A whirlwind tour through the history of the "West Side Story" neighborhood from its first settlement through to the construction of Lincoln Center.
The Upper West Side changed quickly at the turn of the 19th century. Advances in building techniques allowed for the construction of large apartment buildings which appealed to those seeking relief from the overcrowding of downtown. Their migration was aided by the opening of a subway line along Seventh Avenue and Broadway in 1904 and the city's first elevated train on Ninth Avenue.
The neighborhood most associated with West Side Story spans north of 59th Street, south of 72nd Street, west of Columbus Avenue and east of West End was called San Juan Hill in the first few decades of the 20th century. Though its origins are uncertain, the name does not come from the Puerto Rican capital city. Some residents did migrate from Puerto Rico, but the neighborhood was predominately African American.
Robert Moses, city planner and head of the Committee on Slum Clearance, decided in 1956 to raze San Juan Hill. Calling the neighborhood "the worst slum in New York," Moses's plan displaced thousands of low-income residents for the construction of new apartment buildings and a large performing arts center.
All objects included in this exhibit come from the collections at the Museum of the City of New York.
Exhibition curated by Morgen Stevens-Garmon.