Audobon Terrace in Washington Heights is the spiritual precursor to Lincoln Center as a centralized complex of cultural institutions. The facility is bordered by 155th Street, 156th Street, Broadway and Riverside Drive and was conceived by philanthropist Archer M. Huntington, son of Collis P. Huntington who owned the Central Pacific Railroad and the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Companies. The site was a family affair, with the master plan laid out in 1908 by Charles Pratt Huntington and with most of the major statues on the grounds executed by Anna Vaughn Huntington. Archer Huntington gradually purchased Audubon Park (which was built on the estate of John James Audubon) and construction of the complex was timed to coincide with the completion of the IRT subway line under Broadway (the complex is adjacent to the 155th Street stop).
The complex originally included The Hispanic Society (opened 1908), The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (opened 1923), The American Numismatic Society (opened 1908), The American Geographical Society, The Church of Our Lady of Esperanza (consecrated 1912) and the Museum of the American Indian-Heye Foundation (opened 1922).
The Geographical Society moved west in the early 1970s and their building became Boricua College. In 1994, the Museum of the American Indian (now part of the Smithsonian Institute) moved downtown to the George Gustav Heye Center in the old U.S. Customs House. The American Neumismatic Society moved downtown in 2004. Although the complex retains much of its original beauty in a faded form, it seems a bit out of place in the middle of what is now a rather modest community of immigrants.
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