Last year, I wrote a post encouraging everyone to visit the Times Square Visitor Center, regardless of whether you were a tourist or not.
At the time, I had ducked in to use the free bathrooms, and was completely surprised to find chandeliers, marble accents and gold-framed posters in the entranceway…
…wood-paneled walls with gilded decorations further in…
…and beyond, what turned out to be the remnants of the historic Embassy movie theater, a French salon-styled 556-seat one-screener, opened in 1925 by Loew’s.
Intended for high society audiences, it was notable for being the only theater in the country managed by a woman, one Gloria Gould (granddaughter of railroad baron Jay Gould), who employed an all-female staff. Several years later, the theater adopted an all-newsreel format, the first of its kind. It later began showing foreign films, and, as Times Square began its decline, second run movies.
Hope you had a chance to visit – I recently received a note from a reader saying that the Visitor’s Center is now permanently closed. I was in Times Square last week and stopped by to see for myself…
Yup – the Embassy Theater has closed its doors for the forseeable future.
I put a call into the Times Square Alliance, who told me the former theater will be turned into a retail space, which is too bad, as I really liked it as a museum.
The good news is that the interior was landmarked in 1987, which means that the new tenants won’t be allowed to change any of this. In fact, I’m curious if they’ll even be required to keep the sloped floor, which might pose a bit of a problem for clothing racks.
The real question is whether the new tenants will embrace the beauty and heritage of the space…
Or consider it an afterthought, and obscure it all with advertising and shelving:
Very curious to see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.
PS – If you’re looking for a new Times Square bathroom, I always have luck with either the Hard Rock Cafe (walk through the gift shop, down the stairs, take a left at the Beatles Pan Am display, take another left down the first corridor, and the bathrooms will be in front of you) or the Marriott Marquis (this place is ridiculously huge; I recall finding bathrooms in the southwest corners on the first five or six floors).
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