new york city arts and culture guide
Widely recognized as the cultural capital of the United States, the culture of New York City has been shaped by centuries of immigration as well as the sheer size and variety of the city. Known variously as the epicentre for jazz, Bohemianism, musical theatre, abstract expressionism, the Beat Generation, and American fashion, the Big Apple offers endless cultural amenities to both its residents and visitors to the city.
New York City’s literary tradition stretches back to Washington Irving, who was one of the first American writers to gain acclaim in Europe. The city’s has produced a great number of fiction authors, including Henry James, Scott Fitzgerald, Ayn Rand, Don DeLillo, and Norman Mailer. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s gave notoriety to Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Zora Neale Hurston, and the Beat Generation of the 1950s, centred upon Greenwich Village, included the New York writers Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso. New York remains the home of many major publishing companies and literary institutions, and the city retains a flourishing fiction and poetry scene.
The performing arts culture of New York City is perhaps the most diverse and accessible of any world city. Broadway contains 39 large theatres that, along with London’s West End, represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the Western world. In addition to this, the city’s countless off-Broadway theatres regularly prepare avant-garde and innovative shows that are easier and more affordable to access. New York City is also America’s centre for traditional and contemporary dance. The New York City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and the American Dance Theater are internationally-renowned dance companies. New York City is also the birthplace of many famous dance styles, from the foxtrot to modern breakdancing.
The most famous aspect of New York City’s culture might be its musical traditional, which is unmatched in depth and diversity. The New York Philharmonic, one of a handfull of prestigious orchestras to play regular concerts in the city, sets the standard for American classical music performance, while the Metropolitan and New York City Operas stage grand performances of world-famous operas year-round. Indeed, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a veritable mecca for classical music and opera enthusiasts. New York City is also the birthplace of Jazz, and the form is still very much alive in the many small Jazz clubs that are found in the basements of Harlem and Greenwich Village. The city has also been the home to the punk rock and hip-hop scene, and has a
New York City’s museums are the finest in North America. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and most important art museums, containing over two million works of art from around the world. The Museum of Modern Art is regarded as the world’s leading museum of modern art. The city’s vibrant art scene, which has been marked by greats such as Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, and Mark Rothko, is expressed in the city’s more than 500 galleries. The city’s other popular museums and historical sites include the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Guggenheim Institute.
The diverse cultural elements of the city have been formed by centuries of immigration of peoples from all corners of the world. Over one third of the city’s population is foreign-born, and there are ethnic groups in the city from almost every country in the world. This diversity gives the city an unparalleled richness of ethnic cuisine and shopping, spread throughout the city and concentrated in a number of ethnic districts — most notably Little Italy and Chinatown. Many ethnic festivals are celebrated throughout the year, including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Feast of San Gennaro, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the West Indian Labor Day Parade.