New Amsterdam Theatre Inaugurated

04021997_WDA_TDIDTheatre.jpg Apr 02, 1997

In 1903, New York’s New Amsterdam Theatre opened with its first production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The New York Times deemed it “A Gorgeous Theatre and a Dazzling Shakespearean Production.” After years of successful Broadway productions and playing home to the Ziegfeld Follies, the theatre on West 42nd street fell upon hard times. In 1997, New York Governor George Pataki noted that just a few years earlier, the street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue was a block he “wouldn’t walk down in the middle of the day because of fear of the drug dealers, vagrants, the crime and the fact that there was nothing positive about what really is a major symbol of New York City.” In 1995, Disney signed a theatre lease with the intent to renovate the theatre, with the help of a long-term, low interest loan of $28 million from the state and city and adding $8 million of its own. On this day in 1997, at the official inauguration of the historic landmark, Governor Pataki said, “What we are celebrating today has got to be the most startling turnaround of any urban area in America in this century.” The future years have been good to the old theatre, and with productions such as The Lion King and Mary Poppins, the New Amsterdam Theatre is still flying high.