The story of New York City’s ballrooms form one facet of the city-wide story of a changing entertainment industry and real estate market. Many of the iconic music venues survived Prohibition, only to be taken down by the advent of radio and television. The large spaces necessitated diversification of events and venues, causing their musical cache to fall as real estate pressures were rising. This list of New York City’s ballrooms include those lost, those still standing and those converted, as well as new ballrooms adapted from other types of spaces. Not all were music venues, but all have a unique story to tell as part of the city’s history. Here are 12 historic ballrooms:
12. Roseland Ballroom
Roseland Ballroom. Photo by Doug Van Sant for MadeEvent.com
Roseland Ballroom, which saw the likes of Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, also hosted female prize fighting, weddings, yo yo and sneezing competitions and more. The original location on 51st Street opened in 1917, financed by Frank Yuengling of the D. G. Yuengling & Son beer family. A beer company getting involved on the distribution side was not uncommon practice at the time–in 1903 Pabst Blue Ribbon opened the Pabst Grand Circle Hotel at what is now Columbus Circle, which included a hotel and restaurant as well. Roseland moved to its second location on 52nd Street in 1956, with its recognizable street art style facade–when its original spot was demolished.
Nirvana, Madonna, Beyonce and Metallica also performed in the second location. Lady Gaga was the last performer in residence at Roseland Ballroom and the venue closed on April 7, 2014. The venue had a slow demolition, starting in August 2014 and continuing into 2015. Its future is fairly certain however: a high rise condo is going up in its place.