Executive producer

Iconic Manhattan Theater Prepares for 50th Anniversary

What to Know

  • A theater in Manhattan is preparing to celebrate a milestone
  • United Palace Theater is scheduled to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a spiritual arts center Sunday
  • The theater opened in 1930 and was nearly demolished in 1969, but was saved by the efforts of a local church

A theater in Manhattan is preparing to celebrate a milestone.

Stepping into the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights is like traveling back in time to the early 1930s and reliving the grandeur of the Golden Era of theater venues.

The United Palace Theater is Manhattan’s fourth largest, featuring 3,400 seats. On Sunday, on its 50th anniversary as a spiritual arts center, it will host a church service for the community, but not before showcasing the classic film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Executive Producer of The United Palace Theater Mike Fitelson said people who have never visited the locale before will walk in for the first time and look around in awe.

The theater’s location in the heart of Washington Heights brings a sense of belonging, nostalgia and pride to residents.

According to Washington Heights resident Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, a glimpse of the past can be seen in some of the architecture as you walk around 181st Street, however, the look and feel of an era gone by is still visible at United Palace Theater where the original organ is still on stage and the opulant decor is seen throughout the building.

“We work on maintaining this theater every day and we are very proud at how much it still retains the look, feel and character of when it opened in 1930,” Fitelson said.

The theater was nearly demolished in 1969, but was saved by the efforts of a local church.

In 2016, the building was designated as a landmark and the level of excitement for the weekend’s 50th anniversary has the Washington Heights community dancing on a high note.

“It’s really the connection of where we come from and a celebration of the past, but really a celebration of the future going forward,” CEO and Spiritual Director Heather Shea said.

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