Theatre Row on 125th Street, Harlem 1890’s

January 9, 2014

Harlem, along 125th street, had a large number of theaters at the turn of the last century. These theaters are long gone except for the Apollo theater, the theaters that have survived are now churches or the theaters have been sealed up. 125th Street was the magnet for all things entertainment and still is today. Oscar Hammerstein invested in this Harlem theater district. His Harlem Opera House opened in 1899 as a legitimate opera house, ultimately succumbing to vaudeville, movies and eventually the wrecking ball.

The Orient Theater (pictured at Lenox Avenue on the northwest corner) was in operation as early as 1915. It had a seating capacity of only 585. Usually, a theater with a seating capacity of that size was not built with a stage. Harlem developed in the late 19th century, as information about where the new subway was to be routed. A great deal of Harlem, especially west of the New York Central tracks, was beautiful structures. During the early 20th century you do not find many large size homes built on the same grand scale, though there are exceptions.

The movies played at the Orient is the “Exclusive Story,”, starring the MGM Groups very own Franchot Tone, Madge Evans, Joseph Calleia, about the Harlem numbers racket that was “muscle in” by big time gangsters released by MGM in their own Loew’s Theater on 17th of January, 1936. It could have been a second run independent house.

We have not been able to find anything on the “Coopers 107 Stout Shop” .


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