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Secrets of New York

The ultimate insider's guide to the best-kept secrets of NYC's must-see places and buzzed-about people.

Carnegie Hall has been known for its impeccable

Carnegie Hall has been known for its impeccable acoustics but after a renovation in 1986, concert-goers swore that the sound was a bit off. And they were right! The culprit? A slab of concrete found underneath the stage nearly a decade later. "They opened stage floor, found the cement, took it away and the sound came back," said Gino Francesconi, director of Carnegie Hall's archives. (Credit: Getty)

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Secrets of Carnegie Hall

881 7th Ave., New York, NY 10019

Oh if these walls could talk, well, they would probably sing.

When you think about the famous acts who have graced Carnegie Hall -- George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland and Johnny Cash -- this New York City landmark clearly has plenty of stories to tell.

To uncover some of its secrets, amNewYork went on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the hall, from its lesser-known underground concert space to its new rooftop garden.

Here are just some of the hidden gems and interesting stories we discovered about Andrew Carnegie's world-renowned "Music Hall," which came extremely close to being demolished.

Liza Minnelli reigns as the queen of Carnegie.

Credit: Getty

The queen of Carnegie

Liza Minnelli reigns as the queen of Carnegie. The singer holds the record for most consecutive sold-out performances (17) at the hall, according to Gino Francesconi, Carnegie's director of archives. Minnelli first made her debut at Carnegie in 1979, setting a record with 10 sold-out performances, but in June 1987 she beat her own record and this one remains unbroken. (During one of Minnelli's Carnegie engagements, a then-20-year-old Francesconi said he was pulled into working the bar that night and Liza's father taught him the proper way to make a rum and coke.)

Want to know if those stories about your

Credit: Carnegie Hall

Did they REALLY play Carnegie?

Want to know if those stories about your great uncle Earl playing Carnegie are true? Well, now you can look that up by using the "Performance History Search" tool via carnegiehall.org. The hall only started digitizing its huge collection of archival materials, which includes photographs, program books, posters and recordings, in July 2012, so the online database is not complete. But right now, you can search through records spanning between 1891 and 1955. Just type in a name of a performer or composer you want to find. Or for fun, see what happens when you type your own last name in. You could discover you had some talented ancestors.

Unless you've gotten a bird's eye view of

Credit: Carnegie Hall

The 'secret' garden

Unless you've gotten a bird's eye view of Carnegie Hall or rode the elevator to the hall's ninth floor, you probably didn't know about the new rooftop garden terrace. It was added during the recent Studio Towers Renovation Project and opened in the fall of 2014. The hall uses the space to host receptions before and after some of its concerts. It's also a gathering space for performers, concertgoers, students, staff and teacher, and it's available for private events with rental of the Weill Terrace Room.

Carnegie Hall has undergone multiple renovations since it

Credit: Carnegie Hall

The missing building plans

Carnegie Hall has undergone multiple renovations since it was first constructed in 1890, but the contractors have had to do the work without a key piece of information: the original architectural plans. According to the hall's archivist Gino Francesconi, most of the drawings have been missing for quite some time.

March 31, 1960 was supposed to be the

Credit: Tara Conry

It was nearly demolished

March 31, 1960 was supposed to be the day that Carnegie Hall was demolished. By then, Andrew Carnegie had passed away, and the hall had been sold to realtor Robert Simon, who then also died and left control of the venue to his son, Robert Jr. Struggling to keep the hall running, the younger Simon agreed to sell the building to developers who planned to raze it and erect a 44-story office tower on the site. A rendering of their plans was featured in a 1957 issue of Life magazine, pictured above. But in the 11th hour, a group called the Citizens Committee for Carnegie Hall, was able to stop the impending demolition. A few months later, as a result of special state legislation, New York City purchased Carnegie Hall for $5 million, and a new nonprofit called The Carnegie Hall Corporation was formed to run it.

You know The Beatles: John Lennon, Ringo Starr,

Credit: Tara Conry

The Beatles blunder

You know The Beatles: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and .. John McCartney? Well, that's what the program read when the British group played Carnegie Hall on Feb. 12, 1964. Paul McCartney's first name had accidentally been changed to John, so when he autographed the program you can see he tried to cover up the area by signing directly over the misprint. The program is one of many artifacts on display inside Carnegie Hall's Rose Museum.

Notice anything unique about this backstage photo of

Credit: Tara Conry

Putting the rock in Rock n' Roll

Notice anything unique about this backstage photo of Carnegie's Zankel Hall? The wall is actually bedrock, Manhattan Schist to be specific. This extremely strong and durable rock type was formed about 450 million years ago and provides a solid foundation, according to the New York City Parks Department. To construct Carnegie, workers blasted through the bedrock with explosives, according to Francesconi, but that wasn't an option when carving out the Zankel concert hall. To expand the existing space, they had to take a slower and more careful approach, excavating 8,000 cubic yards of Manhattan schist and debris, "enough to fill 363 New York City garbage trucks," The New York Times reported.

Carnegie Hall has been known for its impeccable

Credit: Getty

The sound-killer under the stage

Carnegie Hall has been known for its impeccable acoustics but after a renovation in 1986, concert-goers swore that the sound was a bit off. And they were right! The culprit? A slab of concrete found underneath the stage nearly a decade later. "They opened stage floor, found the cement, took it away and the sound came back," said Gino Francesconi, director of Carnegie Hall's archives.

And while the hall is now named after

Credit: Carnegie Hall

Mrs. Carnegie's hall

And while the hall is now named after Andrew Carnegie, it may be more appropriate to refer to it as Mrs. Carnegie's hall. It's believed that Carnegie, then a newlywed, built the music hall as a wedding gift to his wife, Louise Whitfield Carnegie, says Gino Francesconi, director of the hall's archives. Another fun fact: The couple signed one of America's first prenuptial agreements, he added. When Andrew died in 1919, he left his wife her personal assets, a small cash gift, their Manhattan townhouse and their holiday home in Scotland, Skibo Castle, Forbes reported. And she sold Carnegie Hall to a New York City realtor.

But if you can't book a gig inside

Credit: Tara Conry

Three ways to play Carnegie

But if you can't book a gig inside the main 2,804-seat Stern Auditorium like Liza, there are others ways to say you've played Carnegie Hall. Many people don't realize there are two other performance spaces -- the 599-seat Zankel Hall (pictured), and the 268-seat Weill Recital Hall -- located inside Carnegie. Zankel is located beneath the Stern auditorium and Weill is practically next door to the main concert venue, but thanks to impeccable sound-proofing, performances can take place in all three spaces simultaneously without interfering with one another.

If your shared love of music brought you

Credit: Carnegie Hall

Weddings for musical lovers

If your shared love of music brought you together, perhaps a wedding at a world famous music hall is something you desire. Well, in that case you might be happy to hear that yes, Carnegie Hall does host wedding receptions thanks to the building's latest renovation. Weddings, as well as other catered private affairs, can be held inside one of three reception spaces including the Weill Terrace Room, pictured. It accommodates up to 250 people and is adjacent to the garden terrace.

The next time you're seated inside Carnegie's main

Credit: Tara Conry

Angels and demons

The next time you're seated inside Carnegie's main hall, waiting for a concert to start, let your eyes wander to the walls and ceiling. Hidden within the architectural details are angels and devils. See how many you can spot.

Carnegie Hall may be one of the most

Credit: Carnegie Hall

It wasn't always Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall may be one of the most well-known New York City landmarks today, but for a few years, the venue went by a different name. When it opened in 1891, it was simply called "Music Hall." That's what the programs and even the sign outside the building read. It wasn't until the 1894-1895 season, that the hall's Board of Trustees rebranded it, naming it after its financier, Andrew Carnegie.

What's the best way to see a sold-out

Credit: Tara Conry

The unlocked door

What's the best way to see a sold-out act at Carnegie Hall? Well, if you were a student studying there you knew about this door, which leads to the balcony of the main hall. Up until the mid-1970s, Francesconi said this door was always unlocked and students would often duck out of class and sneak into rehearsals this way.

To get into the underground nightclub adjacent to

Credit: Tara Conry

The secret speakeasy

To get into the underground nightclub adjacent to Carnegie Hall, you needed more than just an invitation or a password. Guests to Club Richman, which was dubbed "New York's smartest rendezvous," had to have their own special key. They would insert it into one of the keyholes on this lock while the doorman put his key into the other, and if both keys worked, you could go in. But when Andrew Carnegie's widow found out about the club, which functioned as a speakeasy, according to Gino Francesconi, director of Carnegie's archives, she wasn't happy. She filed a suit attempting to shut it down, but the club stayed open until the end of prohibition, he said. Actress Joan Crawford actually got her start dancing there, he added.

Actor Marlon Brando lived in one of the

Credit: Tara Conry

Marlon Brando's hideout

Actor Marlon Brando lived in one of the studio apartments once connected to Carnegie Hall while filming the 1954 movie "On the Waterfront." But Brando often could be found inside his neighbor's apartment, hiding out from his adoring fans, Francesconi said. To show his gratitude to her for providing him refuge, Brando sent the neighbor a dozen roses with this note attached: "In appreciation for courageous perseverance displayed in Hall Battling and neighborliness above and beyond the call of duty." He signed it "Not so Private Citizen, Marlon Brando."

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