Thursday, February 14, 2013

More Riverside Theater

This is the standard early 1920's program cover for the Keith circuit.  I found another east coast theater using the same art work on the program cover, the Orpheum (in Boston I believe) that was proud to be presenting Houdini live on stage. What a smart couple, all dressed up for an evening at the Riverside.


At the time of this programs publication composer and bandleader Julius Lenzberg was the orchestra leader at the Riverside.  This is the Riverside Orchestra, Julius is the guy with the violin.  Born January 3 1878 in Baltimore, Lenzberg began his career accompanying dancing lessons at the piano.  By 1903, with a couple of published compositions to his credit, he got himself married and moved to New York City, eventually settling in Queens.  Thus began a long stint serving as orchestra leader at various vaudeville houses in Manhattan and in the summer, he led a band out on Long Island.
In 1919, Lenzberg served as director of the George White Scandals of 1919 and also led the house band at the Riverside Theater in New York. That year, Lenzberg  and the Riverside Orchestra began to make records for Edison, and though Lenzberg's recording activity ended in 1922, he was prolific, ultimately producing more than 50 sides for Edison.  Lenzberg continued to lead a band and appear on radio once it emerged, into the 1930s, but the depression knocked him out of the performing end of the business. By the last time Lenzberg is heard from in the early 1940s, he was working as a booking agent.  He passed away in April 1956.   

 However, here he is in a 1922 program, along with Horton's Ice Cream. Is that stuff still around?

 Was this Julius's view as he crossed Broadway? Could be as this is circa 1920.  The Riverside, Riviera and the Japanese Gardens all still have their original marquees, but the neon signs are new.  Although William Fox (as in 20th Century) began construction of the Riverside, he gave it up to the uber powerful Keith people when they threatened him with no acts for his other theaters. The B. F. Keith people knew that 96th street was an ideal location; conveniently located with an express subway stop right there, you also have direct access to the New York Central Hudson River Railroad and the not yet covered over tracks at 96th street on the Hudson.  Very important if you are moving a vaudeville show that often traveled as a package around the east coast, if not the country.  
Notice that the 1923 Broadway View Hotel, known today as the place we all know and love, The Regent, does not appear to looming in the middle of Broadway as does today, placed perfectly where Broadway takes a bend to the west following the path of the old Bloomingdale Road.

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