The Apollo Theatre opened on December 15, 1913, as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. The 1,853 seat theater is located in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. It was designed by architect George Keister, also known for the American Airlines Theatre in Times Square.
It showed burlesque in its early years, but with the decline of burlesque in the late 1920s and 1930s (partially due to Fiorello LaGuardia’s campaign against it), the theater switched to variety revues. The theater was purchased in 1933 by Sidney Cohen and renamed the Apollo. Cohen began to market the shows to Harlem’s growing black community. Amateur Night at the Apollo, probably the thing the Apollo is most famous for, initially debuted in 1934. Amateur night gave unknown talent a venue for performances and eventually helped launch Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Lauryn Hill.
Like many other theaters of this type, the Apollo closed and reopened several times in the late 1970s. Luckily, it was saved when it was purchased by Percy Sutton and a group of investors in 1981. Sutton added a recording and television studio to the theater. The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. was established in 1991 to fund and oversee programming for the theater.
Matt Lambros NY New York Nov 24, 2021 Architecture