The Manhattan Center building was built in 1906, originally as the Manhattan Opera House by Oscar Hammerstein I. The architects were J.B. McElfatrick & Son. Opened on December 3, 1906.
The root cause for the construction centered around boldly rivaling the established Metropolitan Opera by featuring cheaper seat costs for the ordinary New Yorker. Rapidly, it became the alternative venue for many great operas and celebrated singers to make their debut.
In 1910, after the Metropolitan Opera could no longer withstand competition, offered Hammerstein $1.2 million to cease producing opera for a course of 10 years. He accepted the offer and experimented with various acts preceding the decision to sell the building.
In March 1911, it was opened as a "combination" house by the Shubert brothers featuring vaudeville shows during the week and concerts on Sunday nights at much more affordable prices.
In 1922, the Manhattan Opera House was purchased by the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Free Masonry, who built a new building fasçade and The Grand Ballroom on the seventh floor.
In 1926, Warner Brothers chose to set up the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system in The Grand Ballroom to capture the 107-piece New York Philharmonic orchestra for the film Don Juan which marked the release of the inaugural commercial film featuring a recorded musical soundtrack.
In 1940, the name of the building altered to the Manhattan Center helping to attract a variety of different types of events.
In 1976, the building was purchased by its current owner, the Unification Church for $3,000,000. and becme a warehouse.
In 1986, Manhattan Center Studios was formed to develop the center into a venue with the capability of holding multimedia festivities. MCS expanded the audio recording facilities when Studio 4 was opened in 1993. Studio 7 was rebuilt in 1996 to become a state-of-the-art control room capable of servicing all types of recordings and live events in the Ballrooms.
The Manhattan Center became a hot spot for "big band" dances as well as trade shows, union meetings and other social functions.
Among the diverse events held here throughout the decades that followed were radio broadcasts, recordings and performances by the likes of Paul Robeson, Judy Garland, Harry Belafonte, Perry Como, Leonard Bernstein, David Bowie, Grateful Dead, Bob Marley. In the early 1990s, wrestling show WWE Monday Night Raw broadcast from the Grand Ballroom a record 28 times.
Jerry performed here on
4/4/71 NRPS and Grateful Dead(2)
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1.)^Biermans, J. 1986, The Odyssey of New Religious Movements, Persecution, Struggle, Legitimation: A Case Study of the Unification Church Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario: The Edwin Melton Press