A little over a week ago, while visiting Lincoln Center, I photographed this building at the corner of 66th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. But millions of music and television fans would scoff at the idea of the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts as any old building.
The easiest way to remember it is as the inspiration for the fictional setting of the 1980 film Fame, as well as the TV series spinoff that ran from 1982 to 1987. But even that might not indicate the full star quality of this specialized secondary school. The following is an extremely partial list of famous alumni: Jennifer Aniston, Adrien Brody, Ellen Barkin, Hal Linden, Cy Coleman, Carole Bayer Sager James Burrows, Liza Minnelli, Janis Ian, Laura Nyro, Suzanne Vega...I could go on and on.
If the school has an unwieldly name, it’s because it’s actually the union of two institutions founded separately: the High School of Music and Art, founded by New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia in 1936, and the School of Performing Arts, created in 1948. Lincoln Center's creation in the 1960s provided the impetus for amalgamating the two institutions into this, one of four specialized high schools in New York City.
The building that you’re looking at now opened in 1984, with a state-of-the-art concert hall and theater. Well, the best and brightest who enter this highly competitive high school deserved no less.