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 interiorshave been designated city landmarks; these days, it’s being utilized as a church.
15 of New York City’s most spectacular theaters
1 Paradise Theater
Bronx, NY 10468
2 Apollo Theater
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.
New York, NY 10027
3 Beacon Theatre
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.
New York, NY 10023
4 Vivian Beaumont Theater
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.
New York, NY 10023
5 New York City Center
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.
New York, NY 10019
6 Radio City Music Hall
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 Hardywas 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.
New York, NY 10020
7 Richard Rodgers Theatre
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.”
New York, NY 10036
8 Palace Theatre
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.
New York, NY 10036
9 Majestic Theatre
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.
New York, NY 10036
10 Lyceum Theatre
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.
New York, NY 10036
11 The Public Theater
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.
New York, NY 10003
12 St. Ann’s Warehouse
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.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
13 BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building
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.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
14 Kings Theatre
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.
Brooklyn, NY 11226
15 St. George Theatre
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.
Staten Island, NY 10301