The site of the Fleischer Studio during it’s heyday of the 1930s is about to come down. An apartment building will probably take its place.The New York Times reports today that the building at 1600 Broadway, built in 1902 as a showroom for Studebaker Brothers vehicles, facing 48th Street and Seventh Avenue, and served over the years as the backdrop for countless postcards and snapshots of the Great White Way, is being demolished.
Columbia Pictures may be said to have been born there, since it was in an office at 1600 Broadway that Harry Cohn, Joseph Brandt and Jack Cohn formed the C.B.C. Film Sales Company in 1920. Four years later, tired of the nickname “Corned Beef and Cabbage,” they renamed the company Columbia. The building also housed the National Screen Service Corporation, suppliers of movie posters and other promotional materials.
Max Fleischer moved his animation studio there December 1st, 1923. For 15 years the studio produced it’s cartoon masterpieces – Koko The Clown, Bouncing Ball “Screen Songs”, Talkartoons, Betty Boop, Grampy, Bimbo, Color Classics and of course, Popeye – in this building. 1600 Broadway is directly across the the street from 729 Seventh Avenue which, in the 1930s, was the home of rival Van Beuren Cartoon Studios. According to the Times:
Sherwood Equities, the owner of the property and the developer of the Renaissance hotel, has applied to the city’s Buildings Department to construct a 25-story, 136-unit apartment tower at 1600 Broadway. Jeffrey Katz, the chief executive of Sherwood, said that he had seriously explored renovating the 102-year-old structure but that doing so would not be feasible. “It’s drastically out of place at this time,” Mr. Katz said. Sherwood purchased the building in 1986 from the Robbins family, which controlled National Screen Service. “We took it over it at a low point, when Times Square was the old Times Square,” Mr. Katz said. “When we bought it, we knew we wouldn’t develop it for a long time.” But that time has come.
In recent years the building, ironically, housed a Popeye’s Fried Chicken outlet at it’s ground floor storefront. Meanwhile in Miami, the Fleischer’s Florida studio building is still intact.(Thanks to Anne D. Bernstein for the link)