Constructed in 1888, Irving Plaza is a 1,000-person ballroom-type music hall located at the heart of New York City, New York. The three story music venue was formerly used as a headquarters for Polish Army veterans and Yiddish theatre. It had also seen its days as a popular burlesque theater where the controversial ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee was said to have performed a strip dance. Currently, the Irving Plaza serves as a theatre house and a rock and roll venue.
Originally the only structure that stood on the location was the Irving Hall. The place was opened in the beginning of 1860 and initially served as a location for lecture, concerts, parties and balls. Likewise, it was the venue for meetings of one of the Democratic Party factions. Then in 1888, the venue reopened as Amberg German Theatre and used as place for the German Language drama classes with Gustav Amberg as manager. Five years later, Gustav was replaced by Heinrich Conried who renamed the place as Irving Place Theatre.
In its early days, the Irving Plaza also served as the home for the Morris Schwartz’ Yiddish theatre group. Then apart from the Yiddish shows, the Plaza also showed burlesque numbers. Before the Second World War, the hall was made into a film theatre to show Italian movies. Then it was bought in 1948 by the Polish Army Veterans of the United States and transformed the place into a popular and well-attended community center. Many distinguished Polish personalities graced the stage including Pope John Paul II.
By the end of the 70s the Plaza was transformed in to a rock music hall by Frank Roccio and Tom Goodkind of Peppermint Lounge. Early performers and rock groups that shared their acts in the hall were Talking Heads, the Ramones, B-52s, and a number of British rock groups. This solidified the claim of Irving Plaza as the premier venue for punk, rock and new wave sounds.
The late 80s was when alternative rock saw its days at the music venue. But it was also in the later part of the 80s decade when the Polish Veterans made plans of converting the place into a condominium building. Fortunately, the plan didn’t push through. The club was renovated and re-opened in April 1987 under the supervision of Chris Williamson. Then in the early part of the 90s, there was again a major change in the management with Ron Delsener taking over the helm.
Live Nation, a new company serving as spinoff of global entertainment company Clear Channel, worked on the renovation and reopening of the Irving Plaza under a yet brand-new moniker, Fillmore New York At Irving Plaza. It essentially was an attempt to revive the name of the Filmore East in New York’s East Village, which was a music hall itself that was in operation but only for a few years. Finally in 2010 it was realized by Live nation that the new name Filmore New York had not caught on. Because of relentless demand from the public, music hall was again given its name Irving Plaza, one which it had for most of its years in existence.