(click on thumbnails to enlarge)
Clurman Theatre / Kirk Theatre
Theatre Row started in the 1970s when this part of 42nd street was a low-rent neighborhood of prostitutes and peep shows. Playwrights Horizons was the first in 1975, followed by a several more theatres opened by the 42nd Street Development Corporation to renew this desolate block West of 9th avenue. The theatres are protected by a land-use covenant, but they were gutted and entirely rebuilt in a 2000 project that included new revenue-producing residential towers as well as the new Playwrights Horizons space and the steroidally commercial Little Schubert. The Acorn Theater (capacity: 199) is the largest of the "new" theatres. The Lion Theatre (capacity: 88) is the smallest, holding the four walls of the defunct Harold Clurman Theatre.
New 141 seat theatre built on the site of their former home.
499-seat Off-Broadway built by the Schuberts as part of a residential development after they replaced the old Playwrights Horizons facility and demolished the Intar Theatre (420 W 42nd). The seating capacity is specifically catered to keep the facility within the maximum size for an Off-Broadway house specified in union contracts, thus avoiding considerably higher Broadway-level salaries for performers and crew. In the 1970's the site was also apparently the home of the 42nd Street Cinema, a mercifully short-lived porn house.
Douglas Fairbanks Theatre (demolished)
Theatre Row once extended to the block between 9th and 10th Avenues. However, developer Stephen M. Ross came up with the idea of building an 1,800 seat venue for the fabulously profitable Cirque du Soleil in addition to a 60-story apartment building goldmine. In a tactic typically used to thwart preservationists, Ross rushed to level the old theatres as quickly as possible in 2004. But while the other former residents of "Theatre Row" were replaced with spaces that, arguably, represented a positive addition to the New York non-profit theare community, this represented a blatant land grab, made all the more noxious by the presence of a city zoning regulation designed to help preserve theatre space on 42nd Street that permitte construction of a taller tower than would normally be allowed. This caused his scheme to be stalled in the face of stiff community opposition.
However, in the end, the developer always wins and the result became 440 West 42nd Street, a 60-story, full-block luxury monstrosity with 623 rental units, 151 condos on upper floors and a new space for the Signature Theatre Company.
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