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The TKTS Booth from “Glee”

Aug 15th, 2016 | By | Category: Glee Filming Locations

The TKTS Stairs from Glee-1130989

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I bailed on the television series Glee shortly after the second part of the first season began airing.  In my opinion, after starting out so strong, the show totally jumped the shark at that point.  But because I love the Big Apple, I did make sure to tune in to the Season 2 episode titled “New York,” which was partially shot in Manhattan.  One of the locations featured was the TKTS booth, or TKTS staircase, in Times Square.  While I had seen the booth shortly after it was constructed in 2008, I had never properly stalked it.  So, since the site is so picturesque and so quintessentially New York, I made sure to amend that while visiting the city this past April.

The TKTS (pronounced “Tee-Kay-Tee-Ess”) booth was initially established in 1973 to provide theatregoers with same-day discount tickets to Broadway shows.  The pavilion was constructed at Duffy Square, a traffic island situated between West 46th Street, 7th Avenue, Broadway, and West 47th Street that was named in honor of World War I military chaplain Father Francis P. Duffy.  (A statue honoring Duffy is pictured in the images below.)  The original design, which was completed by the Mayers & Schiff Associates architecture firm and stood at the site from 1973 through 2006, consisted of a trailer surrounded by a red truss frame strung through with white canvas panels bearing the TKTS logo.  You can see what it looked like here and here.

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Though Mayers & Schiff’s design proved iconic, the structure was only meant to be a temporary installation and it eventually began to show signs of wear and tear.  In 1999, the Theatre Development Fund, along with the NYC 2000 Millennium Committee and the Van Alen Institute, hosted a competition to re-design the booth.  Over 683 submissions were received, but there was one clear winner.  Australian architects John Choi and Tai Ropiha’s concept of a red staircase topping a transparent pavilion won the vote.  Of their creation, juror Tucker Viemeister said, “The winner is really the winner.  Seldom in a design competition with so many excellent entries is the winner so obviously the best choice.  It goes beyond meeting the criteria and is even poetic (which is really hard considering the Times Square environment!)  It will become a landmark.”  The Perkins Eastman architecture firm was brought in to finalize the design, which consists of a glass ticket booth with twelve sales windows . . .

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. . . capped by a large set of red bleacher-style steps.

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Construction of the new booth began in May 2006 and was completed in October 2008.

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The TKTS Stairs from Glee-1130992

The TKTS stairs have gone on to win 18 design awards and today are a favorite gathering place for New Yorkers and tourists alike.  The site is also turning into a popular filming location.

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In the “New York” episode of Glee, the New Directions members gather at the TKTS booth upon first arriving in the Big Apple for Nationals.  While there, they spontaneously break out into an a cappella version of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

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The TKTS booth also popped up later in the episode during the “I Love New York”/”New York, New York” mash-up number.

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Alicia Keys and Jay Z made prominent use of the TKTS stairs in their 2009 music video for “Empire State of Mind.”

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You can watch that video by clicking below.

A dilapidated version of the TKTS booth was featured in 2007’s I Am Legend, though no actual filming took place at the site.

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Instead, the steps were re-created as part of an elaborate set inside of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx for the shoot.  You can see photos of that re-creation and the entire Times Square set here.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The TKTS Booth, from the “New York” episode of Glee, is located at 1564 Broadway in Times Square.

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