Beacon Theater New York City
Beacon Theater – Tourist Attractions in New York City
Beacon Theater in NYC, New York, USA
The Beacon Theatre is an historic New York City theater on upper Broadway in Manhattan. A 2,800-seat, three-tiered concert hall and early movie palace, it was designed by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager as a forum for vaudeville acts, musical productions, drama, opera, and the then novel talking pictures.
Opened in 1928, its ornate neo-Grecian interior features thirty-foot-tall Greek goddesses flanking the proscenium arch of its curtainless stage, which can rise from its basement level carrying a full classical orchestra. Under its marquee is an exterior lobby with tile flooring extending to the sidewalk along Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets, across from the Beaux-Arts Ansonia Hotel. Entry is gained through its bronze-doored vestibule into an opulent two-story circular lobby. White marble floors give way to mahogany bars on both the orchestra and mezzanine levels, and two more levels provide access to both the foot and top of its steeply inclined upper balcony. Exquisite detailing abounds throughout, including polished hardwood and terra cotta moldings, brass staircase rails, and corridor murals depicting Eastern scenes of trading caravans with elephants, camels and other animals depicted.
In 1986, there was an effort to convert the theater into a nightclub, but in 1987 a judge blocked the request on the grounds that it would irreparably damage the theater’s historic and protected architecture. Subsequently the theater underwent a revival in its concert hall business, filling New York’s low-to-mid-sized venue notch between the larger Radio City Music Hall and various smaller clubs and ballrooms. While not located in Midtown Manhattan, it is reached from there via express 2 or 3 or local 1 subway trains to the 72nd Street (IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line) station two blocks from the theater.
With its superior acoustics, the Beacon has been a favored New York City stop for tops acts since the 1920’s. Once home to vaudeville and its own orchestra along with silent and talking pictures, the theater is now the leading Upper West Side venue for R&B, pop, and rock concerts. Headliners in the modern era have included James Taylor, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Queen, and many others. From the mid-1990s on, the musical act most associated with the theater has been The Allman Brothers Band, who take over the venue in March of each year for an extended series of shows known among the group and their fans as “The Beacon Run”. The venue has become a second “Fillmore” for the band.
The theater’s stage has also supported political debates, gospel choirs, and a wide variety of dramatic productions. VH-1 broadcast its popular production Divas Live from there. Many of George Carlin’s HBO comedy specials have been broadcast from or filmed there. In the 2000s, the Beacon Theater also often offers light comedy geared toward African-American audiences, making it a favorite destination for troupes working the Chitlin Circuit.
In November, 2006, the theater commenced a 20-year lease by Cablevision, owner of Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden. The company announced a planned a $10 million renovation of the theater.
2124 Broadway (between West
74th and 75th streets)
New York, NY 10023
By Subway: 1, 2, or 3 trains to West 72nd Street