May 5, 1891: The Music Hall in New York City officially opens. The building, located in midtown Manhattan, was designed by William Burnet Tuthill. It is one of the most famous and sought after venues in the US. The building contains three separate performance spaces. Construction began in 1890 when Isaac A. Hopper and Company began work. The building was in use by April 1891 and this date found Walter Damrosch and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducting the official opening concert. The name changed in 1893 to support the man who funded the building project – Andrew Carnegie.
The building was owned by the Carnegie family until 1925 when it was sold to Robert E. Simon. It then was passed on to his son who tried to entice the New York Philharmonic into buying the building. The orchestra booked the majority of the concert dates each year and had already planned to move to Lincoln Center. They did not wish to buy
. By 1960, the building was slated for demolition to make way for yet another skyscraper. Isaac Stern convinced many more artists into persuading New York City to buy the building from Simon. He was paid $5 million and the site became a National Historic Landmark in 1962 with Carnegie Hall Corporation, a nonprofit agency, running the hall.
The Main Hall or Isaac Stern Auditorium is the main venue at Carnegie Hall. There are five levels of seating accommodating 2,804 patrons. It is 105 steps to the top balcony. Zankel Hall seats 599 patrons and was originally called the Recital Hall. It was the first auditorium to be opened to the public back in 1891. Mr. and Mrs. Zankel paid for renovations prior to its reopening in 2003. Weill Recital Hall seats 268 and it, too, has been in use since 1891 and was originally used to showcase chamber music. The Carnegie Hall Archives and the Rose Museum are also part of the great Carnegie Hall.
Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland in 1835 and came to the US as a child. He made his fortune in steel companies. He began in Pittsburgh and merged with several other steel concerns until U.S. Steel was created. By the time of his death in 1919 (at age 83) he was known for his philanthropy. Prior to his death, he had already given away $350,695,653 (nearly $5 billion today). After his death, another $30 million (≈ $427 million today) was given to foundations, charities, and pensioner.
Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.
Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something.
I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution.
Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs. – all from Andrew Carnegie
Also on this day:
Monkey Trial – In 1925 John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution.
Cinco de Mayo – In 1862, the Battle of Puebla was fought.
Turning Straw Into Gold – In 1809, the first patent was granted to a woman in the US.