Friday, May 11, 2007

The Lyric Theater Facade

October 1988

April 2007

The Lyric Theater's main entry was on 42 Street, but the theater itself fronted West 43 Street, directly opposite the New York Times building. Built in 1903, it ran legitmate shows until 1934, when it began showing movies.

The first photo was taken on October 21, 1988, early in the morning. I was working on West 44 Street by now, and my routine was to walk up 7 Avenue to Times Square, then decide which squalid side street to use for my journey west. I liked West 43 better than West 44, since 44 Street meant dodging the paper rolls and ink trucks spilling out of the
Times' loading dock. (Yes, ink trucks: stainless steel tractor-trailer tankers. If it's not smart to argue with someone who buys ink by the pound, woe to he who argues with the Ochs family.)

Even covered with 85 years of grime it's an impressive sight. Notice the three iron struts sticking out on the left side, between the single window and the three main ones? They held the original electric sign. Though this theater had a 42 Street address, 43 Street was the true front of the building. In truth, the 42 Street side was little more than a 25-foot wide facade with an arcade leading to the theater itself; The New Amsterdam, across 42 Street, follows a similar layout.

The Lyric had been empty for years and was festering when the first image was made; it would soon be taken over by the City and State of New York, then was finally condemmned. With the revival of Times Square in the mid 1990's it, along with the adjacent Apollo, was gutted. The developers combined the two spaces, and elements of both theaters, notably the Lyric's domed ceiling and the Apollo's proscenium arch, were preserved and today make up the Hilton Theater. The now cleaned-up facade of the Lyric serves as the 43 Street entrance to the building

1 comment:

Sharon Kugler said...

Nice! and educational besides.

Y'know, it's hard to compare the shots when the old B&Ws look so much more...important, somehow, in
their stark palette. More important... and yet when I see the image in color I want to say, "ooohhh, prettier!"