Thursday, October 22, 2020

Ziegfeld Theater by Joseph Urban

One building I think should have been preserved, but wasn't, was New York City's Ziegfeld Theater (1927-1966).  Its Wikipedia entry is here.   It mentions that the architects were the great Joseph Urban (1872-1933), who I wrote about here, and Thomas W. Lamb (1871-1972), who specialized in cinemas and theaters.

The style of the building is hard for me to pin down.  It was designed around the time the famous Paris Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes of 1925 was so recent that its "Art Deco" impact had yet to be strongly felt in America.  On the other hand Urban, Austrian born, was highly aware of European design trends and seems to have incorporated some of the non-geometric Parisian Deco along with his own post- Art Nouveau design sympathies.

The resulting building and its interior décor was rather busy looking, certainly by orthodox Modernist standards of European architects of the time.  For us, had it survived, the Ziegfeld Theatre would be a fascinating document of mid-1920s design by leaders in their fields.


My June, 1965 photo of the Ziegfeld Theatre, about a year before it vanished.

A dramatic architectural rendering.

Detail of the original drawing.

The Ziegfeld as it appeared in 1931.

Diagrams of the interior layout.


Balcony and some wall decoration.


Photo of a model of the proscenium.

1 comment:

BryanG said...

I see the photo of the model of the proscenium, but aren't there any photos of the interior of the house facing the stage?

In "Till the Clouds Roll By", the opening scene shows "Show Boat" as it was produced in 1927, in a 1946 movie.

Was that at all accurate? Was there not any documentation beyond what is currently shown in your page here and other places?

What a pity to have lost that gem of a theatre to a box of a skyscraper.