From 1883 to 1966, the Metropolitan Opera occupied a massive building on Broadway between 39th and 40th. But by the early 1960s, numerous fires, renovations, and an inadequate backstage area forced the company to seek newer lodgings, eventually agreeing to move uptown to Lincoln Center, which was then under construction.
With the threat of demolition looming, a preservation battle over the future of the "Old Met" began. This fight culminated in one of the first failures of the Landmarks Preservation Commission since its formation in 1965, with the LPC voting 6 to 5 not to designate the performance space. A final gala closed the space on April 16, 1966, and by 1970, the Old Met had been replaced by a forty-story office tower.
Thankfully, photographers from the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey visited the site a few months before demolition, capturing the Old Met in all its glory.
· The 'Old Met' In Its Final Days [CityLab]