Carnegie Hall Highlights | TopView

Carnegie Hall

Location: 881 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019

The city has an abundance of concert halls, but none is quite so storied as Carnegie Hall New York. Musicians of all walks and genres—Russian composer Tchaikovsky, rapper Jay Z, songstress Judy Garland and the Beatles—have entertained crowds in the venerable space; indeed, playing the venue looms as something of an unspoken benchmark in many artists' careers. The Italian Renaissance–style building—with a brick-and-terra-cotta facade and, in its main auditorium, plush red seats, impeccable acoustics and open design (there's no curtain, for a start)—has also hosted politicians, authors, comedians and religious leaders for more than a century.

A bit of Carnegie Hall history: industrial tycoon Andrew Carnegie first conceived of the concert hall in 1887 while on his honeymoon voyage to Scotland. After returning to the States, Carnegie hired the architect (and cellist) William Burnet Tuthill, to design the venue. As his wife laid the cornerstone, Carnegie declared, "It is probable that this hall will intertwine itself with the history of our country." He wasn't wrong.

The hall invited Tchaikovsky for its May 1891 opening—and his American debut. The composer sold out all five nights; according to lore, ushers were sneaking people in for $1.50. But Carnegie didn't want performances restricted to just classical music. Prominent figures like Mark Twain, Billie Holiday and Winston Churchill came to read, perform and orate. By the end of the 1950’s, however, Carnegie Hall had begun to fall into disrepair, the resident New York Philharmonic was preparing to depart for (then under construction) Lincoln Center and a date was even set for the venue's demolition. In 1960 the City stepped in and saved it. Designated a landmark two years later, Carnegie Hall concerts have been attracting top musical acts and the venue has been hosting community-based educational programs ever since.

Some fun facts:

• The architect, William Burnet Tuthill had never designed a concert hall before this; in fact, he hadn't designed many buildings at all (the 1889 Demarest Building, on Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street, bears similarities to Carnegie Hall and is sometimes misattributed to him).

• In some backstage areas, you can still see the original rock that was there when the foundation was built in the late 1800s.

• J. K. Rowling "outed" Dumbledore at Carnegie Hall during her Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book tour.

• Simplicity is the key to the design—and the acoustics—with gentle curves, no chandeliers and very little gold or marble in the main hall.

• In the museum, you can find an autographed program by The Beatles and a signed booklet by Martin Luther King Jr.

• Completed in 1896, the Towers over the Hall were designated as residences for working artists and housed the likes of Marlon Brando and Leonard Bernstein. In 2010, after a three-year battle, remaining residents were moved out to make way for offices and classrooms.

You can check out the Carnegie Hall calendar and it is highly recommended to purchase Carnegie Hall tickets in advance.

It’s easy to get to Carnegie Hall. Hop on our Uptown and Harlem Tour and hop off at Stop #29 for Carnegie Hall.


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This page was edited by Steven Thomas