REAL ESTATE: Exit Center Theatre

When the Rockefellers opened Rockefeller Center in mid-Manhattan in 1932, they assumed that the Center could support two big theaters: the 6,200-seat Radio City Music Hall and the 3,500-seat Center Theatre. The plan was for the Music Hall to have vaudeville while the Center, only a block away, would show movies. The plan fell through when vaudeville died, and the Music Hall also began showing films.

Unable to meet the competition of its bigger brother, the Center Theatre turned to stage extravaganzas (one was The Great Waltz) and an occasional opera or ballet, but did little better. It had a...

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