As the world's most famous concert hall and one of the most prestigious music venues, it's hard to believe Carnegie Hall was slated for demolition in the '60s. Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891 with the aim to present extraordinary music and musicians, Carnegie Hall has hosted over 46,000 events since opening.
Tuthill modelled the magnificent Italian Renaissance-style building after the architecture designs of European concert halls in pursuit of the ideal acoustics for the space. The legendary sound is due to the resonant performance space with a simple, sophisticated style. Tchaikovsky conducted the opening night concert, however after the venue was sold to a real estate developer in 1925, financial issues ensued. By 1960, after a concerted campaign, the City of New York purchased Carnegie Hall to save it from demolition and paid for an interior and exterior overhaul.
The renowned musical venue, which has hosted the world's most gifted artists, actually contains three performance spaces showcasing different musical genres. The majestic, storied, 2,804-seat Stern Auditorium and Perelman Stage hosts the crème de la crème; Zankel Hall – the venue's newest underground space is where visitors can enjoy edgier classical, pop, jazz and world music within its 599-seat area, and the more intimate Weil Recital Hall with 268 seats is the launching pad for new talent and chamber music concerts.
The punchline of the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall (answer: practice), used to mean if you were not performing at the venue or attending a performance you would not get to see inside the hallowed halls. Thankfully, for those short on talent or tickets, you can join a 45-minute guided tour for an insight into the history of the construction and the greats who have performed in Carnegie Hall. The tour concludes at the onsite Rose Museum with archived material and videos of performances. Adult tickets are US$10 and children aged under 12 are US$4.
To visit Carnegie Hall, take the N, Q, R subway lines to 57th Street/Seventh Avenue. From here, it's a one-minute walk down Seventh Avenue.