May
13

A Brief History of Washington Heights

New York City has long been a mecca for seekers from other places. It was first established as the colony of New Netherland in 1624 by Dutch settlers, who made a so-called “purchase” of the land from the local Aboriginal peoples in 1626. The transaction set off violence and displacement on the island of Manhattan, which was named after a local tribe and home to New Netherland’s capital, New Amsterdam. The English followed the Dutch and, in 1664, Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam to the English, who renamed the settlement New York.

One of the displaced tribes in the island’s early history were the Munsee, who lived in the northwest corner of the island in an area they had named Shokorapok. The area in and around that Munsee settlement is now home to one of Manhattan’s most diverse neighbourhoods: Washington Heights. The Heights stretches from 155th street north to Inwood, and is bordered by the Hudson River to the west and the Harlem River to the east. The neighbourhood is also home to the highest point on the island, in what is now Bennet Park. During the Revolutionary War, both the British and Continental armies used it as a strategic point.

IMG_1866

The George Washington Bridge, connecting Washington Heights to Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Settlement of the area began to take off in the early 20th century, as Irish immigrants settled the area. The Irish were followed by Hungarians, Poles and then Jews, many from Germany, earning the neighbourhood the nickname “Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson.” Greeks followed, then, in the 1970s, immigrants from the Soviet Union. By the late 20th century, Caribbeans dominated the Heights, particularly those from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, who were also joined by African Americans.

The neighbourhood now has a distinctly Latin flavor. The barrio is home to many Latin-owned businesses, including the ubiquitous bodega, a particular kind of family-run convenience store, often stocking products from the Caribbean, that becomes a de-facto community centre for residents of the neighbourhood.

IMG_1838

A local bodega, similar to Usnavi’s shop in In the Heights.

The Heights remains one of the most popular neighbourhoods for immigrants, with the ninth-highest concentration of immigrants in New York, and the only neighbourhood in Manhattan in the top ten. That may change, however, as the neighbourhood is rapidly gentrifying, raising rents, and pushing longtime residents out of the neighbourhood. Between 2013 and 2014, Washington Heights was second only to Bushwick (Brooklyn) for property price increase in all of New York City, with the median home price jumping a whopping 28.8%.

IMG_1835

A local salon in Washington Heights.

In the Heights is now playing until June 7 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Tickets start at just $29 and are available online or by calling 604.687.1644.

Posted in 2014-2015 Season, General, In the Heights Tagged , , |
leave-a-comment
May
7

Glamourama del barrio

While Usnavi (Luc Roderique) and Vanessa (Elena Juatco) spend much of In the Heights longing to be somewhere else, last night’s capacity crowd was clearly content to be right where they were. The company, along with friends, family, and special guests stayed at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage long after the curtain came down on Opening Night, soaking up the carnival atmosphere. Dreams far beyond those of the barrio were realized on stage and it was great to bask in the glow of this talented and inspiring cast.

Enjoy some photos of this close-knit community below and view the full album on Facebook. All photos by Mark Halliday.

Not quite the A Train, but the Vancouver Trolley Company brought guests to the show in style

Not quite the A Train, but the Vancouver Trolley Company brought guests to the show in style

In the Heights creative team, Bill Millerd, Lisa Stevens, and Ken Cormier

In the Heights creative team, Bill Millerd, Lisa Stevens, and Ken Cormier

The indispensable crew!

The indispensable crew!

Luc Roderique (Usnavi) and Elena Juatco (Vanessa)

Luc Roderique (Usnavi) and Elena Juatco (Vanessa)

Sharon Crandall (Abuela Claudia) and Caleb Di Pomponio (Sonny)

Sharon Crandall (Abuela Claudia) and Caleb Di Pomponio (Sonny)

The full company of In the Heights

The company of In the Heights

Late night at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Late night at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

In the Heights is now playing until June 7 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Tickets start at just $29 and are available online or by calling 604.687.1644.

 

Posted in 2014-2015 Season, Glamourama, In the Heights, Opening Nights Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
leave-a-comment
May
6

In the Heights opens tonight!

It is with Paciencia y fe that we have awaited the opening of this exhilarating musical. It Won’t Be Long Now before the Champagne is flowing and there is a Carnaval del Barrio in the lobby of the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. When the Sun Goes Down this stellar cast will tear up the stage and then party until Sunrise, celebrating the new community they’ve found In the Heights.

Watch the trailer below as well as interviews with Luc Roderique and Elena Juatco (Usnavi and Vanessa) and Sharon Crandall and Caleb Di Pomponio (Abuela Claudia and Sonny).

Happy opening to the company of In the Heights and best wishes for a successful run!

In the Heights is now playing until June 7 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Tickets start at just $29 and are available online or by calling 604.687.1644.

Posted in 2014-2015 Season, General, In the Heights Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
leave-a-comment