Apollo Theater | Historic & Legendary Music Venue in Harlem, NYC

by Denise Marie

Having enough seats for just more than 1,500 spectators, the Apollo Theater is a historic music venue that’s tied to the Harlem Renaissance. Located in Manhattan, this iconic theater has hosted some of the most successful artists in Jazz, R&B and other genres.

History and Highlights

The Apollo Theater evolved from a performance venue that was known by a different name in the early 20th century. Specializing in burlesque, Hurtig and Seamon’s New was one of the premier theaters of its kind in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, the end of the Roaring Twenties era also marked the rapid decline of this intimate facility in Manhattan.

The Great Depression exacerbated the condition and fate of Hurtig and Seamon’s New. The mayor of New York City ultimately shut down this venue and several other burlesque hubs. Shortly after, the legendary venue reopened with a new mission and vibe.

At the height of the Great Depression, Harlem already had a thriving African American cultural scene. The renovated theater naturally sparked a revival in Jazz and other musical genres that essentially originated from the tight-knit neighborhood. Leo Brecher and Frank Schiffman managed the venue from the middle of the 1930’s until the end of the 1970’s.

A brief closure marked a new era of the Apollo Theater in the 1980’s. Since then, the facility has been a major multimedia hub for various entertainment sectors with a focus on the local African American community. Amateur Night is perhaps the most famous aspect of the Apollo Theater.

Dating back to the club’s early days, this event has allowed countless performers the opportunities to become famous. Some legendary singers who have won the Amateur Night contest include Ella Fitzgerald, Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick. Today, the iconic music hall still offers amateur singers the chance to impress an audience on the stage.

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Visiting the Apollo Theater

Centrally located in Harlem, the Apollo Theater is easily accessible by the NYC subway. You can take four different lines to the 125th Street station, which is located underneath the busy St. Nicholas Avenue. The subway trains that serve this underground station make multiple stops in Midtown Manhattan. Alternatively, you could ride the subway to the 125th Street Station that’s situated below Malcolm X Boulevard.

Additionally, several MTA buses stop just around the corner of this historic theater. For example, the M2 route runs along Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The M10 route makes frequent stops on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Taxis and other vehicles should quickly drop off passengers near the venue’s main entrance on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which merges with W. 125th Street.

Click to visit the Apollo Theater official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

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