Urban Omnibus: “Finding New York in West Side Story”


What is there of New York City in West Side Story? Within the libretto of the piece, no references are ever made to any city landmarks, neighborhoods, streets, or even the city itself. In Carnegie Hall’s production of West Side Story, the names of locations are announced by members of the ensemble, and they’re as generic as could be: “the drugstore,” “the bridal shop.” The rumble between the Sharks and Jets takes place “under the highway.” The one overt reference to New York is in the script, where under “Setting,” the text says: “The action takes place on the West Side of New York City during the last days of summer.”

The architectural publication Urban Omnibus reached out to me asking for an investigation on whether West Side Story holds up today, even though my knowledge of architecture is very rudimentary. Luckily, the article was more dramaturgy than brick-and-mortar criticism. You can read the rest of the story here.


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