The American Airlines Theatre was originally designed by George Keister as an Italian Renaissance-style theatre. The venue opened in 1918 as the Selwyn Theatre, named for its developers, Edgar and Archibald Selwyn. The first show to play there was Jane Cowl's Information Please.
Over the course of its history, the building has been used as a theatre, a cinema, and a visitor center until it fell into a derelict state of disrepair. Roundabout Theatre Company took ownership of the venue in 1997, but the building collapsed, so the company rebuilt the Selwyn as part of the New 42nd Street Building in 1999. The theatre was renamed for American Airlines on June 30, 2000; the company donated $8.5 million to help cover renovation costs.
The American Airlines Theatre is situated on 42nd Street between Eighth Avenue and Broadway. By subway, it is accessible by the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, W, and S lines to 42nd Street.