1, 2, 3, 7, N, R, Q, W, S, A, C, E to 42nd St / Times Square
The New 42nd Street determined that under its aegis, it could give New York something the city did not yet have: The New Victory Theater, New York’s first and only full-time performing arts center for kids and families. The first theater under the stewardship of The New 42nd Street to be restored, the once dilapidated adult movie house completed its $11.4 million renovation (headed by architect Hugh Hardy) on December 11, 1995.
From the sidewalk, The New Victory bears a striking resemblance to the design Hammerstein unveiled in 1900, with its Venetian-styled façade, grand double staircase and wrought-iron lamps. Just as Belasco modernized the space decades earlier, Hugh Hardy modernized The New Victory. He reduced the number of seats from 700 to 500 in order to create lobbies and public areas that would accommodate families’ needs. The wide stairwells, large bathrooms, free storage lockers and a patron elevator not only facilitate mobility for families, but increase accessibility for disabled audience members.
If the exterior pays tribute to Hammerstein, the interior pays tribute to Belasco. Each row is bookended by wrought-iron stanchions with ornately carved bees, and in a spirited tribute to the theater’s previous owner, the seats are upholstered with fabric featuring a bee motif.
Paul Goldberger, in his 1995 New York Times article, describes a visit to the newly opened New Victory as “a striking rhythm of walking through layers of time: the past in the street façade, then a pause in the present in the lobby, then a return to the past in the auditorium.” He lauds the renovation as “sensitive but not slavish ... supporting its original architecture while allowing plenty of room for the late 20th century to show through.”