Skip to main content

A Visit to Lincoln Center, In Progress

From Winter 2009

I know what you're thinking. Isn't that Holly Golightly there above, centered in the photo of the photo, awaiting the opening of the completely renovated Lincoln Center? Do you think she is excited about a night at the Metropolitan Opera, a place far away from her gritty roots in Tulip, Texas? Yes, of course. New York glamour lives on.

I'm not one to take organized tours. I tend to wander off and ask too many questions, but for some places, that's the only way to go. On Wednesday I had every intention of traveling to Lincoln Center (vicinity of E. 64th @ Broadway) to hear a concert at the lovely redesigned Alice Tully Hall, but I was running too late. So, I made my reservation for a tour of the center yesterday, Thursday, at 11 a.m. In my befuddled state, I had expected that Tully Hall would be part of the tour (no doubt confusing it with Avery Fisher Hall), which it was not, but as you'll read later, things worked out anyway.

Yesterday, I checked in at the Avery Fisher tour desk at a little before eleven, and shortly thereafter, a tall, congenial man met about a dozen of us and guided us through the maze of construction, pounding hammers, and plywood that is the current state of Lincoln Center.

It's a little disconcerting to see the center torn up like this, but amazing sights await inside (but no pictures allowed inside these hallowed halls.) Our first stop was the vast interior of the Metropolitan Opera, making our way through the labyrinth of the stage door entrance to a technical booth facing the stage. Looking out onto the stage, we watched for a few minutes the Met company rehearsing La Sonnambula ("The Sleepwalker") by Vincenzo Bellini, and we could monitor the sounds of the lighting designers setting their cues. The guide apologized in advance for any coarse language we may overhear. As someone who writes about walking in waking moments, I was naturally fascinated by the opera's story. Natalie Dessay stars, and Mary Zimmerman directs this production, modernized and Pirandello-ized (set at a rehearsal of the opera), and we could watch them both from the booth. We were in fact watching a rehearsal of a rehearsal, a confusing spectacle that appealed to my sense of the absurd.

The tour continued to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre (above, inset), where we sat in the rows facing the stage. Currently home to South Pacific, the theater, we learned, is vast and deep, in addition to being configured unusually with its large three-quarter stage. From there, we made our way back out onto the plaza and to the New York State Theater, home to the New York City Ballet (inset). Taking an elevator to a higher floor, we sat in the nose-bleed seats and watched a little of the ballet company rehearsing the dazzling piece Mercurial Maneovres, part of their 21st Century Movement program. Sitting so high up we could see the patterns of choreography but still appreciate the lithe moves of these young dancers. What a great sound - the patter of toe shoes on an empty stage! From there, our guide took us to the seats of Avery Fisher Hall, the home of the New York Philharmonic, where no one, alas, was rehearsing. Still, it was nice to sit in the balcony and imagine the music.

After the tour ended, I walked across the street to Alice Tully Hall. While I wasn't able to go into the Starr Theater, I enjoyed walking around and contemplating this soaring new space. A cafe is open for business inside the lobby, and it's a beautiful place to sit even when there's no plan for a concert. Because I'm an architecture geek, I immediately recognized the architect, Liz Diller, standing outside the hall. I went up to her and introduced myself (God and Texas did not make me shy) and thanked her for this wonderful gift to the city.

Information: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Daily tours between 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. See Lincoln Center website with more information on tours and times. Special 20-minute tours of Tully Hall, March 8-21, for $5.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple, February 26, 2009. More pix of Alice Tully Hall on Flickr WOTBA.

See the companion walk, A Walk From Lincoln Center to Zabar's.

Comments

Anonymous said…
the other day I realized I have never been there yet... next time !
and "God and Texas did not make me shy" is a great line, by the way :)

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north.  Near Beacon, a view of autumn colors from the Metro-North Hudson line One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red.  Autumn light in Hastings-on-Hudson Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.   Autumn leaves on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Hastings Still, October is a gr

A Walk in the Forest Primeval

Contemplating the fall of civilizations in Inwood Hill Park At times, it feels like we’re living at the end of civilization. With the arrival of the global pandemic, many governing structures are teetering at a breaking point, one measured in graphs, curves, and waves. Whole systems like mass transit and global trade are fractured as well. Steps leading to a high ridge trail in Inwood Hill Park Most threatened are our social arrangements, the ones in which most of us were socialized. The norms of human interaction are shockingly in tatters these days. Just three months ago, it was normal to hang out with others in person without worrying if being in one another’s presence would cause illness or possibly death. Political and economic structures are teetering, with a critical collapse of what was once known as the public space. A Baltimore Oriole visits a tree near the main entrance of Inwood Hill Park on Seaman Avenue. It’s easy to imagine a swift evacuation of once pr

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City. View of the Hudson River from the Keeper's House The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington. Recommended purchase - a map det

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church