Broadway Theatre (41st Street)

Coordinates: 40°45′18.5″N 73°59′13.5″W / 40.755139°N 73.987083°W / 40.755139; -73.987083
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Broadway Theatre
The Broadway Theatre on the left in 1912, playing Hanky Panky
Address1445 Broadway
New York City
United States
Coordinates40°45′18.5″N 73°59′13.5″W / 40.755139°N 73.987083°W / 40.755139; -73.987083
OpenedMarch 3, 1888
ClosedJanuary 1929
ArchitectJ.B. McElfatrick & Co.
Elsie Leslie in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1888)
Advertisement for an adaptation of Mr. Barnes of New York, 1888

The Broadway Theatre near 41st Street was a Manhattan theatre in operation from 1888 to 1929.[1] It was located at 1445 Broadway.


James Anthony Bailey, a circus manager and owner (the "Bailey" in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) started building the theatre in 1887 on the site of what had been the "Metropolitan Concert Hall" built in 1880. Bailey pulled out, and the project was completed by Frank Sanger, T.H. French, and E. Zborowski, with seating for about 1,800 and standing room for 500 more.[1] The American premiere of La Tosca was performed on the theatre's opening night, March 3, 1888, featuring Fanny Davenport. It was not a great success, due in part to the Great Blizzard of 1888 hitting New York ten days later, and it closed on April 28.[2]

The first successful run was Little Lord Fauntleroy, with the title role alternately played by Elsie Leslie and Tommy Russell, which hit 100 showings on March 21, 1889.[1] Lawrence Barrett's final performance was at the theatre in March 1891, when he became ill during a performance of Richelieu. Edwin Booth's last New York performance occurred at the theatre that same month. El Capitan, John Philip Sousa's most enduring operetta, opened here in 1896 before tours, revivals and a successful London run.[3] The highly successful Ben-Hur debuted in November 1899, the greatest production which the theatre ever hosted.[1] Mrs. Leslie Carter, who later obtained fame with The Heart of Maryland, made her stage debut at the Broadway Theatre in 1890 in The Ugly Duckling.

Starting around 1903, the theatre featured almost all musical productions. In 1913, after the closing of The American Maid, the theatre was used for vaudeville and motion picture shows.


The last performance was a vaudeville show called Broadway Fever in January 1929, and the theatre was soon after demolished.[1][4][5] The site is now occupied by the 33-story Bricken-Textile Building, built in 1929.[6]

In 1930, the former Colony Theatre on 53rd Street was renamed the Broadway Theatre, which name it still retains.

Notable productions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e (6 January 1929). The Broadway Theatre Passes; Playhouse Built by James Bailey, Partner of P.T. Barnum, Over Forty Years Ago Witnessed the Last Engagements of Booth and Irving and the Premiere of Ben Hur, The New York Times
  2. ^ (28 April 1888). Advertisement, The Sun (New York) (advertisement for last show on April 28, 1888 - Bloom book incorrectly says March 28; The Queen's Mate set to start on May 2)
  3. ^ El Capitan, The Guide to Light Opera and Operetta, accessed December 4, 2015
  4. ^ (3 January 1929). Final Curtain Rung on Broadway Theatre; To Be Demolished for a Skyscraper, With Keith Vaudeville House, After 40 Years' Career, The New York Times
  5. ^ Bloom, Ken. Broadway: Its History, People, and Places : an Encyclopedia 2d ed., p. 84-85 (2004)
  6. ^ New York Then and Now, p. 19 (2012)
  7. ^ (6 October 1889). Francis Wilson, Manager; The Career of "The Oolah" and its Coming Tour in the Country, The New York Times
  8. ^ (4 November 1894). Notes of the Stage, The New York Times (article notes 75th performance would be on November 15, play closed on Saturday November 17)

External links[edit]