Despite never seeing it performed, I have a love for Hamilton: An American Musical that can only be described as obsessive. Fanatical. Compulsive. Enthusiastic. Rabid. All-consuming.
Ok, there are more than a few words for it. There are jokes among friends and co-workers that it’s all I talk about and the three magic words in my world *might* be Lin-Manuel Miranda (Seriously, a co-worker said them yesterday to talk about Moana and my ears perked up.). This extends to the mix tape that just came out yesterday (I’m slightly obsessed with “An Open Letter,” “Congratulations,” “Wait for It,” and “Burn”. I was already in love with early releases “Satisfied” and “It’s Quiet Uptown.” )
I can’t explain any of it, either. I’m not really an American history buff and while I can obsessively research dozens of musical genres, I am woefully uninformed on hip-hip, beyond the standard surface history that I’ve picked up from a lifetime of rock docs. I liked In the Heights, but I didn’t LOVE it. But still, it makes my heart beat a little bit fuller.
So yes, I entered the lottery for all four performances while I was in New York. Each day the time leading up to the close of the lottery was nerve-wracking. “I know it won’t happen, but what if it does?” Sitting in a matinee of Waitress, which is brilliant, didn’t even calm my fears. As the close of the show and lottery approached the announcement that it was against New York state law to use cell phones during Broadway performances was echoing in my ears. “What if I won?! What if the show runs long and I miss the one hour window to buy $10 my ticket?!”
I had nothing to worry about. Each time I got the, “Sorry, better luck next time” email and my heart broke a little bit more.
I had done the research and knew that I had much better chance via the cancellation line, which was confirmed by guy claiming to do lights for the show that I met in a coffee shop. (Is claiming to work on Hamilton to pick up girls a thing in New York now? Or was this guy maybe legit?) After much consideration I decided that the thought of being faced with having to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket, likely more than I spent on my hostel and flight combined was beyond me. To say nothing of giving up time much of my limited time to just sit in a line.
I had a back-up plan, though.
My own personal Hamilton walking tour/scavenger hunt, listening to the corresponding song at each location.
75 Broadway, New York, NY 10006
I was worried about tourists here, but I went about 9 am on a Thursday morning and there was no one there.
Alexander, Eliza, and Philip are buried together here. They are in the yard to the left of the main gate, near the road on the far left. While Angelica is here, she is in the Robert Livingston vault and doesn’t have her name on a marker.
- “The Room Where It Happened”
“No one really knows how the game is played/The art of the trade/How the sausage gets made/We just assume that it happens/But no one else is in/The room where it happens”
Site of the former home of Thomas Jefferson and site of the Compromise of 1790
57 Maiden Lane
“I wrote my way out of hell/I wrote my way to revolution/I was louder than the crack in the bell/I wrote Eliza love letters until she fell/I wrote about The Constitution and defended it well/And in the face of ignorance and resistance/I wrote financial systems into existence/And when my prayers to God were met with indifference/I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance”
New York Public Library
5th Ave at 42nd St, New York, NY 10018
In all seriousness I could have broken this out it to multiple songs. They have copies of Washington’s farewell address, The Reynolds Pamphlet, accounts of the duels that killed him and Philip, A Farmer Refuted, accounts of the argument with Jefferson over supporting the French against England, and the Federalist Papers.
- “One Last Time”
“One last time/the people will hear from meone last time/and if we get this right/we’re gonna teach ‘em how to say goodbye/You and I—”
Site of George Washington’s Inauguration (yes, I’m cheating and using a song for his farewell address)
26 Wall St, New York, NY 10005
- “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?”
Oh, can I show you what I’m proudest of?/I established the first private orphanage in New York City/I help to raise hundreds of children/I get to see them growing up
New York Orphan Asylum Society original location
Barrow Street, formerly Raisin Street, between Bleecker and West 4th Streets.
I don’t have a photo for this one because there isn’t really anything there to see, but this is one of my favorite parts of any of the songs in the show, highlighting the great things that Eliza did after Alexander died.