N, Q, R, W at 57th St.; 1, A, B, C, D at 59th St.-Columbus Circle
Whereas Carnegie Hall’s two other auditoriums, Stern and Weill, both feature cream-colored plaster, mohair fabric, and warm woods detailed in bronze, subterranean Zankel feels like a sacred underworld swathed in sea glass and forest green. Home to Carnegie Hall’s first performance, a piano recital in 1891, Zankel was also the last to officially rejoin the complex. The space was renamed Carnegie Lyceum in 1895, became an off-Broadway stage in 1956, morphed into an art-film house in 1960, and was leased by Cineplex Odeon until 1997. Only then did Carnegie Hall jump in to reclaim it. After 6,300 cubic yards of bedrock were excavated, the expanded, $72-million Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall opened in 2003. And even now, the auditorium continues to change: It can, for instance, be configured with a flat floor, an end stage, or a central performance area since the main floor rests on jacks and the seats are attached to chair wagons. No matter the arrangement, concertgoers on both the parterre and mezzanine have clear views of the stage and the acoustics are, of course, marvelous.