Knickerbocker Theatre

1396 Broadway,
New York, NY 10018

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Additional Info

Architects: John Bailey McElfatrick

Firms: J. B. McElfatrick and Sons

Styles: Italian Renaissance

Previous Names: Abbey's Theatre, Henry Abbey's Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Subway construction at KNICKERBOCKER Theatre, New York, New York.

Located at the north-east corner of Broadway and W. 38th Street within a six-story office building. Opened as Abbey’s Theatre on November 8, 1893 with a production on Lord Tennyson’s “Becket” starring famed British actor Sir Henry Irving and actress Ellen Terry. Seating was provided in orchestra, dress circle and balcony levels, with seven boxes on each side of the proscenium. It was taken over by Henry Hayman in 1896 and renamed Knickerbocker Theatre. It was demolished in 1930 when the property became valuable to the growing Garment District.

The theatre is credited with installing Broadway’s first animated electric sign in 1906 when a huge windmill sign was erected outside the theatre advertising the musical production of “The Red Mill”. It is better-remembered for its live productions, with stars such as Sarah Bernhardt, Maude Adams, Eddie Foy, Clifton Webb, and George Arliss appeared as “Disraeli”, but film became a staple after World War I.

Contributed by Lou Rugani

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

CSWalczak on October 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm

There is much additional history of the Knickerbocker here with pictures inside and out. Films were most likely shown there, but it looks to have been very much primarily a playhouse even in the post-WW I years. The last entry showing a play there in 1946 is an obvious error as the theater was demolished well before that year.

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