New York’s Lincoln Center is considered the largest and most spacious cultural complex in the world. In its beautiful buildings, you can go to a ballet performance, an opera, a symphony, watch a movie or a theater performance.
Lincoln Center was originally planned as an urban redevelopment project, led by leading expert Robert Moses. The construction was mainly financed by the Rockefeller family. Due to this megalomaniac project, several West Side landmarks had to be demolished. The local residents, who had lived in the apartment buildings here for many years, had to be forcibly evicted. New high-rise buildings rose along West End Avenue, providing a home for about 10,000 residents, but the face of the city was changed forever. What was originally a working-class neighborhood has become a neighborhood designed more for the middle classes. Paradoxically, just before the demolition, the original old houses became the backdrops for the filming of the movie version of “West Side Story”.
Among the first completed buildings of this vast complex is the concert hall, which is the work of Max Abramovitz and whose construction cost 19.7 million dollars. The grand opening took place on September 23, 1962 and was named Philharmony Hall. From the very beginning, however, the building was problematic, especially from the point of view of acoustics, which is why in 1976 extensive and financially expensive modifications had to be made. Money donated by a Hi-Fi manufacturer to Lincoln Center was used to improve the acoustics. As an expression of gratitude, an auditorium with more than 2,700 seats was named after him, which has been called Avery Fisher Hall ever since.
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The largest and most expensive hall of the complex is the Metropolitan Opera House, which was designed by the head of the board of architects Wallace K. Harrison. The hall cost a whopping $46.9 million and can hold nearly 4,000 people. The third largest building was the New York State Theater built in 1964. It is the only building in the entire complex that was created with state and city money. Here, too, the acoustics had to be improved in 1982. At first glance, all these three named buildings are very grand, have sumptuous decorations and are really attractive to the public. Most experts, however, consider them not very successful works from an architectural point of view.
The Lincoln Center Theater building is home to the Vivian Beaumont and Mitzi E. Newhouse theaters. It was built in 1965, as was the New York Public Library of Performing Arts. Two architectural offices, Aero Saarinen & Associates and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, collaborated on their creation. The library houses one of the most important collections related to music, dance and theatre. Here you will find more than 200,000 books, recordings, tapes, sheet music, video recordings and materials suitable for children.
The New York Public Library of Performing Arts houses the largest dance-themed collection in the world. The so-called The Dance Collection contains more than 30,000 books, manuscripts and recordings of interviews with dancers, their movement numbers and dance performances. The Music Division also houses unique audio recordings, video recordings, an American collection of jazz, pop and colonial music. The Billy Rose Theater Collection is rich in programs, posters and photographs from theatre, circuses, cabarets, films, radio and television. More than 1,600 live-action films are stored in the Theater of Film and Tape Archives.
Three years later than the library, the Juilliard School building, home of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, was completed. Up to a thousand seats are available in the local Alice Tully Hall. The complex also includes a 28-story building called the Samuel B. and David Rose Building, which was completed in 1991 and serves mainly as offices, rehearsal rooms, and dormitories.
The importance of Lincoln Center as the cultural center of New York is unquestionable. It is a popular place not only for tourists, but also permanent residents of the city like to come here in large numbers. Around 5 million visitors visit the performances here every year. However, many more of them walk through the vast square, sit on the benches and admire the gushing fountains. Of course, the free concerts and other similar events taking place on the open stage of the Guggenheim Bandshell are also popular.