Talkin' Broadway V.J.

The Broadway of Yesteryear

About a year or so ago I asked our resident writer Robert Rusie about the history of Broadway, the street, not the business. He writes Broadway 101 for us and so I thought this was a good topic. Where did the name come from? How did it all begin?

"BROADWAY, most celebrated of the great streets of the world, had a most humble beginning. It has always been the central artery of New York, and the story of Broadway is the history of the city itself. An Indian trail before white men reached the Island of Manhattan, in the days of the Dutch it had grown into a country road called Heere Straat or Breedeweg. The name Broadway or Breedeweg had its origin in the broad way that led from the entrance of the old Fort up to the gate at Wall Street. The street was wide near the Fort to give room for the soldiers to drill. This explains the contradiction between the name and the appearance of Broadway. When a wall was put about the little town, stretching across the Island on the line of the present Wall Street, Breedeweg led directly to the city gate. Beyond the gate it wandered away to the north, and for close upon a hundred years was the only road extending the length of the Island. With the coming of the British, Breedeweg quite naturally changed from a Dutch to an English thoroughfare and became Broadway."

With that in mind I asked Robert to come up with a gallery, something different. It would be easy to put together a gallery of photos which are simply theatre related but I wanted the history of the street. As a result and a year in the making we proudly present The Broadway of Yesteryear Gallery. Here, you will find prints and photographs dating from 1640 to 1905 showing many historical spots on this great street known as Broadway.

I'd like to thank both Robert and Ann Miner, our Webmaster, for putting this historical document together. Robert is currently working on the 1940's section of Broadway 101 which is theatre history, decade by decade, that we present here.

Tidbits: Multi-award-winning singer Tom Andersen opened last Friday at the FireBird Cafe, and thanks to Betty Buckley, it'll be a "Memory" he'll always treasure. Not only was the Tony-winning actress at ringside applauding him on, she stayed after the show to chat with Tom for about 5 minutes and posed for pictures. Buckley told Tom he was "a great singer who can sing everything" and she marveled at his breath control: "How do you hold those notes forever? You don't even look like you're inhaling!" Tom says, "She's always been one of my idols, and she's so incredibly gracious." Tom's got three more shows: Friday at 9 p.m.; Saturday at 9 and 11 p.m. At FireBird Cafe, 365 W. 46th St., N.Y. Cover, $15; $15 food-drink minimum. (212) 586-0244.

After a detour, because of a leg injury, Sandy Duncan opens tonight in the Broadway production of Chicago as killer-diller Roxie Hart. A friend of mine attended a few rehearsals and tells me, "Chicago is about to be set on fire again. Sandy is Dyn-O-Mite!" Sandy also graces the cover of the current issue of InTheater Magazine.

Tonight we begin a new season of reviews with the opening of Voices in the Dark. After cutain tonight you'll be able to read Fergus McGillicuddy's review. And yes, that is his real name! Two-time Tony Award winning actress Judith Ivey stars. Word is Broadway has a hit!

See you Sunday!

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