Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - concert halls

Designers: Heinsbergen Decorating Company, Interior Designers (firm); Anthony T. Heinsbergen (interior designer)

Dates: constructed 1890-1891

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881 7th Avenue
Manhattan, New York, NY 10019

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Steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1919) funded the construction of this $1.1 million performing arts hall, the cornerstone of which was laid 05/13/1890, with the first performance occurring a little under a year later on 05/05/1891. Carnegie retained New York architect William Burnet Tuthill (1855-1929) to provide the design of the Italian Renaissance exterior and the five-level, 2,804-seat main concert hall. In addition, to the main hall, Tuthill also created two smaller performance spaces, one small, originally called the "Chamber Music Hall" (accessible off of West 57th Street), and a slightly larger one (originally named "Recital Hall" and renamed "Carnegie Lyceum" in 1896, accessible off of 7th Avenue). Isaac A. Hopper and Company served as Carnegie Hall's Building Contractor. Developer Robert E. Simon, Sr., owned the legendary concert hall until 1960, when the City of New York purchased it to prevent it from being demolished. The city spent $100,000 to clean it inside and out, replace the stage curtains, and re-carpet and re-paint the interiors.

Alterations were made in 1894 and 1896. Carnegie again retained Tuthill who supervised the construction of a group of rental artist's lofts in 1894 on the south and northeast sides of the building. The studio towers were meant to supplement income for the hall and enable it to be financially self-sufficient. The original mansard roof was also removed and replaced with loft space. New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh (1847-1918) designed more alterations for Carnegie Hall in 1896. Six years after Andrew Carnegie's death in 1919, his widow, Louise Whitfield Carnegie (1857-1946), sold the hall to developer Robert E. Simon, Sr., (1877-1935); the new owner formed Carnegie Hall, Incorporated, which undertook redecorating the interior's corridor spaces, improved the HVAC equipment, and created an art exhibition space for loft tenants to show work. Simon also created retail storefronts on 7th Avenue to add further revenue. Architect James Stewart Polshek (born 1930) participated in master-planning efforts to renovate the building between 1978-1980. Between 1978-1986 a four-part renewal of spaces occurred. Between 05/1983 and 12/1983, a team of renovation experts, including the painting firm, A.T. Heinsbergen and Company of Los Angeles, CA, participated in restoration efforts of the main hall and other spaces. Mid-1980s alterations to the floor of main hall's stage resulted in a deadening of sound quality; a concrete floor added under the stage was removed, restoring its acoustical quality. In the mid-1980s, storefronts that had been added by Simon in the 1920s were removed. Between 1999-2003, a remodeling of Tuthill's "Recital Hall," resulted in a new 599-seat auditorium, renamed "Zankel Hall."

New York City Landmark (1967-06-20): ID n/a

National Register of Historic Places (October 15, 1966): 66000535 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 17945