The Town Hall occupies a very important place in the history of New York City and of the nation. It was built in 1921 by the suffragist group, The League for Political Education, as a place where members of the public could be educated on the many important social and political issues of the day. Symbolically, the 19th Amendment was passed during the building’s completion, and it stood as a testament to the power of public assembly and discourse, a symbol of optimism for the years to come.
The outstanding acoustics of the Hall were discovered accidentally, during a performance by Spanish violinist Joan Manen; later a series of concerts by Richard Strauss would give credence to the venue as an ideal setting for musical concerts and other performances. Pivotal moments in the venue’s history include poet Edna St. Vincent Millay’s public debut in 1928, the New York debut of African American contralto Marian Anderson (after being denied the opportunity to perform elsewhere in the city), and the controversial arrest of birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. Other major figures in 20th century social and cultural life to have graced Town Hall include Eleanor Roosevelt, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Buckminster Fuller, Leonard Bernstein, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Though today less of a hub for political discourse, Town Hall continues to host a diverse array of performances in a variety of disciplines. Regular event series include the Spring Series (formerly Not Just Jazz), Feature Film Seminar Series, Broadway by the Year, Summer Broadway Festival, Broadway Cabaret Festival, and a series of educational performances for children. The Town Hall is also an educational center of sorts, having served over one million children in various programs, including an affiliation with TheatreWorks/USA, and Morning Performances, a free series for public school students in grades 3 to 8.
Town Hall Information
- Public Transportation: Very good (easily accessible by subway lines N, Q, R, S, 1, 2, 3, and 7 at 42nd Street/Times Square; B, D, F, and M at 42nd Street/Bryant Park; A, C, and E at 42nd Street/Port Authority; and buses M1–M5, M7, M20, M42, M104)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: Programming includes musical theater events, concerts, film screenings and seminars, children’s educational programming, comedy and other events
- Ticket Prices: Vary based on program. Sign up with Email Club for special offers. Shows also sometimes available on Goldstar.com
- Membership: Membership begins at $500. Member benefits include two tickets to selected productions and gala performance/dinner for two.