MID116-1.jpg (59233 bytes) New York Architecture Images- Midtown

Times Square Theater


DeRosa and Pereira


217 W42, bet. Seventh and Eighth Aves. 






limestone facade







Built by Arch and Edgar Selwyn, was big hit, having big '20s productions such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". Converted to moviehouse in 30s, now waiting to come back to life.
  Hip-Hop Store to Open in Times Square Theater 

Published: July 15, 2004 

After years of near misses with proposed theme restaurants and TV studios, the long-dormant Times Square Theater on 42nd Street finally has a tenant: Ecko Unlimited, the high-flying hip-hop clothing and lifestyle company. 

The 84-year-old theater, which is on the north side of the street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and features a three-story, 100-foot-long Doric colonnade, is the last of eight historic theaters on 42nd Street to find new life as a result of the 22-year effort to revitalize Times Square. Many of the others are once again home to theatrical productions. But Ecko says it plans to transform the theater into a four-level, $25 million supermarket of what is cool and fashionable in clothing, art, video games, electronics and collectible sneakers for the urban youth market. 

"When you think of what's trendy, this is where you're going to be able to find it," Seth Gerszberg, president of Marc Ecko Enterprises, the parent company, said yesterday. "We needed to be in Times Square, where youth culture converges. Finding this place was just meant to be." 

Ecko will keep many of the building's historic features, from the 25-foot-high proscenium arch over the stage to the ornamental plasterwork and the domed ceiling. 

The theater was built in 1920 by the Selwyn brothers and was home to a string of major theatrical hits - "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "The Front Page," "Strike Up the Band" and "Private Lives" - between 1926 and 1933. Legend has it that Tallulah Bankhead bankrolled the theater's last stage production, which flopped. By the 1940's, there was a retail store built on the stage, with its doors on 42nd Street. In the 1980's, the theater showed kung-fu movies. 

The state later took control of the property as part of the 42nd Street redevelopment project. But even after the nearby New Victory Theater was renovated and Disney took over the landmark New Amsterdam Theater across 42nd Street, the Times Square remained dark and grimy-faced. At one point or another, Marvel Enterprises wanted to build a theme restaurant with Spider-Man crawling up the side of the building, CBS considered relocating its morning show there, and Livent, MTV, Billboard and Viacom considered live productions. But the deals always fell apart. 

Cora Cahan, president of the New 42nd Street, the nonprofit group that oversees seven of the eight historic theaters, said her group had been talking with two prospective tenants when Ecko came along last year. A lease was signed last week, and Ecko hopes to open in early 2006. 

"We reversed field, because of their passion and what it was they wanted to do," she said of Ecko. "We've always said diversity of uses on the block was the key to revitalization. For me, the spirit with which they approached the street and the theater was irresistible." 

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company