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VIDEO: Jake Gyllenhaal, Victoria Clark & More Celebrate 75 Years of City Center


City Center alumni Jake Gyllenhaal, Norm Lewis, Victoria Clark, Vanessa Williams and more are helping the historic institution to celebrate 75 years at the center of the arts. Check out a history of City Center below!

The landmark 75th Anniversary Season pays tribute to the institution's past and celebrates its dynamic role in the arts today.

Originally built in 1923 by the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (The Shriners) as a meeting hall called Mecca Temple, the distinctive neo?Moorish theater in Midtown Manhattan known as New York City Center was saved from the wrecking ball by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and City Council President Newbold Morris, reopening on December 11, 1943 as Manhattan's first performing arts center. Charged with the civic mission to present the best in the performing arts for all New Yorkers, "the people's theater" served as a place where dance, theater, opera, and music could all be enjoyed under one roof. In the years that followed, luminaries like Leonard Bernstein, Barbara Cook, José Ferrer, Helen Hayes, Marcel Marceau, Paul Robeson, Beverly Sills, and Orson Welles would all perform on the City Center stage. George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein famously established New York City Ballet, Laszlo Halasz founded New York City Opera, the Joffrey Ballet began a thirty?year residency, and the list continues. Seventy?five years on, City Center remains at the center of the arts in New York.

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