The Empire Theatre has stood where it was built on West 42nd Street in New York since 1912, but on March 1 that's going to change.
The New York Times reported that the 7.4 million lb. legitimate theatre, originally named the Eltinge after female impersonator Julian Eltinge, will be hauled 170 west toward Eighth Avenue as part of the 42nd Street revitalization project that has seen the restoration of the New Victory and New Amsterdam theatres, and the construction of the new Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the same block where porno shops ruled for two generations.
According to Nicholas Van Hoogstraten's book "Lost Broadway Theatres, the Eltinge opened with Within the Law, and continued with Somerset Maugham's East of Suez, Laurence Olivier in Murder on the Second Floor and Clark Gable in Love, Honor and Betray, among many others. From 1931 to 1941 the Eltinge hosted burlesque, achieving a moment of immortality when the team of Abbott and Costello reportedly me there. Nevertheless, the theatre became a cinema in 1941, was renamed the Empire in 1954, and continued to screen a variety of movies until it went dark in the 1980s.
The landmarked building will be hauled slowly on steel rails for five or six hours, starting at 7:30 AM, during which time 42nd Street will be closed.
The theatre is being moved to make way for a huge 25-screen movie complex, but, alas, will not be saved as a legitimate theatre like others on the street. The Eltinge's landmarked exterior will be preserved, but the interior will be used as a fancy lobby for the cineplex, the Times reported. -- By Robert Viagas