html "

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′27″N 73°59′09″W / 40.75738°N 73.98570°W / 40.75738; -73.98570