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Shubert has owned the Winter Garden Theatre longer than any of its other venues. The playhouse occupies the second American Horse Exchange, built by William K. Vanderbilt in 1896, when Longacre (now Times Square) was the center of the horse and carriage trade. By 1911, when the Shuberts leased the Exchange, horses had given way to the automobile and legitimate stage was making inroads north of 42nd St. The Winter Garden was converted into a theatre in 1911, and had brief interludes as a movie house from 1928 to 1933 when Warner Brothers leased it, and again in 1945, when United Artists ran it.
Architect William Albert Swasey converted the existing horse exchange building into a theatre by turning the showring into an auditorium with only one balcony, and decorating it with a garden motif. The existing space dictated that Swasey design a playhouse that was unusually wide (the proscenium opening is still the widest of all Shubert theatres), which brought the audience closer to the stage. Swasey left the Horse Exchange’s trusses exposed, covered the ceiling in sky blue canvas, trimming both it and the walls with latticework. Garlands and leaves entwined the box fronts and proscenium arch. The stage at one point included a water tank, and in its first decade extended a runway out into the audience, dubbed by audiences “The Bridge of Thighs.”
Twelve years after the theatre opened, Herbert J. Krapp completed a major renovation of the interior which eliminated the runway, lowered the ceiling and proscenium arch, and covered the trusses, adding elegant ornamentation and bringing the theatre more in line with the traditional Adamesque style used in other Shubert venues. In 2001 after Cats closed, architect Francesca Russo oversaw a multimillion dollar restoration of the theatre to its Twenties' glory.
Spotlight on Broadway: Winter Garden Theatre from Spotlight on Broadway on Vimeo.
Theatre is not completely wheelchair accessible. There are no steps into the theatre from the sidewalk. Please be advised that where there are steps, either into or within the theatre, we are unable to provide assistance.
Shubert Audience Services
The Winter Garden Theatre provides accommodations for patrons who are blind, deaf, partially sighted, and/or have hearing loss. The theatre provides infrared assistive listening devices for every performance at the theatre. In addition, beginning four weeks after a show’s official opening night performance, hand-held audio description devices, hand-held captioning devices, and unlimited access to downloadable audio description and/or captioning for personal mobile devices are all available free of charge. Prior thereto, we offer live-caption via CART using a hand-held device, upon request with two-weeks’ advance notice. For assistance, or If you have questions, contact Shubert Audience Services at 212-944-3700 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a representative at the Shubert Audience Services kiosk at every performance to assist any patron with any of our devices, software, or technology. Hand-held devices are limited, although additional devices can be obtained with at least twenty-four hours’ notice.
Accessibility by Seating Section
Orchestra Location: Seating is accessible to all parts of the Orchestra without steps. There are no steps in the designated wheelchair seating location.
Mezzanine Location: Located on the 2nd level - up 2 flights (34 steps). Please Note: On the Mezzanine level, there are approximately 2 steps down per row. Entrance to the Mezzanine is behind row K.
Handrails: Available at the rear entrance stairs to every aisle, and at every row but only in the very far side aisle at each end of the Mezzanine.
Wheelchair | Companion Seat Locations:
Orchestra: N101 | N102-104; R119 | R116-118, V102 | V101, U101-102, V104 | V105, U103-104; V116 | V117, U117-118; V14 | V12, U14-16; V13 | V15, U13-15; V3 | V1, U5-7; V6 | V4, U6-8; V7 | V9, U9-11; V20 | V18, U18-20; V24 |V26, U24-26; V34 | V30, U34-36, D19 | D13-17, G19-23; L33 | L27-31; D20 | D14-18; K32 | K26-30; P44 | P38-42; U42 | U40; T40-42
Aisle Seat with Folding Armrest | Companion Locations:
Orchestra: B1 | B3; B2 | B4; F1 | F3; H2 | H4; Q2 | Q4; L117 | L116; P101 | P102; S1 | S3; T101 | T102
There is a wheelchair accessible restroom.
Located in Lobby.
The use of cameras, recording devices, cell phones, beepers, and other electronic devices during the performance is prohibited, except as permitted for accessibility services. Everyone attending a performance must have a ticket. Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of management. Wheelchair and mobility-impaired seating is intended for patrons with mobility disabilities. Children under the age of four years will not be admitted. No outside food or beverage permitted, unless medically necessary. No weapons permitted on the premises.