Russ Delmar’s Magic Center

I have written about my Journey Into Magic, in which I mentioned my love of hanging around the Magic Center on 8th Avenue. I was delighted to find an old New York City tax photo from the 1940s which clearly shows the Magic Center at 741 8th Avenue (I believe Russ later moved his shop next door to 739).

Click the image to enlarge it; the Magic Center is clearly visible on the right.

Edit: Now, thanks to commenter DS below, we have a lovely photo from a Magic Cafe catalog:

This is pretty much how I remember the store.

Edit 2: Some lovely memories of Russ and his magic center were provided by reader Gary; you can read them at Judge Brown • Magic.

Russ used to advertise various tricks in magazines of the day, including Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and the New Yorker:

The next thing I need is for someone out there in the wide world of the Internet to come up with a good photo of Russ himself.

Edit: A few additional pictures for history’s sake:

The 739 building awaiting demolition
The 741 building to the north is gone, and the 739 building is being torn down
Google Street View of what replaced the old buildings. Time marches on, but memories remain.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

18 responses to “Russ Delmar’s Magic Center

  1. Pingback: The Journey into Magic… | Playing in the World Game

  2. Glad to see someone writing about this place. While in 7th grade (1971) my friends and I would walk there from our school on 54th and 6th avenue. What a treat it was to watch up close, perhaps because it was so up close and small, it fueled my love for magic even more than Tannen’s.

  3. Hi Richard Cohn here.
    The store depicted was owned by Al COHN (not from DC) “The Sponge Ball King” before Russ owned it. Yes, it later moved south on the same block.
    A caricature of Al is the man on the magic carpet with a turban and cigar in the ads.

    • That’s some fascinating information, Richard. Thanks for adding it to the history. I love knowing the provenance of the caricature. Thanks again!

      PS: for what it’s worth, Al Stevenson was a dear friend, and I had a number of his sponge balls which I used until they disintegrated with age. I enjoyed the article about sponge balls at Magicpedia, which I was led to by your comment.

  4. Pingback: Kick the chair and gamble a stamp | Playing in the World Game

    • Lovely indeed, Gary – thank you so much! Your memories of Russ and his Magic Center echo mine. The photos in this post are of the Magic Center as it was when owned by Al Cohn; Russ moved his store south on the same block, probably to save a bit on rent. I never got to visit the location that had the large stage in back. I’m hoping that somewhere out there in the Internet is a good photo of Russ, and that someone will come across this post or yours and be able to provide it. I appreciate the link to your essay.

  5. Where did you get the Russ Delmar Magic Center image? I’d like to use it in an article about Dorothy

    • Nice reading about all the wonderful memories of my grandfather, as I pretty young when he had passed away.
      I do remember he used to pull quarters out of my ears, I was amazed!
      Over the years I have came across quite a few things and old photos, it’s nice to be able to connect some dots

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