overview

New York City has long been considered the leading American center for arts and culture. The arts, especially theater, constitute one of New York’s primary economic forces.

Throughout the 20th century, the LGBT community has had a significant and disproportionate impact on the Broadway stage, even as the New York Legislature-enacted Wales Padlock Law (1927-1967) made it illegal for theaters to show plays that featured gay and lesbian characters (though some productions managed to get around this restriction).

This curated collection spotlights the Broadway Theater District and its associations with major LGBT performers and creators.

Header Photo
Poster for A Chorus Line, the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that had its Broadway premiere at the Shubert Theater in 1975.

Featured Historic Sites ( 43 )

A
302-314 West 45th Street

Opened as the Martin Beck Theater in 1924, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including three big hits: The Voice of the Turtle, Grand Hotel, and Guys... Learn More

B
215-223 West 49th Street

Opened in 1921, the Ambassador Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Mulatto by Langston Hughes and Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, for which George... Learn More

C
236 West 42nd Street

Opened as the Eltinge Theater in 1912, this venue was named for Broadway and vaudeville star Julian Eltinge, often considered one of the greatest female impersonators in history. While Eltinge... Learn More

D
227 West 42nd Street

Opened as the Selwyn Theater in 1918, this venue staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including, among others, W. Somerset Maugham, Beatrice Lillie, Noel Coward, and Cole... Learn More

E
223 West 42nd Street

Opened as the Apollo Theater in 1920, this venue is significant as the site of the first lesbian love scene depicted on Broadway with the staging of the Yiddish play The... Learn More

F
243-259 West 52nd Street

Opened in 1925 as the Guild Theater and renamed the ANTA Playhouse in 1950 and the Virginia Theater in 1981, this venue staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and... Learn More

G
111 West 44th Street

Opened in 1907 as the Stuyvesant Theater and renamed the Belasco Theater in 1910, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Katharine Cornell, Guthrie... Learn More

H
242-250 West 45th Street

During this venue’s time as the Royale Theater (opened in 1927), the John Golden Theater (renamed in 1934), and then again as the Royale Theater (renamed in 1936), major LGBT... Learn More

I
235 West 46th Street

From 1938 to 1951, entertainment impresario Billy Rose operated one of New York City’s most opulent and successful nightclubs, the Diamond Horseshoe, in the basement of the Paramount Hotel in... Learn More

J
222-232 West 45th Street

Opened in 1913, the Booth Theater has been associated with major LGBT performers and creators that include Jill Esmond, Noel Coward, Thornton Wilder, Elisabeth Marbury, Tennessee Williams, Montgomery Clift, Oliver... Learn More

K
235-243 West 44th Street

Opened in 1918, the Broadhurst Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including the play The Green Hat (1925-26), staged by Guthrie McClintic, starring Katharine Cornell, and featuring... Learn More

L
1681 Broadway

Opened in 1924 as a motion picture/vaudeville house, the Broadway Theater began presenting legitimate theater in 1930. Major LGBT performers and creators associated with this venue include Raoul Pene Du... Learn More

M
256-262 West 47th Street

Opened as the Mansfield Theater in 1926 and renamed the Brooks Atkinson Theater in 1960, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Marc Blitzstein,... Learn More

N
138-146 West 48th Street

Opened as the Cort Theater in 1912, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Laurette Taylor, Ma Rainey, Clyde Fitch, Thornton Wilder, George Cukor,... Learn More

O
1697-1699 Broadway

Opened as Hammerstein’s Theater in 1927, this venue’s first production, Golden Dawn (1927-28), featured a young Archie Leach, who would later change his name to Cary Grant. As a television studio, it... Learn More

P
243-251 West 47th Street

Opened in 1928, the Ethel Barrymore Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Noel Coward, Katharine Cornell, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Montgomery Clift, John Van... Learn More

Q
230-238 West 49th Street

Opened as the Forrest Theater in 1926 and renamed the Coronet Theater in 1945 and the Eugene O’Neill Theater in 1959, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT... Learn More

R
234-240 West 45th Street

Opened as the Plymouth Theater in 1918, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Oliver Smith, Roberta Maxwell, Claudette Colbert, Lanford Wilson, Cynthia Nixon,... Learn More

S
238-244 West 44th Street

Opened as the Little Theater in 1912, this venue, the smallest house on Broadway, has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT creators and performers, including Clyde Fitch, Rachel Crothers, George... Learn More

T
139-141 West 44th Street

Opened in 1904, the Hudson Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT creators and performers, including W. Somerset Maugham, Oscar Wilde, Oliver Smith, Laurence Olivier, Barbara Stanwyck, and Eva... Learn More

U
249 West 45th Street

Opened in 1923, the Imperial Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Jerome Robbins, Joel Grey, Tom Eyen, Irene Sharaff, Michael Bennett, Mary Martin, Cole... Learn More

V
252-256 West 45th Street

Opened as the Theatre Masque in 1927 and renamed the John Golden Theater in 1937, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT creators and performers, including George Cukor,... Learn More

W
220-228 West 48th Street

Opened in 1913, the Longacre Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Edith Head, Cyril Ritchard, Lorraine Hansberry, John Lee Beatty, Lanford Wilson, and Vincent... Learn More

X
203-217 West 46th Street

Opened in 1910 as the Globe Theater, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Barbara Stanwyck, Lorenz Hart, Oliver Smith, Mary Martin, Robert Mackintosh,... Learn More

Y
149-157 West 45th Street

Opened in 1903, the Lyceum Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Oliver Smith, Clyde Fitch, Katharine Cornell, Billy Barnes, Eva Le Gallienne, Thornton Wilder,... Learn More

Z
213 West 42nd Street / 214 West 43rd Street

Opened in 1903, the Lyric Theater staged several productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Clyde Fitch, Cole Porter, and Sarah Bernhardt, among others, before becoming a movie theater... Learn More


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245-257 West 44th Street

Opened in 1927, the Majestic Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Mary Martin, Adrian, Irene Sharaff, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, Cyril Ritchard, Florence Klotz,... Learn More


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217-239 West 51st Street

Opened as a movie palace called the Hollywood Theater in 1929 (converted to legitimate theater in 1934) and renamed the 51st Street Theater in 1940 and the Mark Hellinger Theater... Learn More


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239-247 West 45th Street

Opened in 1920, the Music Box Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Ethel Waters, Irene Sharaff, Tom Hulce, Cole Porter, Tallulah Bankhead, Tennessee Williams,... Learn More


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208 West 41st Street

Opened as the National Theater in 1921 and renamed the Billy Rose Theater in 1959 and the Nederlander Theater in 1980, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT... Learn More


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244-254 West 52nd Street

Opened as the Alvin Theater in 1927 and renamed the Neil Simon Theater in 1983, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Cole Porter,... Learn More


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214 West 42nd Street

Opened in 1903, the New Amsterdam Theater has staged several productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Clyde Fitch, Erte, Patsy Kelly, the vaudeville team of Bert Savoy &... Learn More


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209 West 42nd Street

Opened as the Theatre Republic in 1900, this venue staged two known works by gay playwrights, one by Clyde Fitch and the other by Roi Cooper Megrue. After being converted... Learn More


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1564-1566 Broadway

Opened in 1913 for vaudeville, and reopened as a legitimate theater in 1966, the Palace Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel... Learn More


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226-236 West 46th Street

Opened as the Chanin’s 46th Street Theater in 1924 and renamed the 46th Street Theater in 1932 and the Richard Rodgers Theater in 1990, this venue has staged multiple productions... Learn More


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261-265 West 47th Street

Opened as the Biltmore Theater in 1926 and renamed the Samuel J. Friedman Theater in 2008, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Paul... Learn More


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221-233 West 44th Street

Opened in 1913, the Shubert Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Cole Porter, Michael Bennett, Fred Ebb, Joel Grey, Katharine Hepburn, Irene Sharaff, Jerome... Learn More


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246-256 West 44th Street

Opened as the Erlanger Theater in 1927 and renamed the St. James Theater in 1932, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Jerome Robbins,... Learn More


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124-130 West 43rd Street

Opened in 1918 as Henry Miller’s Theater, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and characters, including Noel Coward’s The Vortex (1925-26), in which he played a closeted gay... Learn More


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254 West 54th Street

In 1977, Studio 54 opened and became one of the world’s most famous discos with a fusion of gay, bisexual, and straight patrons. Owners Steven Rubell and Ian Schrager modeled... Learn More


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219 West 42nd Street

Opened in 1920, the Times Square Theater staged a number of productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Katharine Cornell, Tallulah Bankhead, Laurence Olivier, and Noel Coward, among others.... Learn More


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219 West 48th Street

Opened as the Ritz Theater in 1921 and renamed the Walter Kerr Theater in 1989, this venue has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including, among others,... Learn More


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1634 Broadway

Opened in 1911, the Winter Garden Theater has staged multiple productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Vincente Minnelli, Erte, Beatrice Lillie, Irene Sharaff, Raoul Pene du Bois, Leonard... Learn More

Other Curated Themes

7 Sites

Transgender History

25 Sites

Gay-Owned Businesses

17 Sites

Communities of Color

24 Sites

Activism Outside Manhattan

18 Sites

Literary New York

13 Sites

Downtown Arts Scene

21 Sites

City of Immigrants

17 Sites

1970s Lesbian Activism & Community

7 Sites

The Bronx

8 Sites

Brooklyn Heights

7 Sites

Jackson Heights

12 Sites

Staten Island

10 Sites

Why We March

15 Sites

Village Pride Tour

20 Sites

Gay Activists Alliance

13 Sites

The Harlem Renaissance

12 Sites

Jewish New York

18 Sites

Pre-20th Century History

23 Sites

Bars & Nightlife

13 Sites

Activism Before Stonewall

22 Sites

Homophobia & Transphobia

11 Sites

Influential Black New Yorkers

13 Sites

Early Community Centers

13 Sites

Lesbian Life Before Stonewall

11 Sites

The AIDS Crisis

25 Sites

LGBT-Named Public Schools

15 Sites

Art & Architecture

10 Sites

National Register Listings

21 Sites

Spotlight on the Theater