Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Archives Exhibit

Thelonious Monk’s San Juan Hill, Nina Simone’s Lincoln Square


On view in the Karen and Richard LeFrak Lobby of David Geffen Hall

The re-imagined David Geffen Hall includes a multimedia exhibit developed from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts archives as part of our work to document and understand the story of the neighborhoods of San Juan Hill and Lincoln Square, as well as our role in their histories. The exhibit, which is located in the west corridor of the main lobby, incorporates text and images that tell one story about the neighborhoods. It occupies a 20-foot gray wall, and comprises two black, white, gray, and gold print panels measuring a total of 17.5 feet, plus a digital slideshow.

The exhibit considers an intimate source, the biographies of performing artists, as a way to understand San Juan Hill and the Lincoln Square neighborhood. Accounts of Thelonious Monk’s life are rich in details about San Juan Hill. He lived in San Juan Hill, and then Lincoln Square, from about 1922 to 1975. He performed at Philharmonic Hall in late 1963, which resulted in Big Band and Quartet in Concert (1964), the first live jazz album recorded at Lincoln Center. Biographies of Nina Simone reveal she lived in Lincoln Square. She overlapped with Monk in the early 1970s at a significant moment in her career. Around this time, Simone was making performance history at Lincoln Center, appearing on at least six occasions from 1966 to 1973, more than any other Black performer of the time period, making her a significant figure as Lincoln Center programming began to embrace musical forms beyond classical.

Taken together, Monk and Simone and their legacies shed light on one hundred years of Black creative contributions to San Juan Hill, Lincoln Square, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

View PDFs of the full exhibit by clicking on the links below.

In English:


En Español:


Image credits: top left, photo by and courtesy of Marcel Fleiss; bottom left, NYC Parks Photo Archive; top right and bottom right, photos by Susanne Faulkner Stevens, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts archives.

Special thanks to the Nina Simone Charitable Trust and the Thelonious Monk estate.