“long live the music”
The neo-classical theater known today as the Apollo Theater was designed by George Keister and first owned by Sidney Cohen. In 1914, Benjamin Hurtig and Harry Seamon obtained a thirty-year lease on the newly constructed theater calling it Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. Like many American theaters during this time, African-Americans were not allowed to attend as patrons or to perform. In 1933 Fiorello La Guardia, who would later become New York City’s Mayor, began a campaign against burlesque. Hurtig & Seamon’s was one of many theaters that would close down. Cohen reopened the building as the 125th Street Apollo Theatre in 1934 with his partner, Morris Sussman serving as manager. Cohen and Sussman changed the format of the shows from burlesque to variety revues and redirected their marketing attention to the growing African-American community in Harlem.
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