Newark Symphony Hall at 1020 Broad Street
near Lincoln Park had a long and illustrious life as the Mosque
The Mosque Theatre was opened in 1925 with a 2,880 seat capacity,
a 70 foot wide stage, and near perfect acoustics.
By the 1960's, nearly all of the 'greats' of popular and classical
music and the performing arts had performed for Newark audiences
on the Mosque Theatre stage including Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.
The Mosque Theatre orchestra was directed by Newark-native Mort
Around 1961, I recall going to the Mosque to see a basketball
game played on the Mosque stage: The Harlem Globetrotters1
vs. the Hawaii 50th Staters. The Globetrotters, with Meadowlark
Lemon as the star, easily won against the opposition team, which
traveled with the Globetrotters and played under various names.
Judy at the Mosque
Unquestionably the biggest event in the history of the Mosque
was the May 2, 1961 appearance of Judy Garland. Her show broke all
house records up to that time, not only for the size of the gate
($18,000), but also for attendance.
The 2,880 seat auditorium managed to sandwich in well over 3,000
Garland fans, which included 150 in the orchestra pit, and more
in the aisles and in the rear.
The Newark Star-Ledger report the day after the Garland concert
called the attendance 3,600. Alan Branigan's concert story in the
Newark Evening News said there were "more than 3,800."
Newspaper reports said traffic on Broad Street near the theatre
was tied up for more than an hour while ticket holders made their
way to the theatre.
Mick at the Mosque
Another notable happening at the Mosque in the 1960s that drew
capacity crowds was the afternoon and evening performances of the
Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger in November 1965, as a stop on their
Fall American Tour that year.
After the War
A notable post World War II appearance on the Mosque stage that
attracted throngs of Newarkers was a concert by Benny Goodman, the
renowned king of swing, and his orchestra.
The Mosque Building
The Mosque Theatre Building also housed offices and a ballroom
where numerous Newark social events took place during the 1920s
and 1930s. It was also the site of various broadcast studios.
In the 1940s, the studios of Radio Station WAAT were in the Mosque
building. By 1947, at the Mosque, the station also signed on with
WAAT-FM, and in 1948 also began with a television station initially
known as WATV, a commercial station on Channel 13. It would later
I recall visiting a Channel 13 broadcast in the early 1960s to
witness the first presentation of a television commercial that I
had written for the Housecraft Sewing Center at Market and Washington
The time had been purchased as a "one minute pitch"
but actually took three minutes to perform.
A teacher from the Housecraft Sewing School mouthed the commercial
as she demonstrated how easy it was to put together a dress on a
Necchi sewing machine. (Housecraft was the exclusive Necchi distributor
in Essex County).
Started with pre-cut pieces ready to assemble, she started the
commercial while sewing the dress parts at the same time. She finished
the commercial and the dress at precisely the same time--in three