Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

The Metropolitan Opera House (left) and Avery Fisher Hall (right) at twilight

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a 16.3-acre (6.6 ha) complex of buildings in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of New York City's Upper West Side. Reynold Levy has been its president since 2002.


History and facilities

A consortium of civic leaders and others led by, and under the initiative of John D. Rockefeller III, built Lincoln Center as part of the "Lincoln Square Renewal Project" during Robert Moses's program of urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s.[1] Seventeen blocks of ethnic tenement neighborhoods were demolished through eminent domain, forcing out 7,000 families.[2] Respected architects were contacted to design the major buildings on the site, and over the next thirty years the previously blighted area around Lincoln Center became a new cultural hub.[2] Rockefeller was Lincoln Center's inaugural president from 1956 and became its chairman in 1961. He is credited with raising more than half of the $184.5 million in private funds needed to build the complex, including drawing on his own funds; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund also contributed to the project.[1]

While the center was named because it was located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, it is unclear whether the area was named as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln. The name was bestowed on the area in 1906 by the New York City Board of Aldermen, but records give no reason for choosing that name. There has long been speculation that the name came from a local landowner, because the square was previously named Lincoln Square. However, city records from the time show only the names Johannes van Bruch, Thomas Hall, Stephan de Lancey, James de Lancey, James de Lancey Jr. and John Somerindyck as area property owners. One speculation is that references to Abraham Lincoln were omitted from the records because the mayor in 1906 was George B. McClellan, Jr., son of General George B. McClellan who was general-in-chief of the Union Army during the Civil War and a bitter rival of Lincoln.[3]

Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic in Lincoln Center.
The David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, home of the New York City Opera and New York City Ballet.

The first structure to be completed and occupied as part of this renewal was the Fordham Law School of Fordham University in 1962. Located between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, from West 60th to West 66th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the Lincoln Center complex was the first gathering of major cultural institutions into a centralized location in an American city.[citation needed]

Lincoln Center cultural institutions also make use of facilities located away from the main campus. In 2004, Lincoln Center was expanded through the addition of Jazz at Lincoln Center's newly built facilities (Frederick P. Rose Hall) at the new Time Warner Center, located a few blocks to the south. In March 2006, Lincoln Center launched construction on a major redevelopment plan that will modernize, renovate, and open up the Lincoln Center campus in time for its 50th anniversary celebration in 2009.

The development of 3 Lincoln Center,[4] completed in 1991, designed by Lee S Jablin, Harman Jablin Architects, made possible the expansion of The Juilliard School.[5][6][7]

In March 2006, Lincoln Center launched the 65th Street Project—part of a major redevelopment plan continuing through 2010—to create a new pedestrian promenade designed to improve accessibility and the aesthetics of that area of the campus. Subsequent projects were added which addressed improvements to the main plazas and Columbus Avenue Grand Entrance. Under the direction of the Lincoln Center Development Project, Inc. Diller Scofidio + Renfro in association with FXFOWLE Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects provided the design services. Additionally, Turner Construction Company and RCDolner, LLC are the construction managers for the projects.[8][9]

Performance facilities

Auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Interior of the David H. Koch Theater
  • Alice Tully Hall: 1,095-seat concert hall located within the Juilliard School building; home stage of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
  • Avery Fisher Hall: 2,738-seat symphony hall; home stage of the New York Philharmonic; formerly Philharmonic Hall
  • The Metropolitan Opera House: 3,900-seat opera house; home stage of the Metropolitan Opera. This is the second Metropolitan Opera House; the original one opened in 1883 and was demolished in 1966, the year of the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera facilities at Lincoln Center.
  • David H. Koch Theater: 2,713-seat theater; originally known as the New York State Theater and constructed to be the home of the New York City Ballet, now also serves as home to the New York City Opera. Many Broadway musicals have also been revived there.
  • Vivian Beaumont Theater: 1,080-seat Broadway-style theater operated since 1985 as the main stage of Lincoln Center Theater. Previously occupied by The Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center (1965–1973) and The New York Shakespeare Festival (1973–1977).
  • Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater (originally known as the Forum): intimate 299-seat theater operated by Lincoln Center Theater for its Off-Broadway-style productions. See Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at the Internet off-Broadway Database for a list of productions in the venue.
  • The Walter Reade Theater: 268-seat movie theater; used by the Film Society of Lincoln Center; features a raised dais used for post-screening filmmaker discussions.
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center, while a part of Lincoln Center, is located separately in the Frederick P. Rose Hall complex within the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. It consists of the following performance and related facilities:
    • The Allen Room: 508-seat amphitheater with 50-foot (15 m) glass wall overlooking Central Park; part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's facilities.
    • Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola: nightclub-style venue in the Jazz at Lincoln Center facility; allows jazz to be performed in its traditional venue.
    • Rose Theater: 1,094-seat concert hall designed for jazz performances.
    • Irene Diamond Education Center: rehearsal, recording, and classroom facility at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Other associated and local theaters and facilities

  • Church of St. Ignatius Loyola: Roman Catholic Church located on Park Avenue between 83rd and 84th Streets on the Upper East Side; used by Lincoln Center for its pipe organ which allows expanded organ repertoire
  • Clark Studio Theater: 120-seat dance theater; part of the facilities of the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education
  • Damrosch Park: outdoor amphitheater with bowl-style stage known as the Guggenheim Band Shell, used for free Lincoln Center Out of Doors presentations
  • Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Rehearsal Studio: rehearsal studio of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
  • The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College: theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; used for the Lincoln Center Festival and Great Performers series
  • Josie Robertson Plaza: central plaza of Lincoln Center featuring its iconic fountain; the three main buildings (Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall, and David H. Koch Theater) face onto this plaza; used as an outdoor venue during Midsummer Night Swing and Lincoln Center Out of Doors presentations
  • Juilliard School: facility housing the school of the same name; building also incorporates Alice Tully Hall, Morse Recital Hall, Paul Recital Hall, the Juilliard Drama Theater, and the Peter J. Sharp Theater
  • Peter J. Sharp Theater
  • Morse Recital Hall: recital hall within the Juilliard School
  • New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
  • Paul Recital Hall: recital hall within the Juilliard School
  • Pope Auditorium: theater located in Leon Lowenstein Hall of Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus (located across West 62nd Street from Lincoln Center)
  • Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse: nightclub-style venue; used for intimate concerts, “Meet the Artist” and Great Performers events, lectures, and other events where a small, intimate space is preferred; was also used for jazz performances prior to the construction of the new Jazz at Lincoln Center facilities

Resident organizations

Lincoln Center serves as home for 12 arts organizations:[10]

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. (LCPA) is one of the 12 resident organizations, and serves three primary roles: presenter of artistic programming, national leader in arts and education and community relations, and manager of the Lincoln Center campus. As a presenter of more than 400 events annually, its programs, known collectively as "Lincoln Center Presents", include American Songbook, Great Performers, Lincoln Center Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Midsummer Night Swing, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and the Emmy Award-winning Live from Lincoln Center.[10][11]

In July 2006, LCPA announced it will join with publishing company John Wiley & Sons to publish at least 15 books on performing arts, and will draw on Lincoln Center Institute’s educational background and archives.[12][dead link]


Main plaza at the Center.

Architects who designed buildings at Lincoln Center include:

Historical events

  • April 21, 1955: Lincoln Square designated for urban renewal.
  • June 22, 1956: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. incorporated.
  • May 14, 1959: Ground breaking ceremony with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • September 23, 1962: Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) opened. A two-hour live CBS special, Opening Night at Lincoln Center, preserved the event on videotape.
  • April 6, 1964: Lincoln Center Fountain opened.
  • April 23, 1964: New York State Theater opened.
  • October 14, 1965: Vivian Beaumont Theater and the Forum (now Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater) opened.
  • November 30, 1965: The Library & Museum of the Performing Arts opened.
  • September 16, 1966: The Metropolitan Opera House opened.
  • May 22, 1969: Damrosch Park and the Guggenheim Band Shell opened.
  • September 11, 1969: Alice Tully Hall opened.
  • October 26, 1969: Juilliard School opened.
  • October 19, 1976: Avery Fisher Hall re-opened after renovation to improve acoustics.
  • December 4, 1981: The Big Apple Circus performed at its winter home in Damrosch Park for the first time. The circus has performed every winter at Lincoln Center ever since.
  • September 7, 1982: New York State Theater re-opened after renovation to improve acoustics.
  • September 2, 1986: Former Jewish Defense League National Chairman Victor Vancier throws a tear gas grenade during a performance of Soviet ballet in the Metropolitan Opera House as a protest against the Soviet practice of not letting its Jews emigrate to Israel.
  • November 19, 1990: The Samuel B. and David Rose Building opened; houses the Walter Reade Theater, the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, the Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Rehearsal Studio, the Clark Studio Theater, and Juilliard School student residences, as well as office space for a number of the member organizations.
  • December 3, 1991: The Walter Reade Theater opened within the previously completed Samuel B. and David Rose Building.
  • July 12, 1997: The Paul Milstein Plaza dedicated.
  • October 18, 2004: Jazz at Lincoln Center opened.
  • March 2006: Preliminary construction on the West 65th Street Project begins
  • June 8, 2006: Plans for Lincoln Center to transform the nearby Harmony Atrium into a public space for the arts open to the public, neighbors, students, and Lincoln Center patrons are announced.
  • June 12, 2006: The Lincoln Center Promenade initiative to revitalize Lincoln Center's Columbus Avenue frontage and the iconic Josie Robertson Plaza is unveiled.
  • August 20, 2006: Paul Milstein Plaza dismantled as part of 65th Street Redevelopment project.
  • May 21, 2010: Renovation of central and north plazas unveiled.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b Rockefeller Philanthropy: Lincoln Center
  2. ^ a b Roth, Leland M. "American Architecture: A History", Westview Press, 2001.
  3. ^ Glenn Collins (May 11, 2009). "50 Years In, Center's Name is Still a Mystery". New York Times ( Retrieved November 15, 2010. 
  4. ^ The New York Times, Sunday, July 28, 1991, "Architecture View", Paul Goldberger.
  5. ^ The New Yorker, August 19, 1991, "The Skyline", Brendan Gill, Pages 57-60.
  6. ^ The New York Times, Sunday, July 28, 1991, "Architecture View", Paul Goldberger.
  7. ^ Institute For Urban Design), Project Monograph, November 1989, Vol. 2, No. 4, "Three Lincoln Center", Pearl Bosco.
  8. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (August 17, 2006). "On 65th Street, Glimpsing Lincoln Center’s Future". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  9. ^ "Transforming Lincoln Center" on Lincoln Center website
  10. ^ a b What is Lincoln Center, and what is a resident organization? Frequently Asked Questions: About Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  11. ^ About Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. (LCPA), About Lincoln Center and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. (LCPA). Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  12. ^ Kimberly Maul, "Wiley and Lincoln Center Dance Together", The Book Standard website, July 27, 2006
  13. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (May 20, 2010). "The Greening of Lincoln Center". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 

Further reading

  • Young, Edgar B. Lincoln Center: The Building of an Institution. New York: New York University Press, 1980.

External links

Coordinates: 40°46′20″N 73°59′00″W / 40.772311°N 73.983403°W / 40.772311; -73.983403

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