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10 Theater District Landmarks You Don’t Want to Miss

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


Try the cheesecake at Junior’s – you’ll thank us later

Are you planning on taking a trip to Broadway to see one of its amazing plays or musicals? If so, this will find you in the heart of Manhattan’s Theater District. Before or after your show, there is plenty to see, from historic landmarks to iconic dining establishments. Make the most of your trip by following this checklist to ensure that you hit all of the landmarks that you won’t want to miss.

The theater district is brimming with NYC must-sees (Photo: iStock)

The theater district is brimming with NYC must-sees (Photo: iStock)

The Majestic Theatre 
There are many amazing theaters in NYC, renowned for their architecture, historical significance and for the shows ensconced inside of them. We are singling out the Majestic Theatre for all these attributes, as well as one additional reason. The Majestic Theatre is the home of Broadway’s all-time longest-running play or musical, The Phantom of the Operawhich has resided there since 1988. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and has been enchanting theatergoers with its spectacular depiction of the Gaston Leroux novel ever since. The Majestic Theatre can be found at 245 West 44th Street. 

42nd Street 
As the Harry Warren/Al Dubin song states “Come and meet those dancing feet on the avenue I’m taking you to, 42nd Street.” This historic boulevard was once the site of many theaters overflowing with beautiful women and handsome men dancing and singing in the Broadway tradition. Even today, 42nd Street is lined with venues such as the New Amsterdam (home of The Lion King), The New Victory and the American Airlines theaters. It is, however, its history and legacy as a symbol of the performer’s dream that makes 42nd Street one of the Theater District’s most iconic locations.

The Statue of George M. Cohan 
In New York City’s Duffy Square (adjacent to Times Square) stands a bronze statue of one George M. Cohan. Though many might not know him by name in this day and age, they will certainly recognize much of his music. Cohan was an early mover and shaker of the Broadway musical, as a composer-lyricist, director, actor and producer. The shows he wrote are seldom produced today, but his songs live on in the hearts of musical theater fans. Ever hear of little ditties such as “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Give My Regards to Broadway”? George M. Cohan wrote them. His statue was designed by artist Georg John Lober.

Lincoln Center 
A complex that is home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Opera, the New York City Ballet, Broadway’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre and Off-Broadway’s Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, Lincoln Center is a nonpareil home for the performing arts, particularly due to its majestic architecture. The stunning conglomeration of concert halls, dance stages and theaters evolved as part of the city’s Lincoln Square Renewal Project in the 1950s. The complex’s inauguration came in the early 1960s. Interesting piece of trivia: Lincoln Center was carved out of the neighborhood that had been used as the location for the 1961 film West Side Story

Sardi’s
The go-to place for pre-and-post-theater dinners is one of Broadway’s most enduring traditions. From its signature caricatures of Broadway legends decking the walls, to the actual legends who frequent the establishment, Sardi’s is a Theatre District institution. Found at 234 W. 44th Street, its current location opened in 1927, and has been going strong ever since. Sardi’s is often the venue of choice for opening night parties for Broadway plays and musicals, with Broadway glitterati often in attendance. It also has a pretty great menu!

Shubert Alley 
If you stumble upon a walkway in the Theater District, decorated with the show cards of all the plays and musicals currently running on Broadway, then you may just be Shubert Alley. The 300 foot long pedestrian walkway connects 44th and 45th Streets, between the Shubert Theatre and the Booth Theatre. The site is particularly well-known for the events held there including Stars in the Alley, Broadway Barks and the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Annual Flea Market and Auction. 

The TKTS Booth 
The Theater Development Fund’s TKTS Booth at the north end of Times Square, as well as the bleachers that rise above its structure, are easily visible for their red and white logo. The booth itself is known for its sale of last-minute tickets for many Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and musicals. The bleachers are a great place to rest in Times Square, and to drink in the light show that makes this destination twinkle and shine. 

The Lyceum Theatre
Broadway has many theaters that have been around for a long time, providing the homes for the best in plays and musicals. The oldest continuously operating Broadway theater is the Lyceum, found at 149 W. 49th Street. Soon to be home to a new production of A Christmas Carol, the Lyceum was built in 1903 (along with the Hudson and New Amsterdam theaters). Among the great names of the early Broadway Theatre that played there: Fanny Brice, Ethel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Walter Huston and Billie Burke (the wife of Florenz Ziegfeld).

Junior’s
As iconic as any Broadway landmark, a trip to Juniors for a piece of their mouthwatering cheesecake is a big part of any NYC theatergoing trip. Located at 1515 Broadway, the company was founded in 1950 and has become one of the nation’s magnets for cheesecake lovers the world over, and certainly a favorite haunt for theatergoers. They have plenty of other food options as well, but it is the variety of cheesecakes that has people returning, again and again, for a little slice of heaven. 

Times Square 
Times Square itself is the boldest and brightest of the Theatre District landmarks that you will want to visit. Much of the area has been sectioned off and turned into a pedestrian-only area, so you can walk freely to explore its shopping, myriad dining options and see the bright lights for which it is known. At nighttime, the colorful marquees, blinking lights and moving advertisements provide a 3-D kaleidoscope that is not to be missed. It is, of course, also the site of the yearly Dec. 31 celebration where a twinkling ball is dropped, ringing in the New Year.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His forthcoming book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, will hit the shelves in October, 2019. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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