Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Opera House in New York City, New York

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Opera House in New York City, New York

Lincoln Center, NYC Photo © Santi

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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

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Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts (or Lincoln Center in short) is a large 16.3-acre building complex in the heart of Manhattan in New York City. It is located on Lincoln Square. This massive center has thirty indoor and outdoor performance facilities, such as theaters, concert hall, exhibitions halls, and movie theaters.

The Metropolitan Opera House (Wikipedia Article) is the home stage of the Metropolitan Opera and can house up to 3,900 guests. The New York City Ballet performs at the David H. Koch Theater, which has 2,713 seats. The 1,080-seat Broadway-style Vivian Beaumont Theater is the main stage of the Lincoln Center Theater and has previously hosted the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center and the New York Shakespeare Festival (1973-77). The New York Philharmonic has its home in the Avery Fisher Hall, a symphony hall with 2,738 seats.

These are only four of thirty performance halls, theater and buildings. The Lincoln Center truly is the beating heart of performing arts in New York City.


Lincoln Center was built by a group of investors and prominent people of New York City as art of the Lincoln Square Renewal Project in the 1950s and 60s. The initiative came from John D. Rockefeller III (Wikipedia Article). A host of renowned architect was taken aboard to design the new site’s main buildings. Lincoln Square transformed dramatically in the course of the following three decades.

It still remains unclear where the name comes from. While the center is obviously named for Lincoln Square, the history of the square’s name itself is obscure. The name was given to the area in 1906 by the New York City Board of Aldermen, but there is no record of the reason why. The name may refer to President Abraham Lincoln, but, again, no one is certain.

John D. Rockefeller III was the son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who had previously built the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Just like his father, he was also a philanthropist, raising more than 180 million USD in private funds to build the Lincoln Center. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund also helped fund the project. Rockefeller was the center’s president from 1956 and its chairman from 1961. The three main buildings of Lincoln Center – Avery Fisher Hall, David H. Koch Theater and Metropolitan Opera House – were opened between 1962 and 1964. The architect who designed the center’s master plan and the Metropolitan Opera House was Wallace Harrison. He tried out his design first in the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The new complex is located in the Upper West Side and extends from West 60th Street to West 66th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue. At its opening, the Lincoln Center became the first collection of major cultural institutions in any city in the United States.

Nowadays, the center also includes buildings located away from Lincoln Square. The center was expanded in 2004 with the addition of the Jazz at Lincoln Center facilities, which are located a couple blocks to the south. A redevelopment plan was launched in 2006 and completed in 2012. This was necessary to renovate and modernize the complex. This included construction of a brand new pedestrian promenade, making the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts a lot more accessible, the renovation of Alice Tully Hall, and the expansion of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

The Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts, Inc. is the largest presenter of performing arts in the world. This organization is actually one of eleven that reside at Lincoln Center. It manages around 5,000 annual programs, events and initiatives. Examples are Midsummer Night Swing, Live from Lincoln Center, American Songbook, Lincoln Center Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, and Great Performers.

Other organizations that have their headquarters at Lincoln Center are Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Film Society of Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, New York Library for the Performing Arts, and a few others.

Visiting Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Being such an enormous cultural center, the Lincoln Center has several performances every day. The selection is huge. In addition to artistic performances, there is also the opportunity to eat and shop. Most of the hall and theater have their own restaurant, bar and/or café. The surrounding area also has a wide range of eateries and places to have a drink.

The Lincoln Center has its own subway station, making it easily accessible from anywhere in New York City. Nearby attractions are the fantastic American Museum of Natural History, a fifteen-minute walk away, and Central Park.

Similar Landmarks

Other similar concert halls and theaters can be found all over the world: the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Royal Albert Hall in London, Sydney Opera House in Sydney, and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Nov 11, 2014

Pictures of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

All 88 Sing for Hope Pianos on Lincoln Center Plaza - Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
All 88 Sing for Hope Pianos on Lincoln Center Plaza - Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Shawn Hoke

Metropolitan Opera - Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Metropolitan Opera - Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Phil Davis


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