Lincoln Center, reckoning with its history

Posted on: January 3, 2022

“Long before Lincoln Center became one of the world’s foremost destinations for the performing arts, the land it sits on was at the heart of a thriving Black and Latino Upper West Side neighborhood,” writes Jennifer Vanasco in Thursday’s (12/30) Gothamist (NYC). “The federal 1949 Housing Act allowed local governments to take property through eminent domain … as long as they then built middle-class housing…. By the time the neighborhood was demolished [in the 1950s], the city moved 7,000 families and 800 businesses out of the area.… Lincoln Center was built specifically for performance companies that were bastions of white culture—the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, Juilliard, … and others… Leah Johnson, Lincoln Center’s chief of communications, marketing and advocacy, said she remembers visiting the plaza with her family as a child to take photos…. But, she said, because they were a Black family in New York, they didn’t believe it was a place for them…. Johnson and CEO [Henry] Timms … want Lincoln Center to be known as a ‘civic’ center—a place where people can gather, but also access resources … Internal discussions are underway about how to make tickets, which can be quite expensive, more equitable.”