Webster Hall, located in Manhattan’s East Village, is today known, more or less, as a concert venue for young New Yorkers. But this concert hall has been around for over 100 years with its reputation changing with New York City history. Built in 1886 by Polish cigar maker Charles Goldstein, it operated first as a “hall for hire” to be rented out for various events, soirees, personal occasions. Since then, the venue has changed hands multiple times, gone through a few fires, and changed as often as New York City did socially and musically. For over 100 years, this venue has been hosting events for the people who would shape our city’s history. Here are the top 10 secrets of Webster Hall.
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From 1953 to 1968, RCA Records owned Webster Hall, completely refashioning it with state-of-the-art technology to make it their East Coast recording studio. “Hound Dog” was recorded and cut all in one hot afternoon in July of 1956. Despite the sweltering heat, Elvis did 31 takes of the song until he got the sound he wanted. The single was released to shops only eleven days later. At Webster Hall, RCA studios would go on to record albums of many famous musicians, such as Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong. It also recorded many broadway songs from Carol Channing’s original Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof, and Ethel Merman’s Annie Get Your Gun.
Studio recording of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” in 1961. Image via Keith York City