42nd Street reigns as the world’s entertainment capital in the first two decades of the 20th century, presenting legitimate plays in the theaters between Broadway and 8th Avenue.
The Depression ushers in the Burlesque era as Broadway theater producers face the threat of bankruptcy and the general public craves affordable entertainment. Burlesque gives way to motion pictures and the Broadway theater district is established several blocks north.
All of Times Square begins to suffer from the increasing corruption of prostitution and gambling. First-run movies are gradually replaced by “art” films and second-run movies, and eventually, grindhouse films. By the early 70s, 42nd Street is saturated with adult uses and street crime.
City and State officials formally join together to create the 42nd Street Development Project and establish a 13-acre renewal site stretching two city blocks along 42nd Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue. The plan describes the block’s theaters as “irreplaceable architectural and historical assets” that should be restored and adapted for cultural and entertainment uses.
The New 42nd Street is officially announced as the independent, nonprofit organization charged with long-term oversight of the renovation and ongoing operation of seven historic theaters between 7th and 8th Avenues. Within a year, the Board votes to launch the street’s renewal with the renovation of the Victory as the city’s first nonprofit theater programmed for the city’s youth.
The New 42nd Street signs a 99-year master lease with the City and State, taking on long-term responsibility for the Liberty, Victory, Selwyn, Apollo, Times Square, Lyric and Empire theaters.
Walt Disney Company signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the City and State containing essential lease terms for the New Amsterdam Theatre.
The 42nd Street Development Project signs Memorandums of Understanding with:
- Tishman Urban Development Corporation for the redevelopment of the northwestern end of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue
- Forest City Ratner for the redevelopment of the south side of the block, including the Liberty and Empire Theaters
- Livent Inc. to combine the Apollo and Lyric Theaters to form a new Broadway musical theater.
December 11: Gala Opening and Dedication of The New Victory Theater—New York’s first theater for kids and families.
All remaining adult uses on 42nd Street are closed. The New 42nd Street votes to convert the Selwyn offices and adjacent infill property into the New 42nd Street Studios, fulfilling the requirement for two nonprofit organizations on the properties under its jurisdiction. Tishman announces its plans for “E Walk, ” an 860-room hotel and a 200,000 square-foot entertainment and retail center including a movie complex, and Forest City Ratner signs the master lease for the Empire and Harris Theaters.
Forest City Ratner begins renovations and re-construction of the Harris, Liberty and Empire theaters to build an AMC multi-screen movie complex and a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Tishman begins construction on “E Walk,” and Roundabout Theatre Company signs a Memorandum of Understanding for the Selwyn Theater.
May 18: Disney opens the New Amsterdam Theatre with the premiere of Alan Menken and Tim Rice’s King David oratorio, followed by Elton John and Time Rice’s The Lion King in October.
December 26: Livent Inc. opens the Ford Center for the Performing Arts with the New York premiere of Ragtime.
December 30: The Selwyn office building collapses, destroying the historic facade that was to have been incorporated into the New 42nd Street Studios building. The New 42nd Street announces plans to redesign and maintain the projected construction schedule.
Forest City Ratner moves the Empire theater 170 feet from the center of 42nd Street to the corner at Eighth Avenue to be used as the main entrance to the AMC movie theater complex.
SFX Entertainment Inc. purchases Livent Inc. and becomes the operator of The Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Tishman’s “E Walk” officially opens.
The AMC Empire 25 movie complex and the Hilton Times Square open as part of the Forest City Ratner complex.
June 21: Opening celebration of the New 42nd Street® Studios, a ten-story facility containing rehearsal studios, offices and a 199-seat theater called The Duke on 42nd Street.
July 27: Roundabout Theatre Company opens the 750-seat American Airlines Theatre with the revival of The Man Who Came To Dinner.
The Ford Center for the Performing Arts is renamed the Hilton Theatre.
Forest City Ratner leases The Liberty Theater to the restaurant chain Famous Dave’s.
The Hilton Theatre is renamed the Foxwoods Theatre.
Ambassador Theatre Group purchases the Foxwoods Theatre and renames the venue the Lyric Theatre, currently home to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which opened on April 22, 2018.
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, proclaims Monday, April 11th, 2016 in the City of New York as “New 42nd Street Day.”
Stillman Development International announces they will transform The Times Square Theater into a multi-floor retail space.