Thursday, Apr 4, 2013
On March 28th, Town Hall, a famous performance center on 43rd Street in New York City, was officially awarded the designation of National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior.
This venerable institution, which first opened to the public on January 12, 1921, has over the years hosted many celebrated artistic, political and public figures, including jazz musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker (who played together in 1945), Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Rodham Clinton and even President Barack Obama.
Town Hall was designed by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, who were also responsible for the 1903 renovation of the East and West Wings of the White House. Town Hall itself was built by The League for Political Education, whose fight for women’s suffrage led them to create a space where all were welcome to discuss the political issues of the day.
Austrian composer Richard Strauss was one of the first performers to play here. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was arrested onstage in 1921 for lecturing about birth control. African American contralto Marian Anderson made her New York debut here on December 30, 1935, after being denied an operatic career elsewhere because of discrimination.
Town Hall is famous for its layout and acoustics, and theatergoers know that “there’s not a bad seat in the house.” And the audience at the “Spotlight on Town Hall” concert could attest to that, as they got to watch performances from cast members of “Chicago,” “Smash,” “The Phantom of the Opera,’ off-Broadway’s “Avenue Q,” The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and The Town Hall Broadway’s Rising Stars Chorus.
Floyd Myers, chief of partnerships and business development for National Parks of New York Harbor, presented the designation on behalf of Secretary Salazar, Director Jarvis, and Acting Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor Will Shafroth.
Myers was able to talk of his personal connection to Town Hall in a way that resonated with the audience of over 300.
“As a city kid growing up in New York City, I overstand the importance of music to young people,” he said. “I came here in tenth grade and was able to see shows that I would not get to see otherwise. It is a great honor to present this designation to Town Hall.”
Town Hall is a beloved institution that is significant not only to New Yorkers, but also in the history of the United States. Its designation as a National Historic Landmark was well deserved, and the next 92 years promise to be just as outstanding.