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New York's Premier Source for Antique, Reproductions and Contemporary Lighting Since 1906

Founded in 1906

A family owned and operated business for nearly a century, City Knickerbocker was founded in 1906 by Russian immigrant Adolph Liroff, who began his career by converting gasoliers and sconces to electric lamps for his neighbors in Brooklyn. As business grew, Adolph rented a space on 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan, carrying the samovars to and from Brooklyn in burlap bags.

Opera Started it All

Adolph loved the opera, and was delighted when he was asked to rent some of his fixtures to the Metropolitan Opera Company. Skilled at fabricating custom lighting that created just the right ambience for the Opera Company's sets, he was soon renting period fixtures to the Shuberts and other Broadway production companies, in addition to cultivating a growing business with the Metropolitan. By 1912-13, the business was largely rentals, with sales and repairs constituting a very small percentage of the profits.

Seymour Moves the Business

In the 1950s, Adolph’s son Seymour took over the business and moved it to larger quarters on Eighth Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets in the heart of Manhattan’s Theatre District.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young Seymour

Television finds City Knickerbocker

The new medium of television was exploding, and soon City Knickerbocker began supplying rentals to The Milton Berle Show, Ed Sullivan, Dinah Shore, Perry Como, Sid Caesar, and Jackie Gleason, among others. At the same time, theatrical lighting remained an important part of the business, and City Knickerbocker helped create the ambience - and props - for productions such as West Side Story, My Fair Lady and Hello Dolly.

That's Seymour giving his personal attention!

Ken Takes Over

In the 1970s, Seymour's son Kenneth expanded the business to include contract and custom lighting sales, supplying custom lighting fixtures to large hotels such as the Britannia Beach Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas as well as fixtures for The Steak and Brew chain.

City Knickerbocker and the New York City Film Industry

The growth of the film industry in New York also offered new opportunities, and "City Knick," as it is affectionately called by its loyal customers, created props for two Oscar-winners: The Godfather and The Hustler.

The beautiful fixtures created for the hit film Network caused a tremendous surge in sales and rentals of green-glass bankers lamps across the nation. At the same time, the demands of theatre continued to challenge and inspire the City Knickerbocker lighting designers. Among the most memorable projects was one for the Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank. The show required a chandelier that had to crash and fall apart each night - and be reassembled in time for the next evening's show.

See how City Knick lighting swings!...

Scott takes over the family business!

Bythe time that Kenneth’s son Scott entered the family business in the 1980s, feature film production had become big business in New York City.

4 Generations of Liroff Men

Films, Hotels, Soap Operas and more...

City Knickerbocker created props for Malcolm X, The Verdict, The Age of Innocence, Sabrina, Rounders, Meet Joe Black and A Beautiful Mind, as well as every Woody Allen film. Daytime operas such as All My Children, As The World Turns, Guiding Light and One Life To Live, and nighttime dramas and comedies including The Soprano's, Law and Order, Sex and The City and Third Watch have regularly turned to City Knickerbocker for their props and lighting supplies. For 25+ years, City Knickerbocker has done the lighting for every Saturday Night Live show. City Knickerbocker also supplies lighting for The Olive Garden chain of restaurants.

A Personal Touch

With a vast inventory and the ability to supply or replicate pieces from any period, City Knickerbocker has furnished crystals, globes, shades, and other items to restaurants, museums, historic landmarks and private residences all over the world in addition to film and theatre companies. Since 1906, word-of-mouth has been our primary source of advertising. We are proud of our reputation and prouder still of our relationships with our customers. In an impersonal era, personal relationships remain one of the pleasures of this family-owned and operated business. While we no longer transport lamps in burlap bags, we still treat every customer like a neighbor - and a friend. If you are ever in the neighborhood, we hope you will drop by and say hello!

City Knickerbocker is proudly listed in

"THE HISTORIC SHOPS & RESTAURANTS OF NEW YORK, A GUIDE TO CENTURY OLD ESTABLISHMENTS IN THE CITY "
by Ellen Williams & Steve Radlauer
We're on page 137!