When you enter the new exhibit at The New York Library for the Performing Arts, "Sinatra: An American Icon" there is a quote from Bing Crosby. To paraphrase: "He says that a performer like Sinatra comes along once in a lifetime--but why did it have to be my lifetime?" In a time of giants, Sinatra still towered. He changed the American music scene, won two Oscars and remains a legend.
The exhibit chronicles Sinatra's career, but firmly plants him in New York (or at least across the Hudson river.) Featuring a Hoboken cable car, the tribute starts with Sinatra's parents and winds it way through his early pop career, to his radio programs, songwriting/arranging partnerships to his movies. The library houses some of Sinatra's classic recordings, which are available throughout the showcase.
Walking through the exhibit, I thought mostly of my parents and the records that made up their collection. The album covers were as familiar as any artwork we had on the walls. I'm sure my mom was a fan--not a bobby soxer but devoted. I remember when she dragged my brother to Chicagofest to see Sinatra perform at Navy Pier. Certainly, the generations and varied nationalities of people crowding the exhibit were also recalling their own interactions with Ol' Blue Eyes.
The exhibit is supported by Sinatra's family so personal artwork, awards, clothing and trinkets are all on display. The exhibit coincides with what would have been Sinatra's 100th birthday. There are also walking tours of Manhattan and Hoboken that trace Sinatra's footsteps. The exhibit ends with nine TV screens broadcasting the Chairman himself--performing and having a great time.