Saturday, January 17, 2009

Empire Theater 42nd Street Then & Now

Built in 1912 as the Eltinge Theater (named for famed female impersonator Julian Eltinge), this imposing Romanesque (Rococo? Italianate?)  structure eventually became The Empire Theater, sometime during 42nd Street's journey from legitimate theater destination to burlesque to movies.  This shot was taken in 1992, the day the plans for "42nd Street Now!" were announced, signalling the street's (the "Deuce)" transformation from  seedy glory to Disney nightmare.  Currently an AMC theater, which you can't miss. A beautiful restoration, nonetheless.   


Virginia said...

Reno yes, but I hatea that garish neon sign. Well it's still there anyway. We had an Empire Theatre here too. Not as glam as the Alabama that I have featured recently but I saw some fine Doris Day movies there in my day. Nice that this time you had a pleasing AFTER to your BEFORE, KM.

Dave said...

I prefered the old theatre. Yes, I think the red sign spoils it. - Dave

Anonymous said...

Not all change improves things. Great to see these before and afters.

Anonymous said...

I could not believe the difference between Midtown 1988 and now.

bARE-eYED sUN said...

i'm glad that the owners were able to preserve the facade, for the most part.

i'm even happier that the windows were opened up, and the rooftop balcony was a nice addition as well.

i do miss the two movies for two bucks, though. times were tough, but New York allowed for the working class.

that was then.

sonia a. mascaro said...

I also prefered the old theater! Great photos!

Anonymous said...

here's a positive: Look at how many people ride bikes (or are expected to ride bikes).

PJ said...

It looks like you're taking a trip down memory lane, KM. It's really interesting to see all the changes.

Virginia said...

Well I have a great idea. When the Cheyenne gets ready to open, YOU come on down.. Maybe a little B"ham media coverage? HUH? How much would that be KM????

-K- said...

Wait a minute - it was named for a female impersonator? In 1912???

hoover factory said...

The Empire's shell was actually moved down 42nd Street from its original location to its present spot, where it was cleaned up and became the entrance lobby for the AMC multiplex.

Ken Mac said...

i believe they moved other theatres as well on 42nd. Soon I will be posting a before and after of the Lyric. And they look nothing alike...even beyond restoration.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful restoration... I even like the neon sign. Better than tearing it down.

The Blue Ridge Gal

marley said...

Its a nice looking building, though I don't rate the neon sign much (and I'm a neon lover!) At least it's still used as it was intened.

Rob said...

Always good to renovate and reuse these old buildings. Except for the garish part. On the bright side it wasn't torn down.

humanobserver said...

Drastic change...

Saretta said...

I think the style is Art Nouveau. Very nice in any case, with any name!

Anonymous said...

Love your site -- the gritty before pics and the now pics. Great overall look.

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