Big Apple: Lincoln Center and Mockingbird

By Susan B. Apel

Who snagged a private, early Sunday morning tour of Lincoln Center? Rolling Stone Keith Richards. Not me. I was in the regular Saturday afternoon tour group that included my three friends from high school, a couple from Burlington VT, a businessman from London, and a 2nd-grader doing research for a school report. It turned out to be one of the best things to do in New York City, a place where your brain can positively ache with the possibilities for how to spend a weekend.

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Fun facts (only some) from the tour of Lincoln Center (pictured above): 

1. Lincoln Center was designed by the same architect (Wallace Harrison) who designed our own Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College. See the resemblance? 

2. West Side Story was filmed there.  Before the neighborhood was razed as part of an urban renewal project to build the Center, several scenes for the movie feature the then-condemned buildings as a backdrop to the Jerome Robbins choreography of Jets and Sharks dancing in the streets. 

3. Juilliard, the music school, is part of Lincoln Center. Lady Gaga went there. Robin Williams was expelled for misbehaving. 

Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure

4. Lincoln Center is an art museum. In addition to all of the performing arts—theater, opera, symphony and chamber music, dance—there are many works of visual art, like the famous Henry Moore sculpture (above) in one of the outdoor courtyards.  Look for Jasper Johns’ Numbers; it contains choreographer Merce Cunningham’s footprint. 

5. Lincoln Center is not named for President Abraham Lincoln. It is thought the name was that of a local landowner, though records are not quite clear.

The tour is about an hour and 15 minutes, costs $25 ($20 for seniors), and tickets can be purchased online. Kim Rancourt, himself a rock musician, was a tour guide par excellence. Ask for him. 

And, if you are headed to NYC and tickets are available, I recommend the Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Jeff Daniels is an Atticus Finch for our era, Calpurnia, his refashioned, sibling-like housekeeper is played by LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and scary/not scary Boo Radley (Danny Wolohan) makes an appearance. Still, the story, as always, belongs to (Celia Keenan-Bolger’s) Scout.

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