New York Film Locations

Google Street View: Studio 54

7 October 2019

Google Street View was launched in 2007 and is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides interactive panoramas from positions along many streets in the world. Most photography is done by car, but some is done by tricycle, boat, snowmobile, and underwater apparatus, as well as on foot. Throughout the last decade, Google has improved the quality of its cameras and has added museums, libraries, hotels and even the world famous Studio 54 nightclub and how the interior looks today.

Google Maps showing the location of Studio 54

Originally named the Gallo Opera House, Studio 54 was constructed in 1927 before it was converted into the New Yorker Theatre in 1930. The venue was leased to CBS studios from 1942 until 1976 when CBS sold it. The space was renovated into the most renowned disco club of its time, Studio 54. Disco fanatics danced the night away until 1980 when the club closed. Since then, the venue has been used as a space for even more nightclubs and rock concerts. The Roundabout Theatre Company transferred its production of Cabaret to the former nightclub in 1998, and since that time the space has been home to the company.

Google Street View showing the entrance to Studio 54

Google Street View showing the rear view of the entrance doors

Google Street View showing the entrance and its mirrored walls

Google Street View showing the original Studio 54 logo on the doors

Two American entrepreneurs, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, purchased the studio and converted it into a nightclub. They desired a frequently changing atmosphere, so they took advantage of the original fly rails used to move theatrical sets and lights. During the club’s first year, it made seven million dollars. In December 1978, Rubell instigated a probe of the club when he boasted that only the Mafia made more money than Studio 54. This led to Rubell and Schrager being charged with tax evasion and conspiracy in June 1979. A second investigation occurred in December of that year, and Rubell and Schrager faced prison charges and were forced to sell the club.

On 12th September 1981, Studio 54 reopened by showcasing up-and-coming artists at the time, including Madonna and Duran Duran. The venue was owned by CAT Entertainment and rechristened The Ritz. It was during this time that the venue began housing rock concerts until CAT Entertainment was taken over by Cabaret Royale Corporation, a Dallas-based nightclub manager, in 1993. The nightclub was completely restored, and the new nightclub was named Cabaret Royale at Studio 54 until CAT Entertainment lost its lease in 1995.

Google Street View showing the stairs to the balcony

Allied Partners purchased the building and renovated it before it reopened once again as a nightclub with a concert by disco celebrities Gloria Gaynor, Sister Sledge, and Vicki Sue Robinson. The club went bankrupt in 1996 and Allied Partners planned on destroying the building and replacing it with Cyberdrome, a virtual reality gaming site. Roundabout Theatre Company came to the rescue when access to Henry Miller’s Theatre was blocked by a construction accident. The revival of Cabaret was in the middle of its run at the Henry Miller, and to keep the musical open, the Roundabout Theatre Company transferred the show to Studio 54, and eventually purchased the venue.

In 2005, Roundabout Theatre Company finally cleared out the nightclub tables that it had been utilizing since Cabaret, and put in rows of seats on risers to create the inclined seating that today’s Broadway audiences desire. The marble/mirror walkway has been converted into a mini museum.

Google Street View showing the balcony

Google Street View showing the seating area

Studio 54 is one of the most famous theatres on Broadway to be returned to theatrical use in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It was such a renowned club that people had a difficult time believing it could run as a legitimate theatre ever again. Despite everyone’s doubts, Studio 54 was protected and reconstructed. Today, patrons watching a production at the venue are sitting in the original auditorium space that can now accommodate up to 944 patrons.


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