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Bowery Amphitheatre

Bowery Amphitheatre

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The Bowery Amphitheatre was a building in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. It was located at 37 and 39 Bowery, across the street from the Bowery Theatre
Bowery Theatre
The Bowery Theatre was a playhouse in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City. Although it was founded by rich families to compete with the upscale Park Theatre, the Bowery saw its most successful period under the populist, pro-American management of Thomas Hamblin in the 1830s and 1840s...

. Under a number of different names and managers, the structure served as a circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

, menagerie
Zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

, and theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

. It became an armory
Armory (military)
An armory or armoury is a place where arms and ammunition are made, maintained and repaired, stored, issued to authorized users, or any combination of those...

 in 1866.

Formation through the minstrel craze


A group of New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 businessmen known as the Zoological Institute or the Flatfoots built the structure in 1833 as the site for a menagerie
Zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

 and circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

 performances. In 1835, the site was converted into an amphitheatre
Amphitheatre
An amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment and performances.There are two similar, but distinct, types of structure for which the word "amphitheatre" is used: Ancient Roman amphitheatres were large central performance spaces surrounded by ascending seating, and were commonly used...

 with a stage and a circus ring, and the name changed to the Bowery Amphitheatre. June, Titus, Angevine & Co. took up residence with their equestrian show
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

.

The owners changed the name again in November 1842 to the Amphitheatre of the Republic. John Tryon leased the building the following year, remaining its operator until 1848. Following a performance by the Virginia Minstrels
Virginia Minstrels
The Virginia Minstrels or Virginia Serenaders was a group of 19th century American entertainers known for helping to invent the entertainment form known as the minstrel show...

 on 6 February 1843, Tryon gave the structure over largely to minstrel show
Minstrel show
The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface....

s, renaming it the New Knickerbocker Theatre in 1844.

Later management


In 1849, the building once again became a menagerie, this time under the management of June & Titus. The new endeavor failed to perform up to expectations, so in 1851 the amphitheatre became a circus instead. Seth B. Howe's circus company became a standard feature. During the 1852-1853 season, regular acts included the Richard Sands & Co. and John J. Nathans & Co. circuses. The next season saw a return to equestrian exhibitions under the management of Henry P. Madigan and Den W. Stone.

During the summer of 1854, Germans Seigrist and Otto Hoym leased the amphitheatre and rebuilt it. It opened on 20 October 1854 as the Stadt Theatre. The Stadt specialized in German-language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 fare, but it also staged American and English drama. A succession of managers sustained this mixture until the 1863-1864 season. A Stadt Theatre existed in The Bowery in 1871: its opera fell under the direction of Adolf Neuendorff
Adolf Neuendorff
Adolf Heinrich Anton Magnus Neuendorff, also known as Adolph Neuendorff was a German-American composer, violinist, pianist and conductor, stage director and theater manager.-Early years:...

, and was the venue in 1871 for the first U.S. performance of Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's opera Lohengrin
Lohengrin (opera)
Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself...

.

On 3 September 1864, the theatre became known as The Varieties, making variety show
Variety show
A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

s its main draw. This form lasted until mid-October 1865, when A. Montpelier became the manager and owner. He renamed the building Montpelier's Opera House, although he kept its emphasis on variety and melodrama
Melodrama
The term melodrama refers to a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. It may also refer to the genre which includes such works, or to language, behavior, or events which resemble them...

. Montpelier changed the name once more on 20 November 1865. The New National Circus stayed open for six weeks for its final stint as an entertainment venue. The structure was converted into an armory
Armory (military)
An armory or armoury is a place where arms and ammunition are made, maintained and repaired, stored, issued to authorized users, or any combination of those...

in 1866.