Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New York City and the Hippodrome 1905-1939 The largest theater ever in New York..

The Hippodrome which was once located on 6th Avenue and between 43rd and 44th Street in New York City

An original cover from a program at the Hippodrome in 1906

Here is the inside of the program...I bet the fountains that they speak of here were amazing...

Some remarks about the Hippodrome as it was in 1906

I have been thinking of old New York as it was a century ago...I was just reading a book lent to me by a dear friend called "Turn west on 23rd" by Robert Baral. The book brought to my mind many things I remembered of New York and also reminded me of an old scrap book I had bought in Florida in 1990...It was filled with programs and items from a rather well to do family from Chicago..Who often came to New York and saw the sites... It is a treasure trove of New York Theatrical history...This family spend a few weeks in New York in 1906. It was quite a year..Stanford White had been shot in his own building Madison Square Garden by Harry K. Thaw...All over the charms of a devilish woman called Evelyn Nesbit...But that is another story in which I will get into another time.

This family went to see the Hippodrome in its first full year of operation. It had opened in 1905 and to rave reviews. But it was just too big! It was amazing with hidden 8000 gallon water tanks that could be raised to the stage...Elephants were all over..It was truly an event!

There were the courts of the Golden Fountains...Houdini often did his shows there.....Everyone who was anyone was there...But the problem remained...it was too big and costly to run.

By 1923 it was pretty much over. The motion picture had won the hearts of the public and the age of the great show was over..It was a Sports arena for a while...But New York is a constantly evolving city...and it was torn down in 1939...Because of the economics of the time the space where the great theater once stood remained an empty lot till well into the 1950's...It was a sad end for such a noble venture.

A little historical info

The Hippodrome Theatre stood in New York City from 1905 to 1939. It was called the world's largest theatre by its builders.

The Hippodrome was built by Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy, creators of the Luna Park amusement park at Coney Island. The theatre was located on Sixth Avenue between Forty-third and Forty-fourth streets. Its auditorium seated 5,300 people and it was equipped with what was then the state of the art in theatrical technology. The theatre was acquired by The Shubert Organization in 1909.

The Hippodrome's huge running costs made it a perennial financial failure, and a series of producers tried and failed to make money from the theatre. It became a location for vaudeville productions in 1923 before being leased for budget opera performances, finally becoming a sports arena. The building was torn down in 1939, though an office building that today stands on the same site claims the name "Hippodrome."


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the interesting article. Elmer Dundy was a distant relative of mine, and I have done research on him. He and his family were interesting people.

daniel john said...

Great info, i glad to see this blog, such an informative article, Thanks for share this.
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tony said...

Great article, found out recently my great aunt Queenie and her husband Thomas Clarke Pendrigh performed some kind of act there c1915, have yet to find out what it was! Tony, Blackpool, England.

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