Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at the Ground-Breaking Ceremonies for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York City.

May 14, 1959

Mayor Wagner, Governor Wilson, Commissioner Moses, Mr. Rockefeller, and Friends and Supporters of the Lincoln Square Project, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Before I begin, may I be permitted to express my own personal appreciation to the artists who have performed here this morning for the pleasure of this great audience.

Of course, their performance does raise one question: if they can do this under a tent, why the Square?

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts symbolizes an increasing interest in America in cultural matters, as well as a stimulating approach to one of the Nation's pressing problems: urban blight.

Here in the heart of our greatest metropolitan center, men of vision are executing a redevelopment of purpose, utility, and taste. It is a cooperative venture in which Federal and local government, artistic groups, large foundations, and private citizens are joining forces. And the satisfaction that all of us feel in this splendid enterprise is enhanced by the fact that paralleling this development--in another part of the Lincoln Square project--is a great new educational undertaking: Fordham University, under the leadership of my old friend and colleague, Father McGinley, is proceeding here with the establishment of a new campus in the midst of this great city. All of us salute this magnificent effort.

At Lincoln Center, Americans will have new and expanded opportunities for acquiring a real community of interest through common contact with the performing arts.

American technology, labor, industry, and business are responsible for the twentieth century freedom of the individual--making free a greater portion of his time in which to improve the mind, the body, and the spirit. To them we are likewise indebted for the capacity to establish this Center. The lives of all of us will be enriched.

The beneficial influence of this great cultural adventure will not be limited to our borders. Here will occur a true interchange of the fruits of national cultures. From this will develop a growth that will spread to the comers of the earth, bringing with it the kind of human message that only individuals--not governments--can transmit. Here will develop a mighty influence for peace and understanding throughout the world. And the attainment through universal understanding of peace with justice is today, as always, the noblest and most shining ideal toward which man can strive and climb.

And so, as we break ground for the first of your great halls, the concert hall, the new home of New York's Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, I pay sincere tribute to your vision, your effort, your energy that is creating the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

And now I understand we proceed with the ceremony by turning over the first shovel of earth.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President's opening remarks referred to Robert Wagner, Mayor of New York City, Malcolm Wilson, Lieutenant Governor of New York, Robert Moses, Commissioner of Parks of New York City, and John D. Rockefeller 3d.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the Ground-Breaking Ceremonies for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York City. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234843

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