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Hammerstein Ballroom
311 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 279-7740

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Manhattan Center Studios Hammerstein

The Hammerstein Ballroom is a two-tiered, 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) ballroom located within the Manhattan Center Studios at 311 West 34th Street in Manhattan in New York City. It is known for its elegant appearance and excellent acoustic design[citation needed]. The capacity of the ballroom is dependent on the configuration of the room; it seats 2,500 people for theatrical productions and musical performances, and several thousand for events held within a central ring. The two main balconies—which are unusually close to the ground and gently sloped—seat a total of 1,200. There are six shallow balconies which are normally used for celebrity guests. The floor slants down to the stage area to enable those in the back rows to see easily.

The Manhattan Center was constructed in 1906 by Oscar Hammerstein as the Manhattan Opera House, an alternative to the popular yet comparatively expensive Metropolitan Opera.[1] In 1910, the Metropolitan Opera paid Hammerstein $1.2 million to stop operating the Manhattan Opera House as an opera venue for ten years. This led to the elaborately decorated theater being used for a variety of events, including vaudeville performances.[1]

The ownership of the center changed hands multiple times over the next few decades, with the theater being converted into a large ballroom and being used as a Freemason’s temple in the 1930s and a trade union headquarters in the 1940s before falling into disuse in the 1970s, before being bought by Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, the ballroom’s current owner. The building was renamed Manhattan Center Studios in 1986, and in 1997 the former theater was renamed the Hammerstein Ballroom and underwent extensive renovation, with the hand painted ceiling being completely restored.[1]