Places that Matter

Koster & Bial's "The Corner" (former)

from NYPL Digitial Gallery
from NYPL Digitial Gallery
Site of theaters and burlesque halls closed by anti-vice police
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The Corner is the last remaining part of Koster & Bial's, a 19th century entertainment center that included vaudeville shows, musical entertainment, and refreshments. It is also a reminder of the era when Chelsea was one of the city's important theatrical hubs.

Koster & Bial's Music Hall opened in 1879 on 23rd Street--a popular location for theaters and other places of entertainment during the late 19th century. The Koster & Bial complex soon grew to include an outdoor beer garden stretching along Sixth Avenue. And, in 1886, the owners expanded with an annex called "The Corner" at the corner of 24th Street. This annex appears to have had a bar on the ground floor and "public rooms" on the upper stories. All of the Corner's pursuits may not have been of the most innocent nature, however, as it was closed by the vice squad in 1896.

The Corner's 1886 building, designed by the German architects Schwarzman & Buchanan, retains many of its original features including plaques and a cornice with its name inscribed. For many years during the late-20th century the building continued its role as an entertainment venue as home to a topless bar, first called Billy's Topless and later, after laws were tightened, Billy's Stopless. This bar closed in 2001 and was replaced by a bagel store.

Sources:

Dolkart, Andrew S. "Midtown Research Project of the New York Landmarks Conservancy." New York City Landmarks Conservancy. Released in 1985, Revised in 1986.

LeDuff, Charlie. "Gay 90's Into Gray 00's: You Can't Buy a Thrill." New York Times, June 18, 2000.

Wolfe, Gerard R. New York: A Guide to the Metropolis. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 1994.