The Rich History of Theatres in Brooklyn, NY

Discover the oldest and most iconic theatres in Brooklyn, NY and learn about their rich history and revival. From BAM to Kings Theatre, explore the vibrant theatre scene in this borough.

The Rich History of Theatres in Brooklyn, NY

As an expert in the field of theatre, I have always been fascinated by the vibrant arts and culture scene in Brooklyn, New York. One of the most prominent aspects of this scene is its theatres, which offer a diverse range of performances to cater to all kinds of audiences. But have you ever wondered which is the oldest theatre in Brooklyn, NY?

The Beginnings of Theatre in Brooklyn

The history of theatres in Brooklyn dates back to the 19th century when the borough was still an independent city. The first theatre in Brooklyn was built in 1808 and was called the Washington Theatre.

Located on Washington Street, this theatre had a capacity of 1,500 seats and was a popular venue for plays, operas, and concerts. However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that Brooklyn's theatre scene really took off. The opening of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in 1861 marked a significant milestone in the development of theatres in Brooklyn. Originally built as a multi-purpose venue for concerts, lectures, and theatrical performances, BAM quickly became a hub for cultural events and attracted some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

The Oldest Theatre in Brooklyn

While BAM is undoubtedly one of the most iconic theatres in Brooklyn, it is not the oldest. The honor of being the oldest theatre in Brooklyn goes to the Kings Theatre, which opened its doors in 1929. Designed by Rapp and Rapp, a renowned architectural firm that also designed several other theatres across the country, this theatre is located on Flatbush Avenue. The Kings Theatre was built during the golden age of movie palaces and was one of the largest and most opulent theatres of its time.

With a seating capacity of 3,676, it featured lavish interiors with ornate chandeliers, marble columns, and a grand staircase. The theatre also had state-of-the-art technology, including a Wurlitzer organ and a projection system that could show both silent and talking pictures. For several decades, the Kings Theatre was a popular destination for moviegoers in Brooklyn. However, with the rise of television and the decline of movie palaces in the 1950s, the theatre fell into disrepair. It was eventually closed in 1977 and remained abandoned for over three decades.

The Revival of the Kings Theatre

In 2010, a group of developers purchased the Kings Theatre with a vision to restore it to its former glory.

After an extensive renovation process that lasted over two years and cost $95 million, the Kings Theatre reopened in 2015. Today, it serves as a performing arts venue and has hosted some of the biggest names in music, comedy, and theatre. The restoration of the Kings Theatre was a labor of love, with every effort made to preserve its original features while also modernizing it for contemporary performances. With a capacity of 3,000 seats and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, this theatre is now one of the most stunning venues in Brooklyn.

Other Historic Theatres in Brooklyn

While the Kings Theatre may be the oldest, there are several other historic theatres in Brooklyn that are worth mentioning. The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), which we mentioned earlier, has been hosting performances for over 150 years and has played a significant role in shaping Brooklyn's cultural landscape. Another notable theatre is the Brooklyn Lyceum, which was built in 1908 and was originally a public bathhouse. It was later converted into a theatre and has since hosted a variety of performances, including plays, concerts, and even circus acts. The St.

George Theatre, located in the St. George neighborhood of Brooklyn, is another historic venue that has been around since 1929. Designed by the same architects as the Kings Theatre, it boasts a similar grandeur and is known for its stunning interiors. Over the years, it has hosted performances by renowned artists such as Tony Bennett and Jerry Seinfeld.


Brooklyn's theatre scene is rich in history and has played a significant role in shaping the borough's cultural identity. While there are several historic theatres in Brooklyn, the Kings Theatre stands out as the oldest and most iconic.

Its revival is a testament to the enduring appeal of live performances and the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. So, the next time you attend a show at the Kings Theatre, take a moment to appreciate its rich history and the journey it has taken to become one of the most beloved theatres in Brooklyn, NY.

Emanuel Cartier
Emanuel Cartier

Proud tv lover. Proud tv advocate. Wannabe tea nerd. Infuriatingly humble zombie junkie. Friendly webaholic.

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