Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Broadway, 1955ish image Bill found among the slides and a soon to be hot rodded jalopy

The above image lit a fire in Steve, he went above and beyond to figure out when the photo was taken... I only thought the stop lights were interesting for their 2 light tiny curbside location... but Steve? He doesn't stop at the small stuff, he went Sherlock on this photo!

The photo was definitively taken at 3:55 p.m. between Friday, May 14 and Wednesday, June 28, 1955. The photographer was standing on Broadway, just south of 50th Street - and was facing north. The Capitol Theater was at Broadway and 51st (1645 Broadway, just north of Times Square) in New York City.

Narrowing down the date further is problematic, as most days in that date range experienced partly cloudy weather, but temperatures started getting a bit warmer around the end of May, so judging by their clothes, figure around the last week of May to the first week of June. Both clocks in the photo show 3:55 p.m.

The Capitol Theater opened October 24, 1919. It became the flagship of the Loew's Theatres chain in 1924 when it was acquired by Marcus Loew. It became a Cinerama wide screen theater in 1964, and its last showing was the New York premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It closed September 16, 1968, "with a live all-star benefit featuring Bob Hope and Johnny Carson." [Wikipedia] The Paramount Plaza office tower stands in its place today.

The show Plain and Fancy was playing at the Winter Garden across the street.

Well, I didn't peg the name of the follow up movie - but since you asked, it was Not as a Stranger with "Olivia de Havilland and Robert Mitchum in the lead roles, backed by a stellar supporting cast including Frank Sinatra, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford, Charles Bickford, Lon Chaney, Jr., Harry Morgan, and Lee Marvin." [Wikipedia]

Both The Prodigal and Not as a Stranger made their New York debut at the Capitol Theater.

Note: the Mutual of New York (MONY) building - five blocks north - was the first to skyscraper to have an electronic clock installed at the top of the roof. It was built in 1950 - designed by the same firm that designed the Empire State Building, and used the Empire Style. Also, you probably already knew that the MONY sign was the inspiration for the 1968 hit Mony Mony by Tommy James and the Shondells - later made a hit again by Billy Idol.

A note on the Winter Garden Theater - because it has a weak car connection: It was built in 1896 by a Vanderbilt as the American Horse Exchange. The Shuberts turned it into a theater in 1911 and it was extensively remodeled in 1922. When Al Jolson played there, it had a runway that went out into the audience, upon which Jolson would run out and slide on his knees while singing. The audience, as they say, went wild.

It is most famous for the nearly 19 year-long run of the musical Cats. When that show closed the theater was restored to its 1920s appearance.

Now here's the weak car connection: From 2002 to 2007 General Motors sponsorship saw it renamed the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre. After sponsored ended the original name was restored.
thanks Bill! and Steve!

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