In 1827, William Niblo built a set of interconnected stages and garden with its entrance on Crosby, near the corner of Prince, and over the years, it grew to become the largest theatre in America with a capacity of 3200. Here it is in a drawing from the mid-1800s.
These days, when people say “Broadway,” they think of Times Square. But in terms of “showbiz,” Broadway’s opening night occurred here, at Niblo’s, on September 12th, 1866—the inaugural performance of the Black Crook, the first musical ever performed in America.
Featuring 100 beautiful dancing girls dressed in tights, as well as spectacular props and stage sets, the lighthearted comedy caused an instant sensation, running for 475 performances, with many subsequent revivals and an international tour. On an investment of $50,000, the show returned a million dollars in profit, and its success paved the way for modern Broadway show business. You can see some of the girls from that original chorus line in this picture from 1866 – the first Broadway hoofers.
Experience these and other stories in our SoHo tour. We offer a unique New York walking tour experience, told with audio narration, hundreds of pictures, video clips, gps-enabled map, trivia quizzes, local recommendations, and much more. Walk NYC with Racontrs in your hand and take a walk through history.