Apollo Theater

po_Appollo-TheaterThe Apollo Theater in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City is a music hall which is a noted venue for African-American performers. It was the home of Showtime at the Apollo, a nationally syndicated television variety show which showcased new talent, from 1987 to 2008, encompassing 1093 episodes.

The theater, which has a capacity of 1506, was built in 1913-14 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater, and was designed by George Keister in the neo-Classical style. George Keister, also designed the First Baptist Church in the City of New York. It was originally Hurtig and Seamon’s New (Burlesque) Theater, which enforced a strict “Whites Only” policy. The theatre was operated by noted burlesque producers Jules Hurtig and Harry Seamon, who obtained a 30-year lease. It remained in operation until 1928, when Billy Minsky took over. The song “I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful)” by Harry Sullivan and Harry Ruskin, written in 1929, became the theme song of the theater.

It became the Apollo in 1934, when it was opened to black patrons – previously it had been a whites-only venue. During the early 1930s the theatre fell into disrepair and closed once more. In 1933 it was purchased by Sidney Cohen, who owned other theaters in the area, and after lavish renovations it re-opened as the “Apollo Theater” on January 16, 1934,catering to the black community of Harlem.

In 1983 both the interior and exterior of the building were designated as New York City Landmarks, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is estimated that 1.3 million people visit the Apollo every year.