Theater District, Manhattan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Theatre District, New York)
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Los Angeles historic district, see Broadway Theater District (Los Angeles).
Theater District
Neighborhood in Manhattan
The Golden Theatre, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre and Booth Theatre on West 45th Street in Manhattan's Theater District
Coordinates: 40°45′28″N 73°59′9″W / 40.75778°N 73.98583°W / 40.75778; -73.98583Coordinates: 40°45′28″N 73°59′9″W / 40.75778°N 73.98583°W / 40.75778; -73.98583
Country United States
State New York
City New York City
Borough Manhattan
Zip code 10018, 10019, 10036[1]
Area code 212, 646, 917

New York City's Theater District (sometimes spelled Theatre District, and officially zoned as the "Theater Subdistrict"[2]) is an area in Midtown Manhattan where most Broadway theaters are located, as well as many other theaters, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, and other places of entertainment. It extends from West 40th Street to West 54th Street, and from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue, and includes Times Square. The Great White Way is the name given to the section of Broadway which runs through the Theater District.

It also contains recording studios, record label offices, theatrical agencies, Music Row, ABC Television Studios, Duffy Square, Shubert Alley, the Brill Building, and Madame Tussauds of New York.[3][4][5]


Origins and early history[edit]

The Theater District first began attracting theaters and restaurants to the neighborhood after the Metropolitan Opera House moved to West 39th Street and Broadway in 1883.[6]

Over the years since then, the district has been referred to by New Yorkers as "the Rialto", as "The Main Stem", and as "Broadway", and at the turn of the 20th century, was simply called "The Street".[7][8]

By the 1970s, the 42nd Street area in the district had become quite run-down and seedy—with the opening of a number of X-rated movie houses, peep shows, and so-called grind houses operating there—and was even considered a rather dangerous place to venture into by most New Yorkers. The entire area was later greatly revitalized by the City in the 1990s, however, with the closing of most of those businesses, and with an array of new businesses being attracted in.[4]

Joe Papp's "Save the Theatres" campaign[edit]

In the Spring of 1982, Joseph Papp, the Broadway theatrical producer and director who had established The Public Theater, led a campaign called "Save the Theatres" in Manhattan.[9] The primary initial goal of the "Save the Theatres" effort, which was sponsored by Papp's not-for-profit group and supported by the Actors Equity union, was to save several theater buildings in the Theatre District neighborhood from their impending demolition by monied Manhattan development interests.[10][11][12][13] Papp provided financial resources, campaign buttons, posters, and newspaper ads for the effort; recruited a publicist and celebrated actors to promote the cause; and provided various stage and street venues, audio, lighting, and technical crews for public events in support of the campaign for saving the historic theatres.[11]

At Papp's behest, in July 1982, U.S. Congressman Donald J. Mitchell of New York, and 13 co-sponsors, introduced a bill in the 97th Congress (1981–82), entitled "H.R.6885, A bill to designate the Broadway/Times Square Theatre District in the City of New York as a national historic site".[14] If enacted, it would have required the Federal Government to aid financially and otherwise in preserving the district and its historic theatre houses as an official National Historic Site.[14] Faced with strong opposition and lobbying by the Mayor Ed Koch's Administration, however, the bill was never enacted, although it did help to publicize and call wide-spread attention to the effort.[15]

The Save the Theatres campaign then turned their efforts toward supporting the establishment of the Theater District as a registered New York City historic district.[16][17] In December 1983, Save the Theatres prepared "The Broadway Theater District, a Preservation Development and Management Plan", and demanded that each theater in the district receive landmark designation.[17] Mayor Koch ultimately responded by creating a Theater Advisory Council, that included Papp as a member,[11] and which eventually led to the area being officially zoned as the "Theater Subdistrict"[2]

Theater Subdistrict zoning[edit]

In January 2001, the New York Appellate Division, First Department, upheld the validity of the 1998 Theater Subdistrict zoning regulations, which permit the sale of air rights from the Broadway theaters to sites in the Theater Subdistrict, "between 40th and 57th Streets and Sixth and Eighth Avenues".[18] The New York City Department of City Planning press release stated: "The concentration of over 40 Broadway theaters makes the Theater District one of the most well-known areas in the world."[18]

New York City also created the "Theater Subdistrict Council", LDC (“TSC”), a not-for-profit corporation, pursuant to the 1998 zoning regulation.[19] Funds are deposited into the Theater Subdistrict Fund.[19] The TSC administers the fund and allocates grants to promote new theater work and showcase Broadway's role in American theater.[19]

The New York City Zoning Resolution for special purpose districts, as amended on April 30, 2012, contains special regulations for the Theater Subdistrict, including the transfer of development rights, incentives for the rehabilitation of existing theaters, the creation of a theater council to promote theaters, and zoning and signage for theaters, and contains a list of theaters that qualify for special provisions in the regulations.[20]


The City of New York defines the subdistrict for zoning purposes to extend from 40th Street to 57th Street and from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue, with an additional area west of Eighth Avenue from 42nd Street to 45th Street.[21] The Times Square Alliance, a Business Improvement District organization dedicated to improving the Theater District, defines the district as an irregularly shaped area within the bounding box of 40th Street, 6th Ave, 53rd Street, and 9th Ave.[22]

Other nearby theater areas[edit]

The area known as Theatre Row is an area on 42nd Street from Ninth Avenue to Eleventh Avenue, which includes many Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theaters.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "New York Zip Code Boundary Map (NY)". Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "New York City Department of City Planning". Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ Editors of Time Out (2011). Time Out New York. Time Out Guides. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Eleanor Berman (2013). Top 10 New York City. Penguin. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ Sascha Zuger (2011). Moon New York State. Avalon Travel. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ AnneLise Sorensen, Eleanor Berman (2012). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: New York City. Penguin. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ Irving L. Allen (1995). City In Slang: New York Life and Popular Speech. Oxford University Press. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  8. ^ William R. Taylor (April 22, 1996). Inventing Times Square: Commerce and Culture at the Crossroads of the World. JHU Press. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ The name of the organization was "Save the Theatres, Inc., as noted in court papers. See Shubert Organization, Inc. v. Landmarks Preservation Commission of the City of New York and Save the Theatres, Inc., Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department, May 16, 1991, accessed March 10, 2013
  10. ^ "Proposal to Save Morosco and Helen Hayes Theaters", LHP Architects, accessed March 10, 2013
  11. ^ a b c Helen Epstein. Joe Papp: An American Life. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  12. ^ "City Panel Near Vote On Save-The-Theaters Proposals". New York City: April 15, 1984. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ Corwin, Betty "Theatre on film and tape archive", International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts, accessed May 10, 2013
  14. ^ a b "Bill Summary & Status – 97th Congress (1981–1982) – H.R.6885". Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ John Gingles, "My Evening with Joe Papp", from Accidents of Luck: A Personal Memoir, Washington, D.C., 2007.
  16. ^ Lynne B. Sagalyn (2003). Times Square Roulette: Remaking the City Icon. MIT Press. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Peter Bosselmann (August 28, 1985). Representation of Places – Imprimé: Reality and Realism in City Design. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Theater District Zoning Regulations Providing for As-Of-Right Transfer of Theater Air Rights are Upheld by Appellate Division – New York City Department of City Planning" (Press release). January 26, 2001. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c "Theater Subdistrict Council – New York City Department of City Planning". Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ "The City of New York Zoning Resolution; Article VIII; Chapter 1;" (PDF). Mayor Bloomberg; New York City Planning Commission; Department of City Planning. May 25, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Special Purpose Districts: Manhattan: Special Midtown Districts" on the official NYC website. Accessed: February 21, 2013
  22. ^ Times Square: Times Square/Theater District Dining

Further reading

  • Bianco, Anthony (2004). Ghosts of 42nd Street: A History of America's Most Infamous Block. New York: HarperCollins Books, ISBN 0-688-17089-7. A detailed history that focuses primarily of the Times Square Theater District from the beginning of the 20th century through its successful revival/restoration in the late 20th century.

External links[edit]