New York City's Theater District (sometimes spelled Theatre District,
and officially zoned as the "Theater Subdistrict") is an area in
Manhattan where most Broadway theaters are located, as well as
many other theaters, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, and other
places of entertainment. It extends from West 40th Street to West 54th
Street, and from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue, and includes Times
The Great White Way
The Great White Way is the name given to the section of
Broadway which runs through the Theater District.
It also contains recording studios, record label offices, theatrical
agencies, television studios, restaurants, Duffy Square, Shubert
Alley, the Brill Building, a
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium,
Madame Tussauds of New York.
2.1 Origins and early history
2.2 Joe Papp's "Save the Theatres" campaign
2.3 Theater Subdistrict zoning
2.4 Other nearby theater areas
3 See also
6 External links
City of New York defines the subdistrict for zoning purposes to
extend from 40th Street to 57th Street and from Sixth Avenue to Eighth
Avenue, with an additional area west of Eighth Avenue from 42nd Street
to 45th Street. The
Times Square Alliance, a Business Improvement
District organization dedicated to improving the Theater District,
defines the district as an irregularly shaped area within the bounding
box of 40th Street, 6th Ave, 53rd Street, and 9th Ave.
Origins and early history
The Theater District first began attracting theaters and restaurants
to the neighborhood after the Metropolitan Opera House moved to West
39th Street and Broadway in 1883.
Over the years since then, the district has been referred to by New
Yorkers as "the Rialto," as "The Main Stem," and as "Broadway," and at
the turn of the 20th century, was simply called "The Street.".
By the 1970s, the 42nd Street area in the district had become run-down
and seedy – with the opening of some
X-rated movie houses, peep
shows, and so-called grind houses there – and was even considered a
somewhat dangerous place to venture into by many New Yorkers. The
entire area was later significantly revitalized by the city in the
1990s, with the closing of most of those businesses, and the opening
of an array of new theatres, multiplex movie houses, restaurants, and
Joe Papp's "Save the Theatres" campaign
In the Spring of 1982, Joseph Papp, the Broadway theatrical producer,
and director who had established The Public Theater, led a campaign
called "Save the Theatres" in Manhattan. The primary initial goal
of the "Save the Theatres" effort, which was sponsored by Papp's
not-for-profit group and supported by the
Actors Equity union, was to
save several theater buildings in the Theatre District neighborhood
from their impending demolition by monied
interests. Papp provided financial resources, campaign
buttons, posters, and newspaper ads for the effort; recruited a
publicist and actors to promote the cause; and provided a various
stage and street venues for public events in support of the campaign
for saving the historic theatres.
At Papp's behest, in July 1982, U.S. Congressman
Donald J. Mitchell
Donald J. Mitchell of
New York, and 13 co-sponsors,[a] introduced a bill in the 97th
Congress (1981–82), entitled "H.R.6885, A bill to designate the
Times Square Theatre District in the
City of New York as a
national historic site". The proposed legislation, which failed to
be enacted, would have required the Federal Government to aid
financially and otherwise in preserving the district and its historic
theatre houses as an official National Historic Site.
Save the Theatres campaign then turned their efforts toward
supporting the establishment of the Theater District as a registered
City historic district. In December 1983, Save the
Theatres prepared "The Broadway Theater District, a Preservation
Development and Management Plan," and demanded that each theater in
the district receive landmark designation. Mayor Koch ultimately
responded by creating a Theater Advisory Council, that included Papp
as a member, and which eventually led to the area being officially
zoned as the "Theater Subdistrict."
Theater Subdistrict zoning
In January 2001, the New York Appellate Division, First Department in
Fisher v. Giuliani 280 A.D.2d 13 (2001) 720 N.Y.S.2d 50, partially
upheld the 1998 expansion of the Theater Subdistrict zoning
regulations, which added receiving sites along Eighth Avenue where
development rights from the landmarked Broadway Theaters could be
sold. Community and civic organizations opposed the expansion of the
district as it would impinge the nearby Clinton/Hell's Kitchen
residential neighborhood. The court objection, filed in 1999, did not
challenge the pre-existing Theater Subdistrict itself or the original
development rights zoning legislation.
City also created the "Theater Subdistrict Council," LDC
(“TSC”), a not-for-profit corporation, under the 1998 zoning
regulation. The TSC administers the Theater Subdistrict Fund and
The New York
City Zoning Resolution for special purpose districts, as
amended on April 30, 2012, contains special regulations for the
Theater Subdistrict, including the transfer of development rights,
incentives for the rehabilitation of existing theaters, the creation
of a theater council to promote theaters, and zoning and signage for
theaters, and contains a list of theaters that qualify for special
provisions in the regulations.
Other nearby theater areas
The area known as Theatre Row is an area on 42nd Street from Ninth
Avenue to Eleventh Avenue, which includes many
Boston Theater District
Buffalo Theater District
Cleveland Theater District
Theater in Detroit
Houston Theater District
Broadway Theater District (Los Angeles)
Theater District (San Francisco, California)
Yiddish Theater District
^ Co-sponsors of the Mitchell bill included: Rep. Michael D. Barnes
Barber B. Conable, Jr.
Barber B. Conable, Jr. (NY), Rep.
Thomas A. Daschle
Thomas A. Daschle (SD),
Arlen Erdahl (MN), Rep.
David W. Evans
David W. Evans (IN), Rep. Hamilton Fish,
Jr. (NY), Rep.
Thomas M. Foglietta (PA), Rep.
Peter A. Peyser
Peter A. Peyser (NY),
Peter W. Rodino, Jr.
Peter W. Rodino, Jr. (NJ), Rep.
Louis Stokes (OH), Rep. Ted Weiss
George C. Wortley
George C. Wortley (NY), and Rep.
Ron Wyden (OR).
^ "New York Zip Code Boundary Map (NY)". Zipmap.net. Retrieved
February 26, 2013.
^ a b "New York
City Department of
City Planning". NYC.gov. Retrieved
March 3, 2013.
^ Editors of Time Out (2011). Time Out New York. Time Out Guides.
Retrieved February 26, 2013. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list
^ a b Eleanor Berman (2013). Top 10 New York City. Penguin. Retrieved
February 28, 2013.
^ Sascha Zuger (2011). Moon New York State. Avalon Travel. Retrieved
February 28, 2013.
Special Purpose Districts: Manhattan:
Special Midtown Districts" on
the official NYC website. Accessed: February 21, 2013
^ Times Square: Times Square/Theater District Dining
^ AnneLise Sorensen, Eleanor Berman (2012). DK Eyewitness Travel
Guide: New York City. Penguin. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
^ Irving L. Allen (1995).
City In Slang: New York Life and Popular
Speech. Oxford University Press. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
^ William R. Taylor (April 22, 1996). Inventing Times Square: Commerce
and Culture at the Crossroads of the World. JHU Press. Retrieved March
^ The name of the organization was "Save the Theatres, Inc., as noted
in court papers. See Shubert Organization, Inc. v. Landmarks
Preservation Commission of the
City of New York and Save the Theatres,
Inc., Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department,
May 16, 1991, accessed March 10, 2013
^ "Proposal to Save Morosco and Helen Hayes Theaters", LHP Architects,
accessed March 10, 2013
^ a b c Helen Epstein. Joe Papp: An American Life. Retrieved February
City Panel Near Vote On Save-The-Theaters Proposals". New York
City: NYTimes.com. April 15, 1984. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
^ Corwin, Betty "Theatre on film and tape archive", International
Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts, accessed
May 10, 2013
^ Bill Summary & Status –
97th Congress (1981–1982) –
H.R.6885 - Co-Sponsors Thomas.loc.gov. Retrieved December 10, 2015
^ a b "Bill Summary & Status –
97th Congress (1981–1982) –
H.R.6885". Thomas.loc.gov. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
^ Lynne B. Sagalyn (2003).
Times Square Roulette: Remaking the City
Icon. MIT Press. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
^ a b Peter Bosselmann (August 28, 1985). Representation of Places –
Imprimé: Reality and Realism in
City Design. Retrieved February 26,
^ a b "Theater Subdistrict Council – New York
City Department of
City Planning". Nyc.gov. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
City of New York Zoning Resolution; Article VIII; Chapter 1;"
(PDF). Mayor Bloomberg; New York
City Planning Commission; Department
City Planning. May 25, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
Bianco, Anthony (2004). Ghosts of 42nd Street: A History of America's
Most Infamous Block. New York: HarperCollins Books,
ISBN 0-688-17089-7. A detailed history that focuses primarily of
Times Square Theater District from the beginning of the 20th
century through its successful revival/restoration in the late 20th
Find more aboutTheater District, Manhattanat's sister
Media from Wikimedia Commons
Travel guide from Wikivoyage
NYC.com Visitor Guide: Theater District (official site of New York
Theater District Dining (official site of Times Square)
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