Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center

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The world's largest performing arts center, Lincoln Center is situated in New York City. The 16.3-acre cultural complex serves as a home for 12 organizations - the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Juilliard School of Music, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., the Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the School of American Ballet. The center was built with the intention to develop and present all types of performing arts to a diverse audience.The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is devoted to the outstanding performance and creation of chamber music. Best known for world-class international festivals, the Film Society of Lincoln Center offers the best in world cinema to a discerning film going audience.Jazz at Lincoln Center is the world's largest not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to jazz. Concerts, national and international tours, residencies, recordings, and jazz band competitions are organized by Jazz personnel.The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, also called Lincoln Center Presents, offers Petrushka performed by puppets, television programs, and an amazing range of classical, contemporary, and innovative performing arts events.One of America's favorite not-for-profit theaters, Lincoln Center Theater presents information on productions, box office, membership, and a gallery. In addition, it provides educational programs.Juilliard, established in 1926 by Augustus Julliard, is dedicated to educating talented performing musicians, dancers, and actors. Highest quality performance of opera featuring the foremost singers, conductors, stage directors, and designers are presented by The Metropolitan Opera.Another resident organization of the Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet is one of the leading dance companies in the world. It gives training to artists and provides a variety of enrichment programs to help audiences improve their knowledge about the art form.The New York City Opera is an apt place to go for refreshingly unique entertainment. The New York Philharmonic is famous for its performance of the classical symphonic repertoire.An extensive combination of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections are housed in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Training for students preparing for professional careers in ballet is offered in the School of American Ballet.The Lincoln Center Institute, provides a distinctive approach to the arts and education. The institute mainly focuses on works of art including dance, music, theater, visual arts, and architecture.Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House, the New York State Theater, and the Vivian Beaumont Theater are among a few of the venues in Lincoln Center complex.The American Songbook, Great Performers, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Midsummer Night Swing, the Lincoln Center Festival, and the Mozart Festival are events worth mentioning at the Lincoln Center.In addition to the above, the Lincoln Center offers a wide range of special events. The gallery at Lincoln Center presents numerous art exhibitions which provide a brief glance into contemporary art.A wide range of community programs are offered at the Lincoln Center, as well. Dining and a wide variety of shopping facilities are provided at the Lincoln Center.

Holiday Closures

Facility and Registration Desk Closures

1/1, 4/2, 5/31, 7/5, 9/6, 11/25-11/28, 12/24-12/27, 12/31

Parking Lot Information
Please note that the Lincoln Center parking lot is utilized by The Foxtail restaurant for valet parking (in partnership with the Grove Foundation)

Saturday: 5pm to close and Sunday: Noon to close

Once the historic Lincoln School from 1867 - 1974, the building was purchased by the Park District and renovated to what is now the Lincoln Community Center. Located on the south side of Maple Avenue between Washington Street and Main Street, this six level, multi-use building is home to the District's Lincoln Learning Center Preschool, The Link Before and After School Program and Adult Center. The convenient downtown location makes it the perfect place for business meetings, seminars and group gatherings.

The building contains the registration office, meeting rooms, art and ceramic rooms, a small gymnasium, various classrooms, an auditorium, and newly remodeled kitchen facilities. Most spaces are available for rental on a seasonal basis.

West Side Story: The Making of Lincoln Center

Warm up the orchestra, lace up your dance slippers, and bring the diva to the stage! For our latest show we’re telling the origin story of Lincoln Center, the fine arts campus which assembles some of the city’s finest music and theatrical institutions to create the classiest 16.3 acres in New York City.

Lincoln Center was created out of an urgent necessity, bringing together the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet , the Metropolitan Opera , the Julliard School and other august fine-arts companies as a way of providing a permanent home for American culture.

However this tale of Robert Moses urban renewal philosophies and the survival of storied institutions has a tragic twist. The campus sits on the site of a former neighborhood named San Juan Hill, home to thousands of African American and Puerto Rican families in the mid 20 th century. No trace of this neighborhood exists today.

Or, should we say, ALMOST no trace. San Juan Hill exists, at least briefly, with a part of classic American cinema. The Oscar-winning film West Side Story, based on the celebrated musical, was partially filmed here. The movie reflects many realities of the neighborhood and involves talents who would be, ahem, instrumental in Lincoln Center’s continued successes.

FEATURING Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price, James Earl Jones, Imelda Marcos, David Geffen and, naturally, the Nutcracker!

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The Metropolitan Opera House, in 1904. In the far distance, you see One Times Square being constructed in Longacre Square.

The New York City Ballet had its first home at City Center while the New York Philharmonic was housed for decades at Carnegie Hall.

Lincoln Square, 1920. This picture is actually taken from the spot where Lincoln Center stands today. The triangular plaza pictured here would later be called Dante Park (a statue to the Italian writer would be placed here a year after this photo was taken). Take note of the 9th Avenue elevated streaking up Columbus Avenue at the bottom of this image.

Arthur Hosking/Museum of the City of New York

And that building to the right? That’s the Hotel Empire which is still standing there today (albeit in a greatly modified form). Here’s an ad for the Empire from 1909.

Robert Moses’ slum clearance plan for San Juan Hill, published in 1956.

Scenes from old San Juan Hill — 1932, 65th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

1939 — the stoop scene in San Juan Hill, street unknown

Courtesy MCNY Lee Sievan (1907-1990). San Juan Hill. 1939

An early effort to improve the housing quality in the neighborhood — the Phipps Houses, built in 1906. An interesting New York Times article describes a few residents: “A typical tenant was the steamboat steward Joseph Craig, 36, classed as ‘mulatto’, who was born in Trinidad and arrived in the United States in 1891. Another was the horse breeder Daniel Moore, 43, born in Missouri and married for six years to Tilly Moore, 30, born in Cuba and in the United States since 1892 she worked as a domestic.”


The scene in April of 1963. The Philharmonic Hall was already opened by this point. This really brings home the fact that there must have been so much noise pollution due to construction which must have perturbed the organizers of the Philharmonic greatly!


The opening sequence of the Oscar-winning film West Side Story was filmed on the streets of San Juan Hill, the structures around the actors clearly boarded up and ready for demolition.

(The website Tom mentioned on the show — Pop Spots NYC — shows a very detailed comparison of film scenes with maps and old photographs. Highly recommended!)

An overhead view of Lincoln Center in 1969 with most of the major venues completed by this point. At the bottom right you see the Empire Hotel, then (moving clockwise around the fountain): the New York State Theater, Damrosch Park, the Metropolitan Opera House, the library and the Vivian Beaumont Theater and Philharmonic Hall.

Getty Images

Philharmonic Hall, later Avery Fisher Hall, then David Geffen Hall — designed by Max Abramovitz.


The Metropolitan Opera House, designed by Wallace Harrison.

MCNY/Edmund Vincent Gillon

The New York State Theater, later the David H. Koch Theater.

Jackie Kennedy attending the opening night of Philharmonic Hall, September 23, 1962.

Opening night at the New York State Theater, April 24, 1964


Patricia McBride and Edward Villella in front of the unfinished New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, in Tarantella costume, choreography by George Balanchine, 1964

Patricia Wilde and Andre Prokovsky in Raymonda posing in front of fountain in plaza at Lincoln Center, choreography by George Balanchine, 1965

Courtesy NYPL

Program from the 1967 revival of South Pacific which played at the New York State Theatre……


….starring Florence Henderson as Nellie Forbush! Here she is with Richard Rodgers and Georgio Tozzi (who played Emile de Becque).


The plaza at Lincoln Center is always a place where surprises greet visitors. Here’s an image from a couple years ago of a video installation which sat in front of the fountain:

And a couple years ago they hosted the premiere of Game of Thrones. With a life-size dragon!

Martin Scorsese! He introduced a screening of his film The Age of Innocence at the New York Film Festival.

How Lincoln Center Was Built (It Wasn’t Pretty)

A. Lincoln Center was the crown-jewel project of the Mayor’s Committee on Slum Clearance, which was overseen by Robert Moses, the man who reshaped the city in the mid-20th century. The “urban renewal” plan, which leveled 18 city blocks on the Upper West Side, also included educational, commercial and residential facilities.

The project displaced more than 7,000 lower-class families and 800 businesses. Few, if any, of the 4,400 new housing units were intended for the area’s previous residents, who were almost exclusively black and Hispanic. Even worse, the relocation assistance promised by the committee never materialized.

“Moses was not making even a pretense of creating new homes for the families displaced,” Robert A. Caro wrote in “The Power Broker,” the Pulitzer-winning biography of the planning czar’s life and career.

Many of these evicted New Yorkers instead crammed into other low-income areas like Harlem and parts of the Bronx, deepening the rift of segregation and, ironically, creating new slums in a different part of the city.

“Slum clearance has increased overcrowding among the lowest income groups low-cost public housing has often created new ghettos,” said James R. Dumpson, the city’s first black welfare commissioner, in a 1959 speech.

Before President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground on the new project in 1959, the neighborhood, called Lincoln Square, was a vibrant one. It was here that James P. Johnson introduced the Charleston, the dance craze of the 1920s, and Thelonious Monk perfected his bebop style of jazz. It was also incredibly crowded: as many as 5,000 people lived on a single block.

The area was informally known as San Juan Hill, possibly in honor of a black cavalry who fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

More likely, the name came from the violent street battles that often broke out along Amsterdam Avenue, which was a racial dividing line: whites to the east, blacks to the west, many of whom lived in a sunken area called “The Gut” on West End Avenue.

“The feeling between the two is always hostile,” The Times wrote in 1905 of the two neighboring groups. “It comes out on this borderland.”

After World War II, Puerto Ricans began moving to the neighborhood. Leonard Bernstein based the “Sharks” in “West Side Story” on this group the opening scene of the 1961 film adaptation was recorded in the ruins of Lincoln Square.

The city had already targeted San Juan Hill for redevelopment once, evicting more than 1,100 families, most of them black, across three blocks to build the Amsterdam Houses in 1948.

By the late 1950s, the Metropolitan Opera had outgrown its home on 39th Street Fordham University in the Bronx wanted a satellite campus near midtown Manhattan and the New York Philharmonic was about to be evicted from Carnegie Hall. All three looked to Moses for help.

As they had in other parts of the city, notably the Lower East Side, Moses and his Committee on Slum Clearance used a provision of a federal program to claim this land through eminent domain. The law, Title I of the 1949 Housing Act, gave federal backing to “urban renewal” projects that created middle-class housing.

The 16.3-acre Lincoln Center campus was inaugurated in 1962 the remainder of the project was completed by 1969.

Lincoln Center - History

Since 1951

Let's Start at the Beginning

Lincoln Center began more than 60 years ago as the dream of Greenlaw Grupe, Roy Sims and four other men of extraordinary foresight. Their vision for north Stockton included a complete planned community with homes, schools, churches, recreation and commercial areas. The founders of Lincoln Center acquired 1,800 acres from Stockton business leader Benjamin Holt and formed a corporation called Lincoln Properties, Inc. Stock in the new corporation sold out in only two weeks. More than 700 homes had been constructed by the end of 1951, followed by the opening of Lincoln Center.

The Center opened with 25,000 square feet of space that housed 16 neighborhood stores.

Demand was so great that ten additional stores were soon added to the complex at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Benjamin Holt Drive.

Today, Lincoln Center – marked by the ‘Big L’ – is located on both sides of Benjamin Holt Drive and is approximately 35 acres. More than ninety merchants operate retail stores, restaurants and service businesses, many of which are locally owned and family-operated.

These merchants are dedicated to quality and service and are proud to be part of the second oldest shopping center west of the Mississippi. Lincoln Center and its merchants play an active role in giving back to the community, supporting numerous charitable causes and organizations that make a difference in San Joaquin county.

The shopping center is an integral part of Stockton’s history and, with Lincoln Center’s excellent management and commitment to the community, the ‘Big L’ is certain to shine above Stockton for many more years to come.

Accessibility at Lincoln Center

Fordham University, The Bronx, 1841

Early view of St. John's College (Fordham University). Our University Church is on the far left in the background, and Cunniffe House on the right.

In 1841, John Hughes, the Catholic bishop of New York, originally opened St. Johns College at Rose Hill, in the village of Fordham, then part of Westchester County, and later, The Bronx of New York City. In 1846, a group of Jesuits moved from Kentucky to run the young college on the condition of being allowed to open a church and school in the city proper.

Fordham in Manhattan, 1847

Fordham at Woolworth building

While Fordham College at Lincoln Center was founded in 1968, the college has a lengthy prehistory, dating to the mid-19th century. In September 1847, the University opened a school on Manhattan's Lower East Side near the edge of the notorious Five Points neighborhood. A devastating fire just a few months later forced the new school to move to the basement of St. James Catholic Church. In the following years, the school operated in the East Village, on West 15th Street from 1850, and by the early 20th century, the Woolworth Building, then the world's tallest building, from 1916 to 1943. Then the Vincent Building at 302 Broadway served as the home for Fordham in Manhattan from 1943 to 1968.

Fordham College at Lincoln Center, 1968

From left to right, Joseph Martino (Trustee), the Reverend Laurence McGinley SJ (President), William Hughes Mulligan (Dean of the law school)

In 1955, Fordham was the first city institution to commit to be part of the Lincoln Square Renewal Project, an effort to revitalize the city's west side with a new performing arts complex that would become the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In 1961, Fordham Law School was the first building to open as part of the renewal project, and in 1968, Fordham College at Lincoln Center welcomed its first students. In 1969, the University opened the Lowenstein Center, which became home to Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Since 1968, the school's name has changed from "The Liberal Arts College" to "The College at Lincoln Center" to "Fordham College at Lincoln Center." In 1993, a 20-story residence hall, McMahon Hall, was added to the campus, along with other campus improvements.

Fordham College at Lincoln Center, 21st Century

During the last 45 years, the college has had a remarkable record of achievement, including alumni who have gone on to outstanding careers as stars of stage and screen, as writers and producers, as financial and business leaders, as practitioners of law, medicine, and religion, and as political and civic leaders. In 2014, Fordham opened a state-of-the-art residence hall on the 11th through 22nd floor of McKeon Hall. McKeon Hall, with its towering views of Manhattan and surrounding areas, is specifically designed to foster community among its residents, the first-year class. In 2017 the Lincoln Center campus unveiled a new bronze ram statue designed to mirror the one located on the Rose Hill campus. Both statues were created by sculptor Harry M. Stierwalt Jr. and display the beloved Fordham ram mascot.


Lincoln Square is located on the site of San Juan Hill, a predominantly African American neighborhood of tenements. [2] San Juan Hill was generally bordered by Amsterdam Avenue to the east, West End Avenue to the west, 59th Street to the south, and 65th Street to the north. It has been suggested that the area was named after the 10th Cavalry that fought with Theodore Roosevelt at the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish–American War, but this is not certain. [2] It was possibly the most heavily populated African-American neighborhood in Manhattan in the early 20th century. [3] One of the blocks within the neighborhood contained almost 5,000 residents. [2]

Notable residents had included Thelonious Monk, who came to live here in 1922. In addition to the significant African American community, there was also an Afro-Caribbean community there, which has left its traces in the Bye-ya and Bemsha Swing compositions of Thelonious Monk, co-written much later with Denzil Best, who also grew up in this neighborhood. [4] James P. Johnson also lived in the neighborhood in the 1910s and 1920s, during which time he created the "Charleston" dance. [5]

In 1940, the New York City Housing Authority characterized the area as "the worst slum section in the City of New York" and made plans to renew the area by demolishing the old tenements. The Amsterdam Housing Projects were built on the cleared land in 1948, replacing three blocks that had collectively housed 1,100 residents. [6] [3]

During the 1950s and 1960s, a consortium of civic leaders and others led by John D. Rockefeller III built the Lincoln Center as part of the "Lincoln Square Renewal Project" during urban planner Robert Moses's program of urban renewals. [7] Respected architects were contracted to design the major buildings on the site, and construction started in 1959. [8] Over the next thirty years the previously blighted area around Lincoln Center became a new cultural hub. [9] Over 7,700 residents were displaced during the redevelopment project. [10] The new developments contained 4,400 housing units, of which only a few were allocated to San Juan Hill's former residents. [11] Most of the area's former residents instead moved to Harlem, another predominantly African American neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, as well as the Bronx. [2] [12]

Name Edit

Lincoln Center was named after Lincoln Square. The reason for naming the area "Lincoln Square" is unknown, however. The name was bestowed on the area in 1906 by the New York City Board of Aldermen, but records give no reason for choosing that name. [1]

There has long been speculation that the name came from a local landowner, because the square was previously named Lincoln Square. City records from the time show only the names Johannes van Bruch, Thomas Hall, Stephan de Lancey, James de Lancey, James de Lancey Jr. and John Somerindyck as area property owners.

The area may also have been named as a tribute to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. One speculation is that references to President Lincoln were omitted from the records because the mayor in 1906 was George B. McClellan Jr., son of General George B. McClellan who was general-in-chief of the Union Army during the American Civil War and a bitter rival of Lincoln. [13]

Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Lincoln Square was 61,489, an increase of 6,250 (11.3%) from the 55,239 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 371.00 acres (150.14 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 165.7 inhabitants per acre (106,000/sq mi 40,900/km 2 ). [14]

As of the 2010 Census, the racial makeup of the neighborhood was 73.4% (45,103) White, 4.4% (2,710) African American, 0.1% (58) Native American, 11.2% (6,916) Asian, 0.0% (14) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (175) from other races, and 1.9% (1,196) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.6% (5,317) of the population. [15]

American Civilization

Today, Lincoln Center exists as one of the world's premier performance venues, a home to the New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, and the Metropolitan Opera, among other world-renowned performance troupes. While the Center's notoriety may lend it a certain timeless quality, construction of the site only began a mere fifty-two years ago. Before President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground on the construction site in 1959, the land and its immediate surroundings were home to over 7000 residents of the neighborhood then called Lincoln Square. This transformation from so-called slum to cultural center is a prime example of the urban gentrification led by developer Robert Moses throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, it brings into focus the attitudes of city government towards racial and ethnic minorities during post-war era, and the effect of these attitudes on public policy at large.

Between 1950 and 1957, New York City lost over 750,000 white middle class inhabitants to the suburbs (Dodson, 1960). During the same period of time, the city witnessed a vast migration of black and Puerto Rican residents, totaling over 650,000 new Manhattan residents of these ethnic minorities (Dodson, 1960). In order to curb this rapid change in racial demographics, the city's government began to heavily employ the powers it was granted by the Housing Act of 1949, which included extended eminent domain to over densely populated areas deemed “slums” (“Slum Clearance,” 2005). After Robert Moses, a famed developer and close friend of New York Senator Robert Taft and Mayor Robert Wagner, named himself the chairman of the New York City Slum Clearance Committee that was warranted by Title I of the Housing Act of 1949, he began a city-wide push to rid the metropolis of the dense slums populated largely by black and Hispanic residents, and create more attractions to bring back the city's white middle class (“Slum Clearance,” 2005). One such effort was Lincoln Center, a proposed cultural center that would be made more accessible to white commuters via massive highways and parking lots. In order to create this cultural center, however, Moses faced one obstacle: the residents of Lincoln Square.

Before Moses proposed the site for the new Lincoln Center, the plot of land from West 59th Street to West 72nd Street between Central Park and the Hudson River was home to one of the largest black and Hispanic communities in Manhattan (Strausbaugh, 2008). It's center, San Juan Hill, is known as the birthplace of bebop and the Charleston, as well as the hometown of Thelonius Monk (Strausbaugh, 2008). The cultural history of Lincoln Square and San Juan Hill leading up to the construction of Lincoln Center are explored in depth in the following multimedia edition of The New York Times' Weekend Explorer from February 2008. Particularly interesting are the sections about the neighborhood's background (start through 3:07), interviews about Thelonius Monk (4:03 through 4:36), and childhood in San Juan Hill (6:12 through 6:45).

The community was so well known as Manhattan's center of black and Hispanic life that it served as the setting for the opening sequence of the film West Side Story (of course, as it's Hollywood of the late 1950s, all the hired extras are white).

Lincoln Square was composed mostly of tenement houses and industrial warehouses, and thus suffered a very densely packed population often described as a "honeycomb," the neighborhood at its most congested held about 5000 tenants per square block (Strausbaugh, 2008). By 1955, Moses deemed the area a "blighted slum," and began proposing its demolition as part of an urban renewal effort ("Lincoln Square", 2009). Moses suggested an arts center in its place, promising new buildings to both the New York Philharmonic, Julliard, and the Metropolitan Opera ("Lincoln Square," 2009). In 1956, Moses appointed John D. Rockefeller III the president of the forthcoming Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, who assisted with the expedition the Lincoln Square urban renewal process both financially and through his powers of influence ("Lincoln Square," 2009).

A 1956 excerpt from the Lincoln Square Slum Clearance Program, released by Moses' Slum Clearance Committee

While the residents of Lincoln Square were able to resist by bringing their case to all the way to the Supreme Court, they were unable to undermine Moses' power of eminent domain that allowed him to demolish the neighborhood (Strausbaugh, 2008). Thus, when the Court approved the takeover of sixty-seven acres of land on July 1 st , 1958, city officials instated a forced relocation plan among residents of Lincoln Square, dedicating July of 1958 through October of 1961 to the relocate about 3000 families and make way for Lincoln Center (Dodson, 1960). While the inhabitants were offered priority housing at a cooperative built in conjunction with the Lincoln Center project, not one of them accepted instead, they found their own housing in other neighborhoods (52.7% of residents), were assigned apartments by the sponsors of Lincoln Center (28.4%), moved into public housing (11.6%), or left their apartments abandoned without any notice (7.3%) (Dodson, 1960). Most families were relocated to what Dan W. Dodson refers to as “neighborhoods in flux”—in other words, other densely packed slums that were mostly populated by poor laborers of color—such as Harlem and certain areas of the Bronx (Dodson, 1960).

Proposed Lincoln Square Urban Renewal Plan, 1958

On May 14, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground on the construction site of Lincoln Center, in an elaborate ceremony attended by thousands and covered by television and radio media ("Groundbreaking," 2009). The ceremony, which included performances by opera stars Risë Stevens (seen here singing Carmen's habanera) and Leonard Warren (seen here singing the notoriously challenging "Largo al Factotum" from "The Barber of Seville"), as well as the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, marked the beginning of construction for Lincoln Center.

Dwight D. Eisenhower making that first dig, 1959

Under the design of architect Max Abromovitz of Harrison & Abromovitz, laborers spent the following three years constructing Philharmonic Hall (now called Avery Fisher Hall), the iconic main building of Lincoln Center ("Philharmonic," 2009). The hall was accompanied by a parking garage, created to bring in white suburban commuters from nearby New Jersey and Connecticut. On September 23, 1962, the Hall opened with a gala concert attended by Jackie and John F. Kennedy, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk ("Philharmonic," 2009). Over the next forty-two years, Lincoln Center would continue to grow, building the New York State Theater, the Metropolitan Opera House, Alice Tully Hall, and the Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, and becoming one of the most renowned arts center.

In the comparison of the demolition of Lincoln Square and the construction of Lincoln Center, a question can be put forward: was it worth it? Was the destruction of one cultural center worth the much more renowned success of another? While Moses' actions concerning Lincoln Square may be in part a result of the racism of himself and his fellow city government officials--not to mention a contributing factor to the consolidation of blacks and Hispanics in Harlem and areas in the outer boroughs--they still were the cause of the return of those with high income to Manhattan. And, as the argument follows, with income comes industry, with industry comes jobs, and with more jobs, a greater number of people are able to maintain at least a decent standard of living. Moses' use of eminent domain to transform a minority neighborhood into an elite cultural center geared towards the white and wealthy may not have been exactly ethical (or, at the very least, politically correct by modern standards), but it was essential to bringing back capital to New York City.

Lincoln Center - History

On June 25th, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. This, as well as with events in China and the Soviet Union, sparked an American military build-up. This also begins the story of Cold War Lincoln Air Force Base. By January 1951 the Air Force was considering use of the former World War II airfield for Strategic Air Command, itself a newcomer to Offutt AFB in Omaha only a few short years before. The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce pursued re-activation vigorously and soon found a voice in Nebraska senator Kenneth Wherry who in turn fought for activation. By January 1952 the bill authorizing funds for Lincoln Air Force Base was thought assured until wording disappeared from the congressional appropriation bill. Only an envoy of Lincoln residents and its mayor were between re-activation and failure, lobbying only hours before the vote. In June 1952 the bill passed and by October the Air Force put reactivation into high gear. The 4120th Air Base Group had been operating with a small staff since February 21, 1952 and now oversaw the activation.

The city of Lincoln desired the return of the base so eagerly that they re-channeled Oak Creek around the needed lengthened runway to support jet bombers. Curtis E. LeMay, commander of SAC and aviation legend, demanded that SAC control the entire field. Initially the Air National Guard and Naval Air Station were located alongside the new Air Force units but were promised to move. Construction began across the field for new facilities needed to house the Air National Guard and Naval Reserve units and were generally complete by 1956.

Construction included new barracks for the airmen, mess halls, road improvements, recreation facilities, warehouses, weapons bunkers, and expanded operations buildings. Two giant hangars were built at the cost of $1 million each and concrete bunkers were built to house the powerful weapons that would soon make Lincoln AFB home. The amount of concrete used for the apron and runways at Lincoln would amount to the largest concrete project in state's history. Construction on other parts of the base continued for many years into the late 1950's depending on funds available. Post-1956 construction emphasized recreation or housing generally.

On February 1st 1954, Lincoln AFB was officially activated as was the 98th Air Base Group (recently of Fairchild AFB in Washington state), in charge of running the field. The 98th Air Refueling Squadron was its first aircraft unit, arriving from Kansas the same month. The first major aircraft, a KC-97, made its appearance in Lincoln during April. During July, the 98th Bomb Wing arrived from Davis-Monthan AFB where it had disposed of its war-wary B-29 bombers from Japan where it served during the Korean War. Later in January 1955, the main body of the 307th Bomb Wing had also arrived from Okinawa also after the unit's action over Korea (They had been the last active B-29 group in the USAF). In November 1954, the 98th Air Base Group was de-activated in favor of the 818th Air Base Group. The 818th Air Division took over control of the base during the month and assumed responsibility over the 307th and 98th Bomb Wings, their respective Air-Refueling Squadrons and the entirety of Lincoln Air Force Base. Jurisdiction also moved that month from the 15th to the famous 8th Air Force.

Other elements at the base that were activated during the period were the Field Maintenance Squadrons, Periodic (later Organizational) Maintenance Squadrons, Armament and Electronic Squadrons, Headquarters Squadrons, a Material (Supply) Squadron, a Motor Vehicle (Transportation) Squadron, an Air Police (Combat Defense) Squadron, an Civil Engineering (Installations) Squadron, a Food Services (Services) Squadron, a medical section, an Air Depot (Munitions Maintenance) Squadron as well as air-traffic control and air transport detachments. These units would work concurrently to help maintain a critical portion of America's nuclear deterrent.

On December 7th 1954, the first B-47 Stratojet landed at Lincoln fresh from the Boeing Wichita, Kansas factory. The 98th Bomb Wing would become combat-ready in April of 1955 and the 307th by June as they received their (sometimes second-hand) B-47s. The world-wide "Force for Peace" mission began, otherwise known as nuclear deterrence although this fact was not well known to the public. 90 B-47 bombers would soon line the concrete aprons of Lincoln AFB.

The Air Base was a city in its own right (actually becoming later the 5th largest town in Nebraska). Everything from a barber shop to a credit union to a dental clinic made the base largely self-sustaining. Swimming pools, a gym, tennis courts, baseball fields and clubs soon made their presence felt as well. Bowling Lake was constructed in 1958 using (what has been ironically gestured by veterans as) volunteer time of airmen and officers. The lake was dug on the Northwest side of the base and was known for its fishing qualities and boating events.

Housing was short in Lincoln proper, and between 1956 and 1958 1,000 units of Air Force duplex, apartment and standard houses were built West of Northwest 48th Street. A school, Arnold Elementary was also built, even then operated by Lincoln Public Schools. Older children tended to go to school at Whittier Junior High and then Lincoln High School. It should be said that airmen also found homes inside of Lincoln, especially the Belmont neighborhood of Northwestern Lincoln.

From 1955 through 1964, a considerable number of accidents occurred at the base (but also nationwide), primarily with the B-47 jet bomber. Fatal crashes occurred near Ceresco and near Raymond during 1955 and 1956. Bowling Lake was named for Captain Russell Bowling who commanded a B-47 that careened off the runway at RAF Lakenheath in England and into a nuclear weapons core storage bunker. The Strategic Air Command pursued upgrades to the B-47 into the late 1950s, however, an air frame built for high-altitude bombing was becoming stressed by low-level flying.

Throughout the 1950's, Lincoln became a major Strategic Air Command base and a very powerful asset to American strategic forces. Its B-47 complement would number above 100 at times before 1965 and news of missile deployment assured the area in 1958 that the base would be there long into the future. KC-97 tankers meanwhile stood a less famous mission but nonetheless made the B-47 medium bomber into a strategic one. The 20 aircraft of each squadron provided support with its dual transport/refueling role. By 1959, an "Alert Force" concept came to dominate SAC's bomber operations in the face of the 1957 Sputnik incident and the now shortened warning time of a Soviet attack. The same year, 2nd Air Force assumed jurisdiction over the base and the naming of several units would change from 1958 into 1962. Strategic missiles coming into the mix would cause institutional changes themselves. Lincoln Air Force Base would move into the 1960's a very large and strong strategic American air base.


In 2011, the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, requested its demolition by the City of El Paso because it “determined that the Center is not eligible as a historical structure nor its use contemplated in the future.” This meant TxDOT did not see Lincoln Center as a historical site. The city echoed this view by sending its newly hired Historic Preservation Officer to conduct an analysis of the center and she concluded that “no information on anyone of prominence that had attended the school” or that she had “no information on anything of significance that happened in the building,” as well as other issues. Her statements were unfounded.

The fact is that the Lincoln Park community is a place that has tremendous historical significance, but it has been overlooked. It is situated in proximity to what was once Concordia, which was the site of the first Mexican community north of the Río Grande. In 1852, Hugh Stephenson built several buildings and his home at this site. In 1854, he built a chapel named “San José de Concordia el Alto” and the cemetery that still exists. The chapel was located at the corner of Rosa Street and Hammett Boulevard. On February 6, 1856, a deer gored and killed Juana Ascarate Stephenson and she became the first person to be buried in the Concordia Cemetery. Stephenson lost his land after the Civil War, but his son-in-law, Albert H. French, purchased the property at a federal marshal’s sale in 1867. In 1868, when the Magoffinsville Post was flooded, Fort Bliss moved to the area south of Concordia Cemetery (now the Lincoln Park community) and it became known as Camp Concordia. It operated as a military base from 1868-1876. The post was later abandoned in 1876 after the troops left El Paso before moving to Hart’s Mill from 1878-1883.

In a 1989 article written by Mary Bowling and published in Password, the Journal of the El Paso County Historical Association, in 1975, Lillian E. Scott, who had been a teacher at Lincoln School for seven years passed away and she left behind a small journal with notes about her years associated with the school. Mary Bowling had been a student at Lincoln School in 1929 when the journal was found. Bowling subsequently transcribed Scott’s notes and developed a short history of the school up to 1951.

Lincoln School, formerly known as Concordia School, was first opened as a one-room school in Camp Concordia in the Officer’s Quarters in 1868. Scott wrote in her notebook that, “it was furnished with long rough wooden tables and benches, and its pupils were children of military personnel.” In 1880, the school was expanded to a four-room adobe building that had served as a guard post between 1880 and 1990 later the school opened as a one one-room brick building on Grama Street near the Franklin Canal.

Bordered by Concordia Cemetery to the North, the Ziegler Union Stockyards to the West, Lincoln Park area was a flourishing community comprised of mostly adobe buildings from as early as the late 1800s at the edge of civilization. In 1909, when the Lincoln Park Addition was registered with the El Paso City Clerk’s office, a two-room school building was created at the present site (4001 Durazno). After the creation of the neighborhood, from 1909 to 1915, Concordia School District #2 purchased various lots where Lincoln School would later expand. In 1915, Lincoln School was expanded to a red brick building with a basement and 13 rooms.

Among the many students who attended Lincoln School, who later became prominent persons in the community, was State Representative Mauro Rosas, a former pupil of Grace Lord, who taught there for 31 years beginning in 1928. Rosas was born on December 5, 1925. He served in the US Army Air Corps and later became an El Paso Attorney. Rosas was also the first Latino State Representative from El Paso, Texas to serve in Austin during the Twentieth century in 1959 during the Fifty-Sixth and Fifty-Seven Sessions (1959-1963). Rosas was instrumental in building the El Paso Civic Center. He died September 10, 1993 and is buried at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

Another prominent resident who attended Lincoln School was Dr. Manuel D. Hornedo. Hornedo was born on June 11, 1903. He attended El Paso Junior College and Texas School of Mines and Metallurgy (now UT El Paso). Hornedo taught at the El Paso Technical Institute for two years before receiving his M.D. degree from the Medical Branch of the University of Texas. He later joined the United States Public Health Reserve and worked at the El Paso City-County Health Unit in 1933 as a Clinician. In 1952, Dr. Hornedo was appointed Health Officer for the City and County of El Paso and Director of the El Paso City-County Health Unit.

As late as 1953, Stephenson Street, named after the founder of the area, was located north of Durazno Street and East of Lincoln School. The street was removed in 1973 when the City of El Paso requested the use of the space beneath 1-10 for a public purpose–to develop open space and Lincoln Park was created. Nestor Valencia designed the park. A January 8, 1962 article in the El Paso Herald-Post signaled the arrival of Interstate 10 with the buying of land in El Paso’s East side. That same article featured a photograph that outlined the path the freeway would take from Virginia Street to Hawkins Street and through the Lincoln Park community.

In 1970, EPISD sold Lincoln School and adjoining 23 acres to the Texas Department of Transportation or TxDOT so it could be used as a field office to build Interstate 10, Gateway East and West and eleven elevated structure or overpasses on 23 acres. In October 1970, the EPISD deeded the building to the State of Texas Department of Transportation or TxDOT to be used as a staging location for the construction and maintenance of Interstate 10 and Gateway East and West. That was also the year Lincoln School was closed.

In 1970 El Calvario, a stone church that had been built in 1933, that was located at the corner of Durazno and Martínez Streets, was demolished to make way for a freeway column to hold a section of Highway 54 leading to the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry. One of the options for Lincoln School that was considered in that period (1974) was for it to be used as a satellite campus for El Paso Community College.

According to a report by the city of El Paso, Community Development Block Grant Funds were to used to renovate Lincoln Center: $100,000 in 1976 to renovate the center $56,898 in 1978 to install an elevator $24,950 in 1987 to replace the roof, and $29,000 in 1988 to repair and renovate bathrooms. The Lincoln Cultural Center, at the time was the only cultural arts center run by the city, and it operated from 1977 to 2006.

From 1977 to 1987 it housed several Parks and Recreation offices the League of Latin American Council Project Amistad offices Project Bravo, and also featured a recreation room with pool tables, a meeting room and classroom for informal gatherings and a gallery that was used by local artists for monthly exhibits.

Latino cultural arts center

The Lincoln Arts Cultural Center was the only arts center run by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department in a predominantly Mexican-American community and it was used by the entire city, so by default, we can say that it served as the city’s first and last Latino cultural arts center. Currently, in 2012, there is no Latino Cultural Art Center in El Paso, a city where more than 80 percent of residents are Mexican and Mexican-Americans/Chicanos.

In 1983, Bobby Aduato, Lincoln Center director, asked Chicano artist Felipe Adame to paint murals on the pillars under the Spaghetti Bowl freeway interchange at Lincoln Center. Adame sought to replicate the creation of murals at Lincoln Center like murals in Chicano Park in San Diego. He had been involved in the painting of murals at Chicano Park in San Diego for many years and continues to be involved today. Adame had hoped to paint additional murals on freeway columns but due to a lack of funding he could not paint more. It would not be until 1999 when other artists would advance his idea.

In addition to the exterior murals painted on the columns at Lincoln Park, other important murals were painted inside the Lincoln Center, one titled “Tribute to Abraham Lincoln,” painted by Artist Carlos E. Florés in 1984, as well as “Amistad/Friendship,” also by Florés, painted in 1985, assisted by Fermin Montes, Manuel Guzman, Ana Ramos, Flaviano Ortíz, Fernando Galvan, Carlos Casillas, and Enrique Florés. The murals were painted with funding from the El Paso Parks and Recreation Department and the Upper Rio Grande Private Industry Council (PIC).

Florés attended La Academia de San Carlos. La Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City, the first major art academy and the first art museum in the Americas. He studied painting under Maestro Luis Nishisawa. Nishizawa is recognized as one of México’s leading landscape artists of the 20th century. This is the same university attended by Méxican artists like Saturnino Herrán, Roberto Montenegro, Diego Rivera, and José Clemente Orozco.

In 1985, the Lincoln Art Gallery presented “Juntos 1985” 1st Invitational Hispanic Art Exhibit organized by Paul H. Ramírez and myself. The exhibit featured prominent artists from El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, including the late Manuel G. Acosta, the late Rudy Montoya, the late Luis Jiménez Jr., the late Marta Amaya Arat, Ernesto P. Martínez, Mago Orona, Antonio Piña (who was a student at Lincoln School), Paul H. Ramírez, Miguel Juárez and Ciudad Juárez Artists: Noel Espinoza, Miguel Varela, Alicia Acosta De Sanz, Ildefonso Bravo, Velia Carranza, Elvira Fe de Mirano, Rebecca Antuna, Antoñio Arrellanes, Irma Camacho, and Lucina Chavéz. The Honorable El Paso County Judge Alicia R. Chacon, who was a city representative at the time, was instrumental in supporting the exhibit.

The El Paso artists in the exhibition included a who’s who in El Paso Latino Art, including the late Manuel G. Acosta, and the late Luis Jiménez who created “Los Lagartos” in San Jacinto Plaza. In 1986, the gallery was the site of the “Juntos 1986: Hispanic Photographers Exhibit” that included notable Latino photographers, including Internationally recognized photographer Carlos Fernández. This exhibit led to the creation of the National Association of Chicano Arts (NACA) that changed its name to the Juntos Art Association in 1986 (presently a Latino Arts and Cultural organization in its 25th year).

Numerous other El Paso artists and photographers have exhibited in the gallery and numerous performance groups have performed in the amphitheater next to Lincoln School. It is estimated that from 1981 to 2006, the Lincoln Art Gallery hosted about 3,000 local and school-children artists. Lincoln Center served not only the Lincoln Park Neighborhood, but also the residents of the Durazno and Chamizal Neighborhoods.

Murals, hot cars and evacuations

In 1999, Chicano Artist Carlos Callejo, who years earlier (1993-95) had been commissioned to paint a large mural titled “Our History,” in the El Paso County Courthouse at 500 East San Antonio Street in downtown El Paso, proposed and completed a mural project for Lincoln Park in conjunction with the Private Industry Council (PIC). He proposed to work with 80 students from various school districts. They also produced a video on the creation of the murals and sponsored art classes at the Lincoln Center. The project hired five artists to work with them in producing the murals. The artists included Cesar Inostroza, Fabian Arraiza, Steve Salazar and two women who were not artists but youth supervisors.

Inostroza and Callejo continued painting murals after funding for the project ended. Callejo said each row of columns were dedicated to various themes, one row was titled “Memorial Walk” and was dedicated to historical figures such as Cesar Chavez, Ruben Salazar, Martin Luther King and another row was dedicated to the “Natural Elements:” Mother Earth, Father Son, etc. Callejo organized a community group that included individuals fromthe neighborhood to approve the themes for the murals.

In 2005, the Latin Pride Car Club organized the “First Annual Lincoln Park Day” at Lincoln Park. The event was modeled after similar events held at Chicano Park in San Diego. A year earlier, in 2004, Hector González, firefighter and president of the Latin Pride Car Club, had e-mailed the City of El Paso concerning the fate of Lincoln Center. After the floods in 2006, the city had shut the center down with plans to reopen it. González’s fire unit had been called to help Saipan-Ledo residents evacuate their homes during the 2006 floods. Lincoln Center was used as a rescue station for people escaping the flooding in the Saipan-Ledo neighborhood, where 56 homes were destroyed.

In 2006, the Latin Pride Car Club organized the “Second Annual Lincoln Park Day,” following in 2007 with the “Third Lincoln Park Day,” and in 2008, the “Fourth Lincoln Park Day.” In 2008, brothers Hector and David González and Artist Gabriel Gaytán created the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee or LPCC to advocate for the needs of Lincoln Park. In 2009 and 2010, LPCC presented the Fifth and Sixth Annual Lincoln Park Days.

In 2009, a mural titled: “El Corazón de El Paso,” was painted on a 30-foot-by-20-foot T-shaped freeway column by Gabriel S. Gaytán. Gabriel’s son, Gabriel Itzai assisted Gaytán in the painting of the mural, as did the members of the Latin Pride Car Club who helped with scaffolding and materials.

The idea for the mural came from David González a member of the Latin Pride Car Club, who sponsored the mural project and commissioned it. González gave a sketch to Gaytán who then added images of the Franklin Mountains as well as the star on the mountain, and Mexican pyramids that symbolized El Paso’s over 85 percent Mexican-American heritage and population. The main image of the mural was that of a human heart with highways as arteries. Freeways US 54 and I-10 meet at Lincoln Park and spread out to other highways throughout the city.

In 2010, LPCC joined with residents and created a Neighborhood Association and became a Partners-in-Parks that made it possible to sponsor four events a year: Cesar Chavez Day in March, Lincoln Park Day in September, Día de los Muertos in November and Día/Day de La Virgen de Guadalupe in December. Proceeds generated from these events go back to offset expenses of organizing these events, for beautification of the park and the painting of murals by local area artists.

The Lincoln Cultural Center and Park remains the social anchor and meeting place for the community and meetings are often held outside of the closed center. One of the goals for LPCC has been to collaborate with city of El Paso to make Lincoln Park and Center a cultural tourist destination for the arts. In partnership with the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau, in early 2010, the LPCC printed 10,000 full color brochures to promote the murals and the park.

After years of trying to find out who owned Lincoln Center in a City Council meeting on October 4, 2011, El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson stated that the city did not own Lincoln Center, that the Texas Department of Transportation or TxDOT was the rightful owner. At that same meeting, LPCC learned from Wilson that Lincoln Center was slated for demolition and that the newly renamed and remodeled O’Rourke Center (formerly the YMCA) at Virginia and Montana Streets (located four miles away) was the replacement for Lincoln Center.

Using Freedom of Information Requests (FOIAs), LPCC requested e-mails from the city that documented their intent to tear down the center. These documents revealed that city officials had been planning the demolition since 2007, but had not officially notified residents.

At a meeting Debbie Hamlyn, the Director of Quality of Life for the City of El Paso, presented a report to City Council regarding the demolition of Lincoln Center. Among her points was that the district had lost population and it no longer warranted a center. The LPCC stated that aside from low-income residents, this part of the city has a large undocumented population, and has historically been under-counted by the U.S. Census and that there were over 6,000 young people in immediate areas of Lincoln Center.

At Annual Lincoln Park Day on September 25, 2011, thousands gathered to celebrate the park and unveil a new mural by Gaytán and experience one of the largest regional classic car shows in the city. At the same time, under the threat of Lincoln Center’s threat of demolition, LPCC initiated the “Save Lincoln Park,” campaign by hosting a press conference with attendees and Lincoln residents. On that day, LPCC was also able to collect 200 letters to city council members and more than 500 signatures on a petition to Mayor Jonathan Cook. LPCC subsequently presented those letters and petitioned to city representatives and Mayor Cook directly.

Hamlyn pointed out that the building had issues with mold and asbestos due to the floods of 2006, however, several Open Records Requests (FOIAs) to the city failed to produce any evidence of asbestos. At the meeting, City Representative for District 3, Emma Acosta, introduced a resolution to grant a reprieve to Lincoln Center for six months while the city communicates with the neighborhoods surrounding Lincoln Center regarding its demolition. The resolution passed unanimously. Several LPCC members, supporters and community residents spoke on behalf of keeping Lincoln Center open and stopping its demolition.

At the first public input meeting on January 11, 2012, six years after the public facility had been closed, at the Silva Health Magnet School, city engineer, R. Alan Shubert, stated that no asbestos had ever been found in the building. This was the first time city officials admitted that they had obviously communicated inaccurate information about asbestos having been the reason to close the building.

Without a doubt, Lincoln School is the El Paso region’s first and oldest elementary school, created 14 years before the El Paso Independent School District was incorporated (EPISD was created in 1892). The proposed demolition of the building must be stopped and the City of El Paso needs to work with LPCC members and with citizens of El Paso and develop a plan to refurbish, restore and reopen Lincoln Center and not to destroy a building with so much history of our gente. Everyone needs to stand up for what is right and not just the residents of Lincoln Park.

One of the ideas generated so far have been to reopen Lincoln Center as a Latino Cultural Arts Center, but more ideas are welcomed.

Miguel Juárez is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at El Paso focusing on United States, Borderlands and Urban History, as well as a member of the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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Watch the video: Στο θέατρο της Αρχαίας Δημητριάδας και στο Μουσείο οι συναυλίες του Lincoln Center 24 04 2017 (November 2022).

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