Reynold Levy, president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
The story of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is intimately tied to New York's urban renewal efforts developed under urban planner Robert Moses between the 1940s and 1960s. The idea of creating a premiere arts and cultural complex was initially conceived by John D. Rockefeller III, along with a group of civic leaders, as part of redevelopment plans for the blighted Lincoln Square neighborhood of New York's Upper West Side. Groundbreaking for the complex took place in 1959 with President Eisenhower wielding the first shovel of dirt.
The idea behind Lincoln Center was to bring the city's major performing arts institutions into a centralized location with inspired glass and limestone architecture to match the prominence of its constituent groups. Today, the 16-acre facility is home to 12 major arts organizations including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet and the Juilliard School.
In March 2007, construction began on a billion-dollar redevelopment of Lincoln Center to modernize its performance halls and public spaces. Currently in the works are a redesigned central plaza with new pedestrian access and bars and restaurants to encourage patrons to linger longer; and a new Alice Tully Hall with state-of-the-art acoustic and stage design, and new rehearsal spaces for artists. The two projects are slated to be completed in 2009 in time for Lincoln Center's 50th anniversary.