In 1927, Engelbert Brenner (legendary English horn player from the New York Philharmonic) was a member of the Roxy Theater Symphony in New York. The photo is of a 23 year old Brenner on the roof of the Roxy at the theater’s grand opening.
Often cited as the most impressive movie palace ever built, the Roxy was called “The Cathedral of the Motion Picture” by its creator and namesake, Samuel ‘Roxy’ Rothafel. Roxy was arguably the greatest showmen of his time and he built a theater that has seemingly outlasted his own legend.
With its 5,920 seats and multi-tiered balconies, the Roxy was the showplace of New York City and of the nation. Erected in 1927 and designed by architect W.W. Ahlschlager of Chicago (who also designed New York’s Beacon Theatre), its rather modest entrance at the Taft Hotel disguised one of the most cavernous lobbies ever built and a magnificent auditorium that has lived on in its patrons’ imagination. Whatever adjectives can be used for the Roxy, they all fail to signify the theater’s achievement.
Sadly, the decline in attendance that had begun in the 1950’s spilled over into the early 60’s and the Roxy, despite numerous protests, was razed in 1961. In its place sits a non-descript and unremarkable office building. The neighboring Taft Hotel survives to this day and is the only evidence that this epic structure was ever here. A TGI Friday’s occupies its original entrance.