311 W 34th St
New York, NY 10001
Hours: Music times vary
Subway: A,C,E,1,2,3 to 34th St (Penn Station)
Written by: Laura Sherman
The Hammerstein Ballroom holds an old world charm with a hand painted ceiling, elaborate wood work and three balcony areas. All tickets usually sell as general admission; with the ballroom’s enormous standing room floor it is advised to arrive early to get a good spot in the front.
The allure of the ballroom, however, is held in the opera-house quality acoustics, which make every seat in the house sound like the best. Artists including Kylie Minogue, 311, Foo Fighters, Hanson, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, The Strokes, Moby, Smashing Pumpkins, Incubus, Katy Perry, Tool, Brand New, Good Charlotte, Matisyahu and many more have graced the stage.
Although the Manhattan Center is best known for the Hammerstein Ballroom, it also boasts The Grand, one of New York’s best kept secrets. This 10,000 square foot space provides an amazing recording space for classical orchestras or intimate chamber ensembles.
Oscar Hammerstein built this extravagant venue in 1906, in an effort to bring opera to the people. Originally named Manhattan Opera House it quickly developed a reputation for its extraordinary acoustics, so much so that the Metropolitan Opera House offered $1.2 million for a ten-year moratorium on opera performances, which was happily accepted. The Shubert Brothers took over in 1911 and hosted vaudeville shows six nights a week, with concerts on Sunday nights.
Over the next few decades the venue went through several management changes. The Scottish Rite of Free Masonry purchased it in 1922 and Warner Bros leased the space from 1926, when history was made with the first ever musical soundtrack recording for commercial film. The vita phone sound-on-disc system captured the 107-piece New York Philharmonic orchestra performing for the film “Don Juan.”
A name change in 1940 to Manhattan Center encouraged such diverse events as big bands, trade shows, union meetings, as well as large private and corporate events; and to this day the venue is a favored locale for live music concerts, awards and fashion shows, product launches, and more. In addition, the Manhattan Center Studios were formed in 1986 to allow for multimedia events. In 1997 the entire venue underwent a major face-lift and updated its equipment to state of the art technology. It has since become a popular place to record live performances; KoRn, All Time Low, and Coheed and Cambria have all recorded live DVDs.