New York City
has been described as the cultural capital of the world.
The culture of New York
is reflected in its size and ethnic diversity
. Many American cultural movements first emerged in the city. Large numbers of Irish
, and ultimately Asian
and Hispanic Americans
also emigrated to New York throughout the 20th century, significantly influencing the culture and image of New York. The city became the center of modern dance
and stand-up comedy
in the early 20th century. The city was the top venue for jazz
in the 1940s, expressionism
in the 1950s and home to hip hop
, punk rock
, and the Beat Generation
. The Stonewall Inn
in Greenwich Village
, Lower Manhattan
, is a designated U.S. National Historic Landmark
and National Monument
, as the site of the June 1969 Stonewall riots
and the cradle of the modern gay rights
The city is the birthplace of many cultural movements, including the Harlem Renaissance in literature and visual art; abstract expressionism
(also known as the New York School
) in painting; and hip hop
, Tin Pan Alley
, certain forms of jazz
, and (along with Philadelphia
in music. New York has been considered the dance capital of the world.
The city is also frequently the setting for novels
, movies (see List of films set in New York City
), and television programs. New York Fashion Week
is one of the world's preeminent fashion events and is afforded extensive coverage by the media.
New York has also frequently been ranked the top fashion capital
of the world on the annual list compiled by the Global Language Monitor
Artists have been drawn into the city by opportunity, as the city government funds the arts with a larger annual budget than the National Endowment for the Arts
, and New York is the center of the global art market
, which grew up along with national and international media centers.
One of the most common traits attributed to New York is its fast pace
which spawned the term "New York minute"
Journalist Walt Whitman
characterized New York's streets as being traversed by "hurrying, feverish, electric crowds".
Department of Cultural Affairs
The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), a branch of the government of New York City
, is the largest public funder of the arts in the United States. DCLA's funding budget is larger than that of the National Endowment for the Arts
, the federal government's national arts funding mechanism.
DCLA provides funding and support services to about 1,400 art and cultural organizations in the five boroughs
, including 375 museums, 96 orchestras, 24 performing arts centers, 7 botanical gardens, 5 zoos and 1 aquarium.
Recipients span many disciplines, including the visual, literary and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City's five boroughs. DCLA also administers the Percent for Art program, which funds public art at building sites. In fiscal year 2007, DCLA's expense budget, used for funding programming at non-profits, was $151.9 million. Its capital budget, used to support projects at 196 cultural organizations throughout the city ranging from roof replacement to new construction, is roughly $867 million for the period between 2007 and 2011.
Beginning with the rise of popular sheet music in the early 20th century, New York's Broadway musical theater and Tin Pan Alley
, New York became a major center for the American music industry
Since then the city has served as an important center for many different musical topics and genres.
New York's status as a center for European classical music
can be traced back to the early 19th century. The New York Philharmonic
, formed in 1842, did much to help establish the city's musical reputation. The first two major New York composers were William Fry
and George Frederick Bristow
, who in 1854 famously criticized the Philharmonic for choosing European composers over American ones.
Bristow was committed to developing an American classical music tradition. His most important work was the Rip Van Winkle
opera, which most influentially used an American folktale rather than European imitations.
The best-known New York composer, indeed, the best-known American classical composer of any kind, was George Gershwin
. Gershwin was a songwriter with Tin Pan Alley and the Broadway theatres, and his works synthesized elements of many styles, including the music of New York's Yiddish theatre, vaudeville, ragtime, operetta, jazz and the post-Romantic music of European composers. Gershwin's work gave American classical music unprecedented international recognition.
Following Gershwin, the next major American composer was Aaron Copland
from Brooklyn, who used elements of American folk music and jazz in his compositions. His works included the Organ Symphony
, which earned him comparisons to Igor Stravinsky
, and the music for the ballet Appalachian Spring
and the Copland Piano Variations
The New York blues
was a type of blues music characterized by significant jazz influences and a more modernized, urban feel than the country blues. Prominent musicians from this field include Lionel Hampton
and Big Joe Turner
. In New York, jazz became fused with stride
(an advanced form of ragtime
) and became highly evolved. Among the first major New York jazz musicians was Fletcher Henderson
, whose jazz orchestra, first appearing in 1923, helped invent swing music
. The swing style that developed from New York's big jazz bands was catchy and very danceable, and was originally played largely by black orchestras. Later, white bands led by musicians like Jimmy Dorsey
and Benny Goodman
began to dominate and produced a number of instrumentalists that had a profound effect on the later evolution of jazz. Star vocalists also emerged, mainly women like the bluesy Billie Holiday
and the scat singer Ella Fitzgerald
Beginning in the 1940s, New York was the center of a roots revival
in American folk music
. Many New Yorkers developed a renewed interest in blues, Appalachian folk music
and other roots styles. Greenwich Village
, in Lower Manhattan, became a hotbed of American folk music as well as leftist political activism. The performers associated with the Greenwich Village scene had sporadic mainstream success in the 1940s and 1950s; some, like Pete Seeger
and the Almanac Singers
, did well, but most were confined to local coffeehouses and other venues. Performers like Dave Van Ronk
and Joan Baez
helped expand the scene by appealing to university students. In the early 1960s, Baez was instrumental in introducing the up-and-coming young folk artist Bob Dylan
to her audience and he quickly achieved national prominence. By the mid-'60s, folk and rock were merging, with Bob Dylan taking the lead in July 1965, releasing "Like a Rolling Stone
", with a distinctive, revolutionary rock sound for its time, steeped in tawdry New York imagery, followed by an electric performance in late July at the Newport Folk Festival. Dylan plugged an entire generation into the milieu of the singer-songwriter, often writing from an urban, distinctly New York point of view. By the mid to late 1960s, bands and singer-songwriters began to proliferate the underground New York art/music scene. The release of The Velvet Underground & Nico
in 1967, featuring singer-songerwriter Lou Reed
and German singer and collaborator Nico
was described as "most prophetic rock album ever made" by Rolling Stone
Other New York based singer songerwriters began to emerge, using the urban landscape as their canvass, a backdrop for lyrics in the confessional style of poets like Anne Sexton
and Sylvia Plath
. In July 1969, Newsweek
magazine ran a feature story, "The Girls-Letting Go," describing the groundbreaking music of Joni Mitchell
, Laura Nyro
, Lotti Golden
, as a new breed of female troubadour: "what is common to them are the personalized songs they write, like voyages of self discovery, brimming with keen observation and startling in the impact of their poetry." The work of these early New York based singer-songwriters, from Laura Nyro's New York Tendaberry
(1969), to Lotti Golden's East Village
diaries on Motor-Cycle
her 1969 debut on Atlantic Records
, has served as inspiration to generations of female singer-songwriters in the rock, folk and jazz traditions.
music developed from the funk, soul and jazz of the 1960s, becoming a distinct genre of music, eschewing the raw sound of a four piece garage band and embracing a new technology that employed driving synthesizers with booming a bass drum that defined the disco sound with a steady quarter note beat, or Four on the floor (music)
. It was not unusual for producers to contract local symphony and philharmonic orchestras as well as session musicians to further refine the sound. Disco, a musical idiom that was strongly associated with minorities (primarily black and gay audiences), became a phenomenon in dance clubs and anf discothèques in the 1970s. Many of the major disco nightclubs were in New York, including Paradise Garage
and Studio 54
, attracting notable followers from the art world, such as Andy Warhol
, the fashion industry like Karl Lagerfeld
, as well as socialites, musicians and intellectuals. This tradition continued in the 1980s with Area
, and Limelight
In the 1970s, punk rock
emerged in New York's downtown music scene with seminal bands such as the New York Dolls
and Patti Smith
were the best known heavy metal
and glam rock
performers from the city. The downtown scene developed into the "new wave
" style of rock music at downtown clubs like CBGB
's. The 1970s were also when the Salsa and Latin Jazz movements grew and branched out to the world. Labels such as the "Fania All Stars", musicians like Tito Puente and Celia Cruz and Ralph Mercado, the creator of the RM&M record label, all contributed to stars like Hector LaVoe, Ruben Blades and many others. The New Yorican Sound, differed somewhat from Salsa that came from Puerto Rico, it was being sung by Puerto Rican Americans from New York and had the swagger of the Big Apple.
first emerged in the Bronx in the early 1970s at neighborhood block parties
when DJs, like DJ Kool Herc
, began isolating percussion breaks in funk
songs and rapping while the audience danced. For many years, New York was the only city with a major hip-hop scene, and all of the early recordings came from New York.
People like Kurtis Blow
and LL Cool J
brought hip hop to the mainstream for the first time, while so-called East Coast rap
was defined in the 1980s by artists including Eric B. & Rakim
, Kurtis Blow
. Major New York stars emerged to go on and produce multi-platinum records, including Puff Daddy
and The Notorious B.I.G.
, along with acts like Wu-Tang Clan
, Big L
, and Busta Rhymes
With nearly 8 million people riding the city's subway system each day, New York's transit network is also a major venue for musicians. Each week, more than 100 musicians and ensembles – ranging in genre from classical
to Cajun, bluegrass
, South American
– give over 150 performances sanctioned by New York Transit at 25 locations throughout the subway system.
The 1913 Armory Show
in New York, an exhibition which brought European modernist artists' work to the U.S., both shocked the public and influenced art making in the United States for the remainder of the twentieth century. The exhibition had a twofold effect of communicating to American artists that artmaking was about expression, not only aesthetics or realism
, and at the same time showing that Europe had abandoned its conservative model of ranking artists according to a strict academic hierarchy. This encouraged American artists to find a personal voice, and a modernist movement, responding to American civilization
, emerged in New York. Alfred Stieglitz
(1864–1946), photographer, Charles Demuth
(1883–1935) and Marsden Hartley
(1877–1943), both painters, helped establish an American viewpoint in the fine arts. Stieglitz promoted cubists and abstract painters at his 291 Gallery on 5th Avenue. The Museum of Modern Art
, founded in 1929, became a showcase for American and international contemporary art. By the end of World War II, Paris had declined as the world's art center while New York emerged as the center of contemporary fine art in both the United States and the world.
In the years after World War II, a group of young New York artists known as the New York School
formed the first truly original school of painting in America that exerted a major influence on foreign artists: abstract expressionism
. Among the movement's leaders were Jackson Pollock
(1912–1956), Willem de Kooning
(1904–1997), and Mark Rothko
(1903–1970). The abstract expressionists abandoned formal composition and representation of real objects to concentrate on instinctual arrangements of space and color and to demonstrate the effects of the physical action of painting on the canvas.
New York's vibrant visual art scene in the 1950s and 1960s also defined the American pop art
movement. Members of this next artistic generation favored a different form of abstraction: works of mixed media. Among them were Jasper Johns
(1930– ), who used photos, newsprint, and discarded objects in his compositions. Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol
(1930–1987), Larry Rivers
(1923–2002), and Roy Lichtenstein
(1923–1997), reproduced, with satiric care, everyday objects and images of American popular culture—Coca-Cola bottles, soup cans, comic strips.
Today New York is a global center for the international art market. The Upper East Side has many art galleries,
and the downtown neighborhood of Chelsea
is known for its more than 200 art galleries that are home to modern art from both upcoming and established artists.
The industry is also present in neighborhoods known for their art galleries such as DUMBO
, where dealers representing both established and up-and-coming artists compete for sales with bigger exhibition spaces, better locations, and stronger connections to museums and collectors. Wall Street money and funds from philanthropists flow steadily into the art market, often prompting artists to move from gallery to gallery in pursuit of riches and fame.
Enriching and countering this mainstream commercial movement is the constant flux of underground movements, such as hip-hop art and graffiti, which engendered such artists as Keith Haring
and Jean-Michel Basquiat
, and continue to add visual texture and life to the atmosphere of the city.
Long Island City
is a rapidly flourishing art scene in New York, serving as home to the largest concentration of arts institutions outside of Manhattan. Its abundance of industrial warehouses provide ample studio and exhibition space for many renowned artists, museums and galleries.
New York has a law that requires no less than 1% of the first twenty million dollars of a building project, plus no less than one half of 1% of the amount exceeding twenty million dollars be allocated for art work in any public building that is owned by the city. The maximum allocation for any site is $400,000.
Many major artists have created public works in the city, including Jeff Koons
, Louise Bourgeois
, Nam June Paik
, and Jim Power the "Mosaic Man." Anish Kapoor
's Sky Mirror
, a highly reflective stainless steel dish nearly three stories tall, was on view at Rockefeller Center in September and October 2006.
In 2005 Christo and Jeanne-Claude
installed The Gates
, a site-specific art project inspired by traditional Japanese torii
gates. The installation consisted of 7,503 metal "gates" along 23 miles (37 km) of pathways in Central Park. From each gate hung a flag-shaped piece of saffron-colored nylon fabric.
The subway system also hosts several public art projects, including intricate tile mosaics and station signage.
Subversive public art trends have also coursed through New York. Toward the end of the 1960s the modern American graffiti
subculture began to form in Philadelphia
, 95 miles (153 km) south of New York.
By 1970, the center of graffiti innovation moved from Philadelphia to New York, where the graffiti art subculture inspired an artistic style and social philosophy dubbed "Zoo York
The name originated from a subway tunnel running underneath the Central Park Zoo
that was the haunt of very early "oldschool" graffiti writers like ALI
(Marc André Edmonds), founder of The Soul Artists. The subway tunnel became a scene where crews of Manhattan graffiti artists gathered at night. With greater law enforcement and aggressive cleaning of subway trains in the 1980s and 1990s, the graffiti movement in New York eventually faded from the subway.
New York's film industry is smaller than that of Hollywood
, but its billions of dollars in revenue makes it an important part of the city's economy and places it as the second largest center for the film industry in the United States.
New York was an epicenter of filmmaking in the earliest days of the American film industry, but the better year-round weather of Hollywood eventually saw California becoming the home of American cinema. The Kaufman-Astoria film studio in Queens, built during the silent film
era, was used by the Marx Brothers
and W. C. Fields
. As cinema moved west, much of the motion picture infrastructure in New York was used for the burgeoning television industry. Kaufman-Astoria eventually became the set for The Cosby Show
and Sesame Street
New York has undergone a renaissance in film-making with 276 independent and studio films in production in the city in 2006, an increase from 202 in 2004 and 180 in 2003.
More than a third of professional actors in the United States are based in New York.
While major studio productions are based in Hollywood, New York has become a capital of independent film. The city is home to a number of important film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival
and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, as well as major independent film companies like Miramax Films
. New York is also home to the Anthology Film Archives
, which preserves and exhibits hundreds of avant-garde works from the entire span of film history.
New York's municipally owned broadcast television service, NYC Media
, creates original programming that includes Emmy Award-winning shows like Blue Print New York
and Cool in Your Code
, as well as coverage of New York City government
. Other popular programs on NYC TV include music shows; New York Noise
showcases music videos of local, underground, and indie rock musicians as well as coverage of major music-related events in the city like the WFMU
Record Fair, interviews of New York icons (like The Ramones
and Klaus Nomi
), and comedian hosts (like Eugene Mirman
, Rob Huebel
, and Aziz Ansari
). The Bridge
, similarly, chronicles old school hip hop. The channel has won 14 New York Emmys and 14 National Telly awards.
The early 20th century saw the emergence of modern dance
in New York, a new, distinctively American art form. Perhaps the best known figure in modern dance, Martha Graham
, was a pupil of pioneer Ruth St. Denis
. Many of Graham's most popular works were produced in collaboration with New York's leading composers – Appalachian Spring
with Aaron Copland, for example. Merce Cunningham
, a former ballet student and performer with Martha Graham, presented his first New York solo concert with John Cage
in 1944. Influenced by Cage and embracing modernist ideology
processes, Cunningham introduced chance procedures
and pure movement
to choreography and Cunningham technique
to the cannon of 20th century dance techniques. Cunningham set the seeds for postmodern dance
with his non-linear, non-climactic, non-psychological abstract work. In these works each element is in and of itself expressive, and the observer determines what it communicates. George Balanchine
, one of the 20th century's foremost choreographers and the first pioneer of contemporary ballet
, formed a bridge between classical and modern ballet. Balanchine used flexed hands (and occasionally feet), turned-in legs, off-centered positions and non-classical costumes to distance himself from the classical and romantic ballet traditions. Balanchine also brought modern dancers in to dance with his company, the New York City Ballet
; one such dancer was Paul Taylor, who in 1959 performed in Balanchine's piece Episodes
. Another significant modern choreographer, Twyla Tharp
, choreographed Push Comes To Shove
for the American Ballet Theatre
under Mikhail Baryshnikov
's artistic directorship in 1976; in 1986 she created In The Upper Room
for her own company. Both these pieces were considered innovative for their use of distinctly modern movements melded with the characteristics of contemporary ballet such as the use of pointe shoes
and classically trained dancers.
New York has also historically been a center for African-American modern dance. Alvin Ailey
, a student of Lester Horton
(and later Martha Graham), spent several years working in both concert and theatre dance. In 1958 Ailey and a group of young African-American dancers formed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs annually at City Center Theater in New York. Ailey drew upon his memories of Texas, the blues, spirituals and gospel as inspiration. Bill T. Jones
, winner of a MacArthur "Genius" Award in 1994, choreographed for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, among others. Another significant African-American dancer, Pearl Primus
, made her debut on February 24, 1943 at the 92nd Street Y
as a social-protest dancer. Her concerns and expression fit into the landscape of the ongoing Harlem renaissance and gained much public support, and was immediately graced with attention after her first professional solo debut. Her dances were inspired by revolutionary African-American choreographer Katherine Dunham
. Primus became known for her singular ability to jump very high while dancing. She focused on matters such as oppression, racial prejudice, and violence.
New York was the birthplace of other dance forms, as well. Breakdance
became an influential street dance style that emerged as part of the Hip Hop Movement
in African-American and Puerto Rican communities in the South Bronx
in the early 1970s. It is arguably the best known of all hip hop dance styles. Popular speculations of the early 1980s suggest that breakdancing, in its organized fashion seen today, began as a method for rival gangs of the ghetto to mediate and settle territorial disputes.
In a turn-based showcase of dance routines, the winning side was determined by the dancers who could outperform the other by displaying a set of more complicated and innovative moves.
It later was through the highly energetic performances of the late funk legend James Brown
and the rapid growth of dance teams, like the Rock Steady Crew
of the Bronx, that the competitive ritual of gang warfare evolved into a pop-culture phenomenon receiving massive media attention. Parties, disco clubs, talent shows, and other public events became typical locations for breakdancers, including gang members for whom dancing served as a positive diversion from the threats of city life.
The advent of electric lighting led to elaborate theatre productions, and in the 1880s New York theaters on Broadway and along 42nd Street began to showcase a new stage form that came to be known as the Broadway musical. Strongly influenced by the feelings of immigrants to the city, these productions used song in narratives that often reflected themes of hope and ambition.
Many musicals in New York became seminal national cultural events, like the controversial 1937 staging of Marc Blitzstein
's labor union opera The Cradle Will Rock
, directed by Orson Welles
and produced by John Houseman
. Originally to open at the Maxine Elliott Theatre
with elaborate sets and a full orchestra, the production was shut down on opening night, and Welles, Housman, and Blitzstein scrambled to rent the Venice Theatre twenty blocks north. The crowds gathered to see the production walked up 7th Avenue, and by nine o'clock the Venice Theatre's 1,742 seats were sold out. Blitzstein began performing the musical solo, but after beginning the first number he was joined by cast members, who were forbidden by the Actor's Union to perform the piece "onstage", from their seats in the audience. Blitzstein and the cast performed the entire musical from the house. Many who attended the performance, including poet Laureate Archibald MacLeish
, thought it to be one of the most moving theatrical experiences of their lives. Performances of the musical to this day rarely use elaborate sets or an orchestra in homage to this event. Houseman and Wells went on to found the Mercury Theatre
and do radio drama
, in which they performed one of the most notable radio broadcasts of all time, The War of the Worlds
Professional Yiddish theatre
in New York, a major cultural influence in the city, began in 1882 with a troupe founded by Boris Thomashefsky
, an immigrant from Ukraine. The plays in the late 19th century were realistic, while in the beginning of the 20th century, they became more political and artistic in orientation. Some performers were well-respected enough to move back and forth between the Yiddish theatre and Broadway, including Bertha Kalich
and Jacob Adler
. Some of the major composers included Abraham Goldfaden
, Joseph Rumshinsky and Sholom Secunda
, while playwrights included David Pinski
, Solomon Libin, Jacob Michailovitch Gordin
and Leon Kobrin
Concurrently with Yiddish theatre was the development of Vaudeville
(a term thought to be a corruption of the old French word vaudevire
meaning an occasional or topical light popular song), a style of multi-act theatre which flourished from the 1880s through to the 1920s. An evening's schedule of performances (or "bill") could run the gamut from acrobats to mathematicians, from song-and-dance duos and Shakespeare to animal acts and opera. The usual date given for the "birth" of vaudeville is October 24, 1881, the night during which variety performer and theatre owner Tony Pastor
, in his effort to lure women into the male-dominated variety hall, famously staged the first bill of self-proclaimed "clean" vaudeville in New York. African American
audiences had their own Vaudeville circuits, as did speakers of Italian
. The Palace Theatre
on Broadway, described by its owner, Martin Beck
, as "the Valhalla
of vaudeville" opened with vaudeville shows from the Keith Circuit
and lured the best and brightest in vaudeville. Its shift to a full bill of movies on November 16, 1932 is generally regarded as the death of vaudeville.
Today the 39 largest theatres (with more than 500 seats) in New York are collectively known as "Broadway
" after the major thoroughfare
through the Theater District
, and are mostly located in the Times Square
vicinity. Many Broadway shows are world-famous, such as the musicals Cats
and The Phantom of the Opera.
Along with those of London's West End
, theaters in New York's Broadway district are often considered to be the most professional in the English language.
The subways of New York are also occasional venues for beauty pageants and guerrilla theater. The MTA's annual Miss Subways
contest ran from 1941 to 1976 and again in 2004 (under the revised name "Ms Subways"). Past Miss Subways winners include Eleanor Nash, an FBI clerk described by her poster that hung in subway cars in 1960 as "young, beautiful and expert with a rifle." The 2004 Ms Subways winner, Caroline Sanchez-Bernat, was an actress who played a role in Sunday Brunch 4
. The 35-minute piece of performance art
was a full enactment of a Sunday brunch — including crisp white tablecloth, spinach salad appetizer and attentive waiter in black tuxedo — performed aboard a southbound A train in 2000. With subway riders looking on, the actors chatted amiably about Christmas, exchanged gifts and signed for a package delivered by a United Parcel Service delivery man who entered the scene at the West 34th Street stop.
Several important movements originated in New York. One of the first American writers to gain critical acclaim in Europe, Washington Irving
, was a New Yorker whose History of New York
(1809) became a cultural touchstone for Victorian New York. Diedrich Knickerbocker, an old-fashioned Dutch New Yorker in Irvin's satire of chatty and officious logistical history, made "Knickerbocker"
a bye-word for quaint Dutch-descended New Yorkers, with their old-fashioned ways and their long-stemmed pipers and knee-breeches long after the fashion had turned to trousers. This served as the inspiration for the New York Knicks
's moniker, whose corporate name is the "New York Knickerbockers."
was part of the Harlem Renaissance that flourished in the 1920s.
The Harlem Renaissance
established the African-American literary canon in the United States. The zenith of this "flowering of Negro literature
," as James Weldon Johnson
called it, was between 1924, when Opportunity
magazine hosted a party for black writers where many white publishers were in attendance, and the Wall Street Crash of 1929
and the start of the Great Depression
. African-Americans of the northward Great Migration
and African and Caribbean immigrants converged in Harlem
, which became the most famous center of Negro life in the United States at that time. A militant black editor indicated in 1920 that "the intrinsic standard of Beauty and aesthetics does not rest in the white race" and that "a new racial love, respect, and consciousness may be created." The work of black Harlem writers sought to challenge the pervading racism
of the larger white community and often promoted progressive
politics and racial integration
. No singular style emerged; instead there was a mix ranging from the celebration of Pan-Africanism
, "high-culture" and "street culture," to new experimental forms in literature like modernism
, to Classical music
and improvisational jazz that inspired the new form of jazz poetry
The mid-20th century saw the emergence of The New York Intellectuals
, a group of American writers and literary critics who advocated leftist, anti-Stalinist political ideas and who sought to integrate literary theory
. Many of the group were students at the City College of New York
in the 1930s and associated with the left-wing political journal The Partisan Review
. Writer Nicholas Lemann
has described the New York Intellectuals as "the American Bloomsbury
". Writers often considered among the New York Intellectuals include Robert Warshow
, Philip Rahv
, William Phillips
, Mary McCarthy
, Dwight Macdonald
, Lionel Trilling
, Clement Greenberg
, Irving Kristol
, Sidney Hook
, Irving Howe
, Alfred Kazin
, and Daniel Bell
. The 1940s and 1950s also saw the rise in prominence of Ayn Rand
, who was based in New York for many years and whose novels The Fountainhead
and Atlas Shrugged
were both set in the city.
Over the years many literary institutions have developed in the city, including PEN America
, the largest of the international literary organization's centers. The PEN America plays an important role in New York's literary community and is active in defending free speech, the promotion of literature, and the fostering of international literary fellowship. Literary journals, including The Paris Review
, The New York Review of Books
, The New Criterion
, and New York Quarterly
are also important in the city's literary scene.
Contemporary writers based in the city, many of whom live in the Park Slope
neighborhood of Brooklyn, include Norman Mailer
, Barbara Garson
, Don DeLillo
, Jhumpa Lahiri
, Paul Auster
, Siri Hustvedt
, Jonathan Safran Foer
, Jonathan Lethem
, Thomas Pynchon
and many others. New York has also been a flourishing scene for Jewish American literature
, as well as for Puerto Rican
poets and writers, who call themselves "nuyoricans
" (a blending of the phrases "New York" and "Puerto Rican"). The landmark Nuyorican Poets Café
is a bastion of the Nuyorican Movement
, an intellectual movement involving poets, writers, musicians and artists of Puerto Rican descent, mostly notably the late Pedro Pietri
and Giannina Braschi
While the state has an official poet Laureate
, New York City does not. Instead, by tradition it hosts an annual "People's Poetry Gathering", curated by the City University of New York
and city poetry groups, in which ordinary New Yorkers offer their own lines to an epic poem for the city. This technique was also used in the creation of a spontaneous poetic response by New Yorkers to the September 11, 2001
attacks that became a travelling exhibition called Missing: Streetscape of a City in Mourning
. The poems, with 110 lines each for the 110 stories of the destroyed World Trade Center towers, were printed on black, billowing cotton banners over 25 feet (7.6 m) in height.
The American comic book
was invented in New York in the early 1930s as a way to cheaply repackage and resell newspaper comic strips
, which also experienced their major period of creative growth and development in New York papers in the first decades of the 20th century. Immigrant culture in the city was the central topic and inspiration for comics from the days of Hogan's Alley
, the Yellow Kid
, The Katzenjammer Kids
and beyond. Virtually all creators and workers employed in the early comic book industry were based in New York, from publishers to artists, many of them coming from immigrant Jewish families in the Lower East Side and Brooklyn.
It can be argued that superheroes
, the uniquely American contribution to comic books, owe their origin to New York, despite the fact that the first superhero, Superman
, was created by two artists from Cleveland, Ohio
. Even when not based explicitly in New York, superhero stories often make use of recognizable stand-ins for the city, such as Metropolis
or Gotham City
(Gotham being a common nickname for New York). The form and narrative conventions of superhero stories frequently dictate New York-sized cities as the settings, even generically.
became famous for breaking with convention and setting their stories explicitly in a "real" New York, giving recognizable addresses for the homes of their major characters. Peter Parker, Spider-Man
, lived with his Aunt May
in Forest Hills, Queens. The Baxter Building
, long-time home of the Fantastic Four
, was located at 42nd and Madison Avenue. In 2007, the City of New York declared April 30 May 6 "Spider-Man Week" in honor of the release of Spider-Man 3
. Both of the previous Spider-Man movies made heavy use of New York as a backdrop and included crowd scenes filled with "stereotypical New Yorkers."
New York also served as an inspiration and home for much of America's non-superhero comic books, famously starting with cartoonist and Brooklyn native Will Eisner
's many depictions of everyday life among poor, working-class and immigrant New Yorkers. Today New York's alternative comics scene is thriving, including native New Yorkers Art Spiegelman
, Ben Katchor
and Dean Haspiel
, graduates of the School of Visual Arts
cartooning program (the first accredited cartooning program in the country) and many others.
Meanwhile, New York's comic book history has worked its way into other facets of New York culture, from the Pop Art of Roy Lichtenstein
to the recent literary production of Brooklyn-based Jonathan Lethem
and Dave Eggers
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
is one of the world's largest and most important art museums, and is located on the eastern edge of Central Park. It also comprises a building complex known as "The Cloisters" in Fort Tryon Park at the north end of Manhattan Island overlooking the Hudson River which features medieval art. The Museum of Modern Art
(MoMA) is often considered a rival to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Brooklyn Museum
is the second largest art museum in New York and one of the largest in the United States. One of the premier art institutions in the world, its permanent collection includes more than one-and-a-half million objects, from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art, and the art of many other cultures.
There are many smaller important galleries and art museums in the city. Among these is the Frick Collection
, one of the preeminent small art museums in the United States, with a very high-quality collection of old master paintings housed in 16 galleries within the former mansion of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick
. The collection features some of the best-known paintings by major European artists, as well as numerous works of sculpture and porcelain. It also has furniture, enamel, and carpets.
The Jewish Museum of New York
was first established in 1904, when the Jewish Theological Seminary received a gift a 26 Jewish ceremonial art
objects by Judge Mayer Sulzberger. The museum now boasts a collection 28,000 objects including paintings, sculpture, archaeological artifacts, and many other pieces important to the preservation of Jewish history and culture.
Founded in 1969 by a group of Puerto Rican
artists, educators, community activists and civic leaders, El Museo del Barrio
is located at the top of Museum Mile
in Spanish Harlem
, a neighborhood also called 'El Barrio'. Originally, the museum was a creation of the Nuyorican Movement
and Civil Rights Movement, and primarily functioned as a neighborhood institution serving Puerto Ricans. With the increasing size of New York's Latino population, the scope of the museum is expanding.
In recent years New York has seen a major building boom among its cultural institutions. Long Island City
in Queens is an increasingly thriving location for the arts, home to P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and SculptureCenter for example. SculptureCenter
, New York's only non-profit exhibition space dedicated to contemporary and innovative sculpture, re-located from Manhattan's Upper East Side to a former trolley repair shop in LIC, renovated by artist/designer Maya Lin in 2002. The museum commissions new work and presents challenging exhibits by emerging and established, national and international artists and hosts a diverse range of public programs including lectures, dialogues, and performances.
In 2006 more than 60 arts institutions spread across the five boroughs, from smaller community organizations like the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
in Brooklyn to major institutions like The Morgan Library & Museum
, underwent architectural renovation or new construction. In aggregate the projects represented more than $2.8 billion in investment.
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs budget for building projects was the largest in the city's history: $865 million from 2006 through 2010, up from a $339.6 million planned budget for the 2001-4 period.
The Alliance for the Arts, a nonpartisan, nonprofit arts advocacy and research group, reported in 2003 that the economic impact of cultural construction projects in New York — including factors like jobs created and collateral spending in the city — between 1997 and 2002 was $2.3 billion, with an anticipated impact of $2.7 billion for the period from 2003 through 2006.
To some observers, New York, with its large immigrant
population, seems more of an international city than something specifically "American". But to others, the city's very openness to newcomers makes it the archetype of a "nation of immigrants". The term "melting pot
" derives from the play The Melting Pot
, by Israel Zangwill
, who in 1908 adapted Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
to a setting in the Lower East Side, where droves of immigrants from diverse European nations in the early 1900s learned to live together in tenements and row houses for the first time. In 2000, 36% of the city's population was foreign-born. Among American cities this proportion was higher only in Los Angeles and Miami.
While the immigrant communities in those cities are dominated by a few nationalities, in New York no single country or region of origin dominates. The seven largest countries of origin are the Dominican Republic
The cultural diversity of New York can be seen in the range of official city holidays. With the growth of New York's South Asian community, Diwali
, the Hindu
Festival of Lights, was recently added to the calendar.
As in many major cities, immigrants to New York often congregate in ethnic enclaves
where they can talk and shop and work with people from their country of origin. Throughout the five boroughs the city is home to many distinct communities of Indians
, Puerto Ricans
, Hasidic Jews
, Latin Americas
and many others. Many of the largest citywide annual events are parades celebrating the heritage of New York's ethnic communities. Attendance at the biggest ones by city and state politicians is politically obligatory. These include the St Patrick's Day Parade
, probably the top Irish heritage parade in the Americas; the Puerto Rican Day Parade
, which often draws up to 3 million spectators; the West Indian Labor Day Parade
, among the largest parades in North America and the largest event in New York; and the Chinese New Year Parade. New Yorkers of all stripes gather together for these spectacles. Other significant parades include the Gay Pride Parade
, Greenwich Village Halloween Parade and the Coney Island Mermaid Parade
, all icons in the city's counter-culture pantheon.
New York has a larger Jewish
population than any other city in the world, larger than even Jerusalem
. Approximately one million New Yorkers, or about 13%, are Jewish.
As a result, New York culture has borrowed certain elements of Jewish culture, such as bagels
. The city is also home to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
, the headquarters of Orthodox Jewish
movements, one of three American campuses of Hebrew Union College
of Reform Judaism
, Yeshiva University
, and the home of the Anti-Defamation League
. Temple Emanu-El
, the largest Jewish house of worship
in the world, became the first Reform congregation in America in 1845. It is also the home of such Jewish comedians, as Woody Allen
and Jerry Seinfeld
Festivals and parades
New York, with its many ethnic communities and cultural venues, has a large number of major parades and street festivals. SummerStage
in Central Park is one of about 1,200 free concerts, dance, theater, and spoken word events citywide sponsored by the City Parks Foundation
The Village Halloween Parade
is an annual holiday parade and street pageant presented the night of every Halloween
(October 31) in Greenwich Village. Stretching more than a mile, this cultural event draws two million spectators, fifty thousand costumed participants, dancers, artists and circus performers, dozens of floats bearing live bands and other musical and performing acts, and a worldwide television audience of one hundred million.
The Feast of San Gennaro
, originally a one-day religious commemoration, is now an 11-day street fair held in mid-September in Manhattan's Little Italy
. Centered on Mulberry Street
, which is closed to traffic for the occasion, the festival generally features parades, street vendors, sausages and zeppole
, games, and a religious candlelit procession which begins immediately after a celebratory mass
at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. Another festival is held with the same attractions at New York's other Little Italy, in the Fordham
area in the Bronx. The streets are closed to traffic and the festivities begin early in the morning and proceed late into the night.
A crowd in Times Square
awaits the countdown to the start of 2006.
A major component of New Year's Eve
celebrations in the United States is the "ball dropping
" on top of One Times Square
that is broadcast live on national television. A 1,070-pound, 6-foot-diameter Waterford Crystal
ball, high above Times Square
, is lowered starting at 23:59:00 and reaching the bottom of its tower at the stroke of midnight (00:00:00). New York Harbor
From 1982 to 1988, New York dropped a large apple in recognition of its nickname, "The Big Apple." Dick Clark
hosted televised coverage of the event from 1972 to 2011 with his show, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve
. For about four decades, until one year before his death in 1977, Canadian violinist and bandleader Guy Lombardo
and his Royal Canadians serenaded the United States from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
on Park Avenue. Their recording of the traditional song Auld Lang Syne
still plays as the first song of the new year in Times Square.
New York has been described as the "Capital of Baseball".
There have been 35 Major League Baseball World Series
and 73 pennants won by New York teams. It is also one of only five metro areas (Los Angeles
, and the San Francisco Bay Area being the others) to have two major league teams. Additionally, there have been 14 World Series in which two New York teams played each other, known as the Subway Series
and occurring most recently in 2000
. No other metropolitan area has had this happen more than once (Chicago in 1906
, St. Louis in 1944
, and the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989
Many sports are associated with New York's immigrant communities. Stickball
, a street version of baseball, was popularized by youths in the 1930s. A street in Clason Point
in the Bronx has been renamed Stickball Boulevard, as tribute to New York's most known street sport.
In popular culture
Because of its sheer size and cultural influence, New York has been the subject of many different, and often contradictory, portrayals in mass media. From the sophisticated and worldly metropolis seen in many Woody Allen
films, to the hellish and chaotic urban jungle depicted in such movies as Martin Scorsese
's Taxi Driver
, New York has served as the backdrop for virtually every conceivable viewpoint on big city life.
In the early years of film, New York was characterized as urbane and sophisticated. By the city's crisis period in the 1970s and early 1980s, however, films like Midnight Cowboy
, The French Connection
, Dog Day Afternoon
, Taxi Driver
, Marathon Man
, Dressed to Kill
, and Death Wish
showed New York as full of chaos and violence. With the city's renaissance in the 1980s and 1990s came new portrayals on television; Friends
, and Sex and the City
showed life in the city to be glamorous and interesting. Nonetheless a disproportionate number of crime dramas, such as Law & Order
, continue to make criminality in the city as their subject even as New York has become the safest large city
in the United States in the last two decades.[clarification needed]
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Partial list of major international cultural centers in New York City:
Last edited on 26 February 2021, at 06:43
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