10. RKO 81st Street Theater
The former RKO 81st Street Theater opened in 1913 as a vaudeville theater. The 2,015 seat theater was also designed by Thomas Lamb and was purchased by RKO in 1919. In 1954, CBS purchased the theater and converted it into their first major color television studio in New York. As CBS Studio 72, the theater saw the live color broadcast of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella in 1957. The lobby’s interior was gutted and the theater was demolished in 1986 to make way for an apartment building and retail space, now occupied by Staples and Starbucks. Next time you walk by, pay attention to the theater themed details.
This article was adapted from a prior post entitled 10 Forgotten Movie Theaters on Upper Broadway in NYC, which contains more photographs of these theaters and more detailed information about them.