Manhattan loses Times Square icon

posted by Michael Zoldessy on September 12, 2007 at 8:00 am

NEW YORK, NY — The Playpen may have had more theater incarnations than any cinema in town, but apparently that’s not enough to keep it going. The changing trends of Times Square will almost certainly soon demolish the building.

The homogenization of the Times Square area (yes, The Times has contributed to the phenomenon with its new headquarters opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal) has claimed another quirky victim: the Playpen, a former cinema that closed recently after 90-odd years.

Very odd years.

What Eighth Avenue will lose with its disappearance is more than an adults-only emporium with suggestive neon come-ons — “Live Girls,” “Preview Booths,” “Leather & Lace.” It will lose the last home of the Funny Store, an almost vaudevillian novelty shop. It will lose one of the most distinctive facades of any surviving theater from the early 20th century, a kind of heroic Palladian composition. And will lose a three-dimensional history lesson in the evolution of Times Square.

The rest along with the history of the structure over its changing years is in the New York Times.

Theaters in this post

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