Architect Harry P. Knowles designed New York City Center, which was built by Clinton and Russell in 1923 for the Shriners under the name of The Mecca Temple. Amid the financial crash of 1929, the building became city property after the Shriners were unable to keep up with tax payments.
Former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and New York City Council President Newbold Morris decided to convert the temple into Manhattan’s first performing arts center. The building opened as a theatre in December 1943.
New York City Center is known for its annual Encores! productions since 1994, which restage seldom revived American musicals in concert or semi-staged incarnations. The venue received a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre in 2000.
Since its launch, New York City Center has become one of the city’s prime venues for dance.
In addition to the 2,557-seat mainstage, the facility houses two smaller theatres — Stage I and Stage II, where Manhattan Theatre Club has hosted its Off-Broadway productions since 1984 — and four studios.
New York City Center is closest to the 57th Street station on the N, Q, R, and W lines and the 7th Avenue station on the E, B, and D lines. The nearest bus stops are 6 Av./W 55 St. on the Q2, Q3, Q4, and Q20 lines; and 6 Av./56 St. on the Q10, Q12, and Q24 lines.
Popular restaurants near New York City Center include Redeye Grill (American), Pazza Notte (Italian), Estiatorio Milos (Greek), Rue 57 (French), and Benihana (Japanese).