1501 Broadway, also known as the Paramount Building, is a 33-story, 372-foot (113 m) office building located between West 43rd and 44th Streets in the Times Square neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It once housed the Paramount Theatre.
The structure is currently the 360th tallest building in New York City. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1988.
Paramount Pictures, one of the major American motion picture companies in the 1920s, built its headquarters at the 1501 Broadway location along with a cinematic theatre. Construction lasted a year between 1926-1927 costing $13.5 million. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest building in Times Square, and once sported an observation deck.
Paramount president Adolph Zukor had acquired a controlling interest in the Chicago-based Balaban and Katz theater chain, and with it the services of Sam Katz, who became the head of Paramount’s theater division. Balaban and Katz had a long working relationship with the Chicago architectural firm Rapp and Rapp (C.W Rapp and George L. Rapp), which had designed numerous theaters for his company in the Midwest. They later hired the firm to design their new Manhattan flagship theatre and office tower. The Rapp brothers created a thirty-three story office tower which was influenced by the Art Deco style, and a theatre in the palatial Neo-Renaissance style behind it. The theatre closed in 1964 and was torn down in 1967.
Today, the Paramount Building is known for its large four-faced clock near the top of the pyramidial architectural feature, with the hours denoted by five-pointed stars (forming a circle of stars as used in the Paramount Pictures logo), topped by an ornamental glass globe. At the outset of World War II, the globe and clock were painted black to maintain blackout conditions for fear of an enemy invasion; they were restored in 1996.
The ceilings were painted with a fresco and gilded, while the railings were manufactured from brass. There were Greek statues and busts carved in wall niches, while the restrooms and waiting rooms were grandiose in style in comparison to cathedrals at the time. The highlight of the decor was an enormous crystal chandelier in the main lobby. The theater with 3,664 seats, was located at the rear of the building and served as the company’s flagship venue where its major films would be premiered.
The theater entrance at the front of the Paramount Building is marked by a five story arch on Broadway with an elaborate curved marquee, which was restored in 2007. A long gallery passed from there through the office building to reach the theater itself, which occupied the rear of the building which extends through the middle of the block between 43rd and 44th streets. This structure included a long grand lobby along the south end which opened into the auditorium facing a stage at the north end. The lobby was modeled after the Paris Opera House with white marble columns, balustrades and an opening arms grand staircase. Within the auditorium, the drapes were colored in red velvet and the rugs were designed in a similar red. The interior of it was very high but somewhat shallow as necessitated by its allotted space. In addition, a large orchestra pit could be raised and lowered from the basement for theatric use.