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15 of New York City’s most spectacular theaters

Come for the shows, stay for the stunning architecture and interiors

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Among New York City’s many iconic buildings are a good number of performing arts venues—Broadway houses, former Wonder Theatres, and off-Broadway venues in repurposed buildings among them. The shows that play at these spaces may be the main draw (hello, Hamilton), but the architecture is often just as compelling.

Here, you’ll find 15 of the city’s most stunning theaters—ones that have withstood the test of time, have interesting back stories, or and still boar interiors that are worth gawking at. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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1. Paradise Theater

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2403 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10468

When this historic Bronx theater debuted in 1929, it was touted as one of the “Loew’s Wonder Theatres,” along with its counterparts located in Queens, Brooklyn, Washington Heights, and Jersey City. Architect John Eberson bestowed the Paradise Theater with designs inspired by a 16th-century Italian baroque garden and a ceiling meant to evoke the feeling of being under a moonlit sky. Both the building itself and its interiors have been designated city landmarks; these days, it’s being utilized as a church.

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2. Apollo Theater

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253 W 125th St
New York, NY 10027
(212) 531-5300
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Few theaters have as rich a history as Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater. The building was originally constructed in 1914 and designed by George Keister. It initially operated as a whites-only burlesque theater, but in 1934, the theater was purchased by Sidney Cohen and began welcoming Harlem’s black community. Over the years, everyone from James Brown to the Jackson 5 to Beyoncé has performed there. In 2001, the Apollo received a renovation helmed by Beyer Blinder Belle that restored its interiors and welcomed a new marquee.

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3. Beacon Theatre

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2124 Broadway
New York, NY 10023
(212) 465-6500
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This Upper West Side venue dates back to 1926, when film producer Herbert Lubin made the determination that New York needed a chain of deluxe movie palaces for motion pictures and vaudeville. The 2,894-seat theater was designed by architect Walter Ahlschlager and features neo-Grecian details that include gilded plaster moldings, marble floors, a huge corridor mural, and bronze doors.

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4. Vivian Beaumont Theater

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50 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023
(212) 362-7600
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It’s safe to say that all of the buildings that make up the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts are stunning, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the Eero Saarinen-designed Vivian Beaumont Theater. This venue is younger than others on this list, debuting in 1965. Its modern design features an airy lobby topped with a large, travertine-covered roof, which is home to the NYPL’s performing arts library. A sculpture by Henry Moore sits in the public plaza in front of the theater.

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5. New York City Center

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131 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 581-1212
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The erstwhile “Mecca Temple”—once used by the Shriners—was designed by architect Harry P. Knowles in the neo-Moorish style. Its features include a terra cotta roof dome and mosaic-patterned walls and columns. In 2010, the landmarked building underwent a $75 million renovation that restored the original lobby and brought in new seats.

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6. Radio City Music Hall

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1260 6th Ave
New York, NY 10020
(212) 465-6741
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This iconic performing arts venue has been captivating visitors since its 1930s debut. The ornate Art Deco design was the product of a collaboration between Edward Durrell Stone and interior designer Donald Deskey. During the 1990s, late architect Hugh Hardy was tapped to give the auditorium a modern revamp that has remained in place since. From its red and gold-themed main hall, to its elegant bathrooms, this place is truly stunning.

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7. Richard Rodgers Theatre

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226 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 221-1211
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If you’ve been lucky enough to score tickets to Hamilton, you’re likely familiar with this Broadway theater. Architect Herbert J. Krapp designed this venue, formerly known as the 46th Street Theatre, as the first venue on the Great White Way with a “democratic” seating plan that allowed patrons with cheaper seats to enter through the same doors as those with pricier seats. Though it’s a bit dated, the interiors are still something worth marveling at—the AIA Guide to New York City calls it “a style that could be coined as Broadway Renaissance.”

8. Palace Theatre

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1564 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(212) 730-8200
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In its prime, the Palace Theatre was one of the most sought-after venues among vaudeville performers. These days, almost all of the Kirchoff & Rose-designed facade is hidden behind massive billboards but after a 2014 renovation, the interiors are pretty stunning. Another renovation could be in the Palace’s future: In 2015, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a $2 billion renovation plan that includes expanding the theater three floors below ground, a new lobby, and new dressing rooms.

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9. Majestic Theatre

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245 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 239-6200
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The Majestic, which opened in 1927, is another NYC theater that was designed by Herbert Krapp. Its architectural flair includes a domed ceiling with elaborate detailing, ornate statues that frame the stage, and fancy chandeliers. In 1987, both the building’s interior and exterior were designated city landmarks.

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10. Lyceum Theatre

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149 W 45th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 239-6200
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Located on West 45th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, the Lyceum Theatre is Broadway’s oldest continuously operating stage—and one that the AIA Guide describes as “magnificent,” thanks to its “the grandest of Beaux Arts facades.” The 922-seat theater is a landmark, so much of its design is intact, including a stunning marble staircase, elaborate facade detailing, and its undulating marquee.

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11. The Public Theater

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425 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 539-8500
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The Public Theater has the distinction of being one of very first buildings to be named a New York City landmark back in 1965. Its red brick HQ, located a few blocks south of Astor Place, was once home to a library created by John Jacob Astor. It was turned into a theater by Joseph Papp in 1967, and underwent an extensive renovation a few years back that modernized the place while keeping its vintage charm intact.

The Public Theater Scott Lynch

12. St. Ann's Warehouse

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45 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 254-8779
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In 2015, Dumbo’s St. Ann’s Warehouse unveiled a brand new theater within the Tobacco Warehouse, a 19th-century structure that was retrofitted—to the tune of $31 million—into a stunning new performance space. The new structure has a 10,000-square-foot open performance space with seating for 700, and a 7,800-square-foot open-air garden designed by Brooklyn Bridge Park landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

St. Ann's Warehouse David Sundberg

13. BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building

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651 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 636-4100
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It’s hard to single out just one of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s buildings for the purposes of this map, but the Peter Jay Sharp building is a good contender. The granite and terra cotta building was designed by Herts & Tallant in 1908 and is home to both the Howard Gilman Opera House and BAM Rose Cinemas. Its stunning facade features an undulating canopy (part of a later addition by Hugh Hardy) and arched windows; the interiors are decked out with dramatic ceilings and plasterwork.

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14. Kings Theatre

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1027 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11226
(800) 745-3000
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For decades years, this historic Brooklyn theater sat crumbling and abandoned until the city decided to move forward with a $94 million restoration project in January 2013. Architects Martinez+Johnson restored the theater’s French Renaissance decor, including its glazed terra cotta ornamental facade, the ornate ceilings, and its plaster walls. The theater is now even more glorious than ever before and hosts a multitude of events—concerts, comedy shows, and the like—every year.

15. St. George Theatre

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35 Hyatt St
Staten Island, NY 10301
(718) 442-2900
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At one point in time, the St. George Theater on Staten Island looked like it was headed for demolition but luckily it was saved in 2004 and has since gone on to host a series of performances and events. Designed by architect Eugene De Rosa, the theater first opened in December 1929. Its Baroque interiors were crafted by designer Nestor Castro and feature stained glass along with gold plasterwork.

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1. Paradise Theater

2403 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10468

When this historic Bronx theater debuted in 1929, it was touted as one of the “Loew’s Wonder Theatres,” along with its counterparts located in Queens, Brooklyn, Washington Heights, and Jersey City. Architect John Eberson bestowed the Paradise Theater with designs inspired by a 16th-century Italian baroque garden and a ceiling meant to evoke the feeling of being under a moonlit sky. Both the building itself and its interiors have been designated city landmarks; these days, it’s being utilized as a church.

2403 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10468

2. Apollo Theater

253 W 125th St, New York, NY 10027
Federico Rostagno/Shutterstock.com

Few theaters have as rich a history as Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater. The building was originally constructed in 1914 and designed by George Keister. It initially operated as a whites-only burlesque theater, but in 1934, the theater was purchased by Sidney Cohen and began welcoming Harlem’s black community. Over the years, everyone from James Brown to the Jackson 5 to Beyoncé has performed there. In 2001, the Apollo received a renovation helmed by Beyer Blinder Belle that restored its interiors and welcomed a new marquee.

253 W 125th St
New York, NY 10027

3. Beacon Theatre

2124 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

This Upper West Side venue dates back to 1926, when film producer Herbert Lubin made the determination that New York needed a chain of deluxe movie palaces for motion pictures and vaudeville. The 2,894-seat theater was designed by architect Walter Ahlschlager and features neo-Grecian details that include gilded plaster moldings, marble floors, a huge corridor mural, and bronze doors.

2124 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

4. Vivian Beaumont Theater

50 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023

It’s safe to say that all of the buildings that make up the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts are stunning, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the Eero Saarinen-designed Vivian Beaumont Theater. This venue is younger than others on this list, debuting in 1965. Its modern design features an airy lobby topped with a large, travertine-covered roof, which is home to the NYPL’s performing arts library. A sculpture by Henry Moore sits in the public plaza in front of the theater.

50 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023

5. New York City Center

131 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

The erstwhile “Mecca Temple”—once used by the Shriners—was designed by architect Harry P. Knowles in the neo-Moorish style. Its features include a terra cotta roof dome and mosaic-patterned walls and columns. In 2010, the landmarked building underwent a $75 million renovation that restored the original lobby and brought in new seats.

131 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

6. Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020
Shutterstock.com

This iconic performing arts venue has been captivating visitors since its 1930s debut. The ornate Art Deco design was the product of a collaboration between Edward Durrell Stone and interior designer Donald Deskey. During the 1990s, late architect Hugh Hardy was tapped to give the auditorium a modern revamp that has remained in place since. From its red and gold-themed main hall, to its elegant bathrooms, this place is truly stunning.

1260 6th Ave
New York, NY 10020

7. Richard Rodgers Theatre

226 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

If you’ve been lucky enough to score tickets to Hamilton, you’re likely familiar with this Broadway theater. Architect Herbert J. Krapp designed this venue, formerly known as the 46th Street Theatre, as the first venue on the Great White Way with a “democratic” seating plan that allowed patrons with cheaper seats to enter through the same doors as those with pricier seats. Though it’s a bit dated, the interiors are still something worth marveling at—the AIA Guide to New York City calls it “a style that could be coined as Broadway Renaissance.”

226 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036

8. Palace Theatre

1564 Broadway, New York, NY 10036

In its prime, the Palace Theatre was one of the most sought-after venues among vaudeville performers. These days, almost all of the Kirchoff & Rose-designed facade is hidden behind massive billboards but after a 2014 renovation, the interiors are pretty stunning. Another renovation could be in the Palace’s future: In 2015, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a $2 billion renovation plan that includes expanding the theater three floors below ground, a new lobby, and new dressing rooms.

1564 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

9. Majestic Theatre

245 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

The Majestic, which opened in 1927, is another NYC theater that was designed by Herbert Krapp. Its architectural flair includes a domed ceiling with elaborate detailing, ornate statues that frame the stage, and fancy chandeliers. In 1987, both the building’s interior and exterior were designated city landmarks.

245 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036

10. Lyceum Theatre

149 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Located on West 45th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, the Lyceum Theatre is Broadway’s oldest continuously operating stage—and one that the AIA Guide describes as “magnificent,” thanks to its “the grandest of Beaux Arts facades.” The 922-seat theater is a landmark, so much of its design is intact, including a stunning marble staircase, elaborate facade detailing, and its undulating marquee.

149 W 45th St
New York, NY 10036

11. The Public Theater

425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003
The Public Theater Scott Lynch

The Public Theater has the distinction of being one of very first buildings to be named a New York City landmark back in 1965. Its red brick HQ, located a few blocks south of Astor Place, was once home to a library created by John Jacob Astor. It was turned into a theater by Joseph Papp in 1967, and underwent an extensive renovation a few years back that modernized the place while keeping its vintage charm intact.

425 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003

12. St. Ann's Warehouse

45 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
St. Ann's Warehouse David Sundberg

In 2015, Dumbo’s St. Ann’s Warehouse unveiled a brand new theater within the Tobacco Warehouse, a 19th-century structure that was retrofitted—to the tune of $31 million—into a stunning new performance space. The new structure has a 10,000-square-foot open performance space with seating for 700, and a 7,800-square-foot open-air garden designed by Brooklyn Bridge Park landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

45 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

13. BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building

651 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Shutterstock.com

It’s hard to single out just one of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s buildings for the purposes of this map, but the Peter Jay Sharp building is a good contender. The granite and terra cotta building was designed by Herts & Tallant in 1908 and is home to both the Howard Gilman Opera House and BAM Rose Cinemas. Its stunning facade features an undulating canopy (part of a later addition by Hugh Hardy) and arched windows; the interiors are decked out with dramatic ceilings and plasterwork.

651 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11217

14. Kings Theatre

1027 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226

For decades years, this historic Brooklyn theater sat crumbling and abandoned until the city decided to move forward with a $94 million restoration project in January 2013. Architects Martinez+Johnson restored the theater’s French Renaissance decor, including its glazed terra cotta ornamental facade, the ornate ceilings, and its plaster walls. The theater is now even more glorious than ever before and hosts a multitude of events—concerts, comedy shows, and the like—every year.

1027 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11226

15. St. George Theatre

35 Hyatt St, Staten Island, NY 10301

At one point in time, the St. George Theater on Staten Island looked like it was headed for demolition but luckily it was saved in 2004 and has since gone on to host a series of performances and events. Designed by architect Eugene De Rosa, the theater first opened in December 1929. Its Baroque interiors were crafted by designer Nestor Castro and feature stained glass along with gold plasterwork.

35 Hyatt St
Staten Island, NY 10301