Times Square Theater

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Times Square Theater
Theater building facade with colonnade spanning second and third stories and marquee and entrance on the left for two theaters.
Times Square Theater, with entrance to Apollo Theater (left), 1922
Address 217 West 42nd Street
New York City
United States
Coordinates 40°45′24″N 73°59′16″W / 40.756569°N 73.987783°W / 40.756569; -73.987783Coordinates: 40°45′24″N 73°59′16″W / 40.756569°N 73.987783°W / 40.756569; -73.987783
Owner City and State of New York
Type Broadway
Capacity 1,032
Opened September 30, 1920
Years active 1920–1934
Architect Eugene De Rosa
New 42nd Street

The Times Square Theater is a former Broadway theater, located at 217 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, in New York City.


The Times Square Theater was built in 1920 by the Selwyn brothers from a design by Eugene De Rosa.[1][2] It was one of three theaters they built and controlled on 42nd Street, including the Apollo and the Selwyn. It opened on September 30, 1920, with Florence Reed starring in The Mirage.[3][4][5][6]

G.K. Chesterton spoke on the topic "Shall We Abolish the Inevitable?" at the theater in 1921.[7]

Battling Butler, the basis for the Buster Keaton film of the same name, transferred from the Selwyn to the Times Square in 1924. Notable shows presented at the Times Square included the original New York productions of The Front Page by Hecht and MacArthur in 1928, George and Ira Gershwin's Strike Up the Band in 1930 and Noël Coward's Private Lives starring Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in 1931.[8]

Only three years after Private Lives, the Times Square was converted to a cinema. It would remain in operation as a movie theater until the early 1990s, when it was closed. The final scene of the 1980 motion picture Times Square was filmed at the Times Square Theater, with Robin Johnson's character performing a "midnight concert" atop the theater's marquee.

The City and State of New York took possession of the Times Square Theater in 1990. In 1992, it was one of six 42nd Street theaters to come under the protection of the New 42nd Street organization. It was not immediately restored or renovated, as the theater lacks any entrances not directly on 42nd Street, rendering it more difficult to use for loading of scenery and props.[9]

Development proposals[edit]

Since 1992, the theater has been the focus of a number of development proposals that were later abandoned. Canadian production company Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada briefly considered a redevelopment project in 1998.[10][11] MTV and Marvel Mania also considered redeveloping the property.[12][13]

In 2005, the Times Square Theater was leased to Eckō Unltd., which planned to make it a store for clothing and other urban youth market items.[14] In 2009, the company walked away from its lease.[15]

In 2012, a long term lease was signed to make the theater home to a "4D" film presentation called Broadway Sensation, dedicated to the history of Broadway. The presentation was to be produced by lawyer Robert Kory and producer/director Gary Goddard and the theater renovated to house it. The attraction was expected to open in spring 2015,[16] however on May 28, 2014 it was reported that the project had been canceled due to financial troubles.[17]

In March 2015, the New York Post reported that the British-based Ambassador Theatre Group, which controls the adjacent Lyric Theatre, was in negotiations to take over management of the building, converting it back into a Broadway theater after completing renovations.[18] Later, in 2016, the Post reported speculation that Oracle Projects International of Singapore was interested in the theater as a space for special events.[19] As of 2016 the theater remains vacant.


  1. ^ Building Age and National Builder Vol. 47, Nos. 7—12 (1925), p. 82.
  2. ^ "Times Square and Apollo Theatres". Architecture and Building Vol. 52, No. 12 (December 1920), pp. 104-5. Online at Google Books.
  3. ^ Woollcott, Alexander (October 1, 1920). "The Play". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "The Week's New Plays". The New York Times (September 26, 1920) (photo of Florence Reed).
  5. ^ Ken Bloom (2004). Broadway: Its History, People, and Places: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ James Trager (2010). The New York Chronology: The Ultimate Compendium of Events, People, and Anecdotes from the Dutch to the Present. HarperCollins. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Shows Fallacy of Fatalism". Los Angeles Times. January 24, 1921. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ Robert P. McNamara. Sex, Scams, and Street Life: The Sociology of New York City's Times Square. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ Interview with New 42nd Street president Cora Cahan on Times Square Theater
  10. ^ Andy Newman (November 5, 1998). "Livent Drops Times Square Theater Plans". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ David M. Halbfinger (June 26, 1997). "Concerts Considered for Times Sq. Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Charles V. Bagli (February 8, 1999). "As Rents Soar, Boom Is Slowed in Times Square". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ Edward, Daniel (June 19, 2012). "All the Twists and Turns Behind Times Square Theater, Last Week's Most Creative Deal of the Year Winner". The Commercial Observer. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn (January 23, 2005). "Square Feet/Times Square – A Crossroads for Restaurants". Times Square and 42nd Street (NYC); New York City: The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  15. ^ Cuozzo, Steve (February 17, 2009). "This 'Ecko' Sounds Like A Lawsuit". New York Post. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  16. ^ Kenneth Jones (March 21, 2012). "Broadway's Times Square Theater Will Be Renovated for Broadway Sensation Film Show". playbill.com. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  17. ^ Ryan McPhee (May 28, 2014). "Broadway 4D Cancels Planned Times Square Attraction Featuring Filmed Broadway Performances". broadway.com. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ Riedel, Michael (March 11, 2015). "Broadway's newest landlord is a colorful, 'Mormon'-loving Brit". New York Post. 
  19. ^ Cuozzo, Steve (March 2, 2016). "New deal to revive long-vacant Times Square Theater". New York Post. 
  • Broadway Theatres: History and Architecture, William Morrison, 1999, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-40244-4
  • Lost Broadway Theatres, Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, Princeton Architectural Press, 1997, ISBN 1-56898-116-3

External links[edit]