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Neighborhood Guide: Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts

It’s become such an integral part of the Upper West Side, and of New York City as a whole, that today it’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without it. Yet 50 years ago, even the concept behind Lincoln Center–the bringing together of the high performing arts, the opera, the ballet, the symphony orchestra, onto one grand campus–was seen as a bold experiment, with not a few risks. Today, of course, Lincoln Center is the comfortable home of many of New York City’s great cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, the Lincoln Center Theater, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and the renowned Julliard School of Music. Adding to the luster of this already-shining Upper West Side jewel: the entire complex has all been spruced-up and renovated for its 50th Birthday celebration this year.

The centerpiece of the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts campus, both literally and iconically, is the grand Revson Fountain. Originally designed by the legendary Philip Johnson, and the “star” of dozens of movies and TV shows set in New York City, the fountain, to the dismay of some observers, was ripped out as part of the renovation, replaced by a seek new model, capable of choreographed watershows, courtesy of WET, the firm behind the spectacular waterworks at the Las Vegas Bellagio, as well as the more low-key (but quite lovely) terraced fountains at the new Columbus Circle. Our opinion? Count us as fans. The new fountain is beautifully lit, appropriately elegant, interactive in the sense that you can sit on the ring itself, and, well… it’s all just a little bit more fun than the original.

Other recently unveiled redesigns and renovations include a new Hearst Plaza (formerly, the North Plaza) and Illumination Lawn; the modernization of the David Koch Theater, formerly known as the New York State Theater and the shared home of the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera; and the terrific new David Rubenstein Atrium, a 7,000-square-foot public space, between Broadway and Columbus, and 62nd and 63rd Streets, with a centralized box office, plenty of comfortable seating, free wi-fi, food via Chef Tom Colicchio’s great ‘wichcraft, and free weekly performances. As far as the rest of the campus, it all looks beautiful, as bright and sparkling as it’s been in a long time. And with nearly 5 million visitors a year, that is as it should be.

For a look at all the events and performances going on at Lincoln Center right now, please see their website, here.


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