What does on in the different areas?
Part of our Spotlight on New York Publishing
As part of our focus on publishing in New York, we’ve explored some of the cultural history in this rich and dynamic city. There are a number of reasons why so many book publishers popped up in the Big Apple, not least the strong appreciation for arts, music, and learning in this cultural melting pot. Without further ado, here’s a very brief history of culture in NYC.
The world’s cultural capital
As the most populous city in the US, New York City boasts an incredibly rich cultural life. This economic powerhouse, which plays a crucial role in the US’s financial, entertainment and publishing industries, is home to well over 8.5 million people.
NYC has long been the US’s immigration hub, as symbolised by the impressive Statue of Liberty. What’s more, tens of millions of tourists enjoy holidays there every year. New York City’s artists, musicians and writers therefore have a wealth of ideas, customs, personal stories and social histories to draw on when looking for inspiration.
Little wonder, then, that NYC is often thought of as the world’s cultural capital.
Each borough with a unique character
Much like London, New York City has several distinct areas with distinct qualities. It consists of five boroughs, each of which has its own special cultural significance.
NYC’s northernmost borough, a mixture of open spaces and urban areas, has a rich cultural heritage, especially in relation to ground-breaking and feel-good styles of music.
In the 1950s and 1960s, African-American, Caribbean and Latin music went from strength to strength in the Bronx. Pianist Herbie Hancock is among the stars whose careers began there.
The Bronx made another major contribution to culture when, in the early 1970s, it became the birthplace of hip hop and rap, thanks to musical experimentation at neighbourhood parties. The South Bronx Culture Trail celebrates the area’s importance to the music scene. From Dizzy Gillespie’s jazz to The Dixie Club’s hip hop gatherings, the Bronx has it all.
Brooklyn’s waterfront, iconic bridge and diverse neighbourhoods have long inspired great writers. Nineteenth-century poet Walt Whitman penned Crossing Brooklyn Ferry; Betty Smith’s 1943 novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, was a publishing sensation; Colm Tóibín’s award-winning 2009 novel, Brooklyn, was adapted for the big screen by Nick Hornby.
Today, writers and other creative minds are drawn to Park Slope, an elegant area close to major cultural institutions such as Brooklyn Museum, which has one of the US’s biggest art collections. It celebrates US artists, including Edward Hopper, while also looking further afield with exhibitions such as ‘Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn’.
With the Empire State Building, Times Square and Wall Street, the streets and skyline of NYC’s smallest borough are instantly recognisable.
Manhattan has been the beating heart of the city’s cultural life for decades. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, African-American literature and art captured people’s attention. The borough was also the setting for the mid-twentieth-century pop art movement, which made Andy Warhol a household name. Today, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art ensure that Manhattan’s artistic heritage continues to be admired.
The borough is also a hotspot for companies that contribute to literary culture: Penguin Random House, Macmillan Learning, The New York Times and more reside there.
New York City’s largest, most diverse borough was named the best US tourist destination by Lonely Planet last year. The travel guide publisher praised Queens’s vibrant arts scene, as embodied by the Museum of the Moving Image’s exhibitions about everything from film to arcade games and Kaufman Arts District, which supports emerging talents.
Queens has made a tremendous contribution to jazz, thanks to its strong association with legends including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. The latter has founded The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, which nurtures the talents of future stars.
The city’s southernmost borough features a plethora of museums. They encompass subjects as diverse as Tibetan art and local photographer Alice Austen, who chronicled daily life around Staten Island and elsewhere, beginning in the late nineteenth century.
Visual art continues to play a major role in Staten Island’s community, thanks to initiatives such as the Curiosity Project, a pop-up art studio. The borough has a gentler pace of life than the rest of NYC. It’s the perfect place to enjoy quiet contemplation and culture.
Our interest in New York
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