A relic of a 1920s theater on East 80th Street

The remains of some of New York’s loveliest buildings can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places.


Take this carved stone head of a goddess. For decades, it’s sat outside the parlor floor window (between the garbage cans and coal hole cover) of the 1883 brownstone at 52 East 80th Street.

Ziegfeld19272The goddess head’s original home? The facade of the Ziegfeld Theater, an Art Deco gem that stood on Sixth Avenue and 54th Street for 39 years.

The theater, financed by William Randolph Hearst, opened to great fanfare; Florenz Ziegfeld’s renowned Follies were staged there.

But within six short years, it became a second-run movie house. By 1966, it met the wrecking ball.

Yet the goddess head survived the demolition—and it ended up on East 80th Street (below, with the copper bay window) because the owner of the home, a theater producer named Jerry Hammer, asked the right person for it.

Ziegfeldhousegoogle“Mr. Hammer said that in the 1960s he was riding in a limousine with the developer Zachary Fisher, who motioned to the old Ziegfeld Theater, at 54th Street and the Avenue of the Americas, and said he was going to demolish it for a new office building,” stated the New York Times in 2004.

Hammer asked Fisher jokingly if he could have it. About four months later,  ”’I hear noises outside, and it’s a truck with a crane, and a head, and they ask me where I want it,'” wrote the Times.

Hammer moved out, but the goddess head remains, a glorious relic of Roaring ’20s New York City.

[Second photo: Cinema Treasures; third photo: Google]

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4 Responses to “A relic of a 1920s theater on East 80th Street”

  1. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    This is a very famous ‘fragment’ – used (like the oft reproduced photo of a large mound of broken carved-stone ornaments from Penn. Station) to denounce the destruction of treasured structures. This building was designed by Joseph Urban. I have never been able to figure out WHERE this ornamentation was in the facade! There is a long row of carvings that resemble curling ribbons across the building’s face — but where was THIS face?

  2. Spence Halperin Says:

    Designed by the famous Viennese designer Joseph Urban — who also create some of the sets for the Follies as well as for Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Pictures. See HEARST OVER HOLLYWOOD by Louis Pizzitola.

  3. wack60585 Says:

    Reblogged this on wack60585.

  4. ReadingOtherPeople Says:

    Reblogged this on Reading Other People.

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