See inside the Brooklyn Paramount as historic theater reopens after 60 years

Image courtesy of Evan Joseph

Fort Greene’s historic Brooklyn Paramount Theater, which once hosted legendary artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Duke Ellington, reopened last week for its first season in 60 years. A multi-million dollar restoration modernized the venue while preserving its opulent latticework ceiling, hand-crafted statues, and other Baroque features. For its first show in six decades, the Paramount hosted brothers Damian and Stephen Marley, who performed at the theater during their co-headlining Traffic Jam Tour.

Photo credit: Alive Coverage

“We’ve been hard at work for the last two years getting ready to bring music back to Brooklyn Paramount,” Tom See, president of Live Nation’s Venue Nation, said. “After months of renovations, our 250 new crew members were thrilled to welcome fans to the show for the start of Brooklyn Paramount’s inaugural season.”

First established in 1928, the Brooklyn Paramount served as a movie theater and live music venue until it was taken over in 1962 by Long Island University (LIU), which converted the music hall into a gym and removed its stage. The university retained the music hall’s ornate gilded latticework ceiling and converted the upstairs office into academic space.

Music Hall. Image courtesy of Evan Joseph

The reopening allows contemporary artists to return to a stage that once hosted legendary icons such as Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, and more.

The theater’s stunning Baroque features and famous Rococo ceiling have been preserved, while the venue has received a new modernized design fit for hosting world-class performances.

Ella’s Lounge. Image courtesy of Evan Joseph
Ella’s Bar. Image courtesy of Evan Joseph

Modern updates include a sloped floor for optimal viewing at any point in the venue, seven bars for quick service, and a second-level balcony featuring exclusive members’ boxes and “Ellas VIP lounge,” inspired by Ella Fitzgerald’s intimate 1950s performances at the theater.

The Grand Hall. Image courtesy of Evan Joseph
Grand Hall Bar. Image courtesy of Evan Joseph

Plans to restore the theater first surfaced in 2015 when Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim, the former operator of Barclay’s Center, revealed a plan to renovate the theater and return it to its former glory as an entertainment venue for $50 million. However, these plans were scrapped after Prokhorov sold the Brooklyn Nets and the arena company.

Planning, design, and construction took five years and employed more than 500 local workers. With its opening, the theater has created more than 250 permanent jobs offering a minimum wage of $20/hour or more. Additionally, Live Nation is partnering with LIU to offer internships and part-time jobs to students interested in pursuing careers in the music industry.

“This grand reopening is a testament to the enthusiasm of the Brooklyn community for our cultural traditions and opportunities,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said. “I look forward to seeing not only the acts that will take the same stage as legends of the past, but the impact the iconic institution will have on the students of Long Island University and the surrounding neighborhood.”

“Brooklyn has always been a space for artistic expression and cultural growth, and the return of the Brooklyn Paramount after decades is a sign of a bright artistic and economic future for the borough and the city.”


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