‘In the Heights’ Murals Get a New Home at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center
The vibrant artwork, created by a Washington Heights artist, was gifted to the hospital by Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family, and Warner Bros. Entertainment to bring joy to patients, families, and health care workers in the community.
On one of the walls of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Riverview Terrace — an area where patients, families, visitors, and health care workers walk through every day — hangs a brightly colored painting featuring Washington Heights locals smiling. One man enjoys a cafecito from a moka pot, another dances with a güira, a percussion instrument from the Dominican Republic. In the backdrop are familiar landmarks: the Little Red Lighthouse and the George Washington Bridge.
Across the way, in front of the Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family Heart Center, hangs another colorful mural, of a man and woman surrounded by blossoming flowers. The murals both proudly display the words, “In the Heights,” for the film based on the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the award-winning composer, lyricist, and actor. “In the Heights” is both a love story and a love letter to Washington Heights, the neighborhood that NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center proudly serves.
As an act of appreciation for health care workers and in celebration of the community, the murals were gifted to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center by Miranda, his family, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. The murals, which had been displayed on 168th Street and Broadway in Washington Heights since 2021, were painted by Danny Peguero, a local visual artist, and designer. On November 15, the murals were revealed in their new, permanent location as a surprise for the hospital community.
“We thank the Miranda family and Danny for this wonderful gift,” says Dr. Laureen Hill, group senior vice president, and chief operating officer of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “These murals symbolize not only appreciation for our frontline health care workers, but the vibrancy and rich culture of Washington Heights.”
Dr. Hill and Miranda, along with his family, Peguero, and NewYork-Presbyterian staffers, counted down before red curtains fell simultaneously revealing both murals.
“The arts are so important in our public sphere,” says Miranda. “I’m excited that some of the artwork of ‘In The Heights’ [that was created for the movie] is here at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, the hospital that serves our community. And I’m moved that Danny Peguero’s murals get to be here. It’s wonderful to bring some life and music to the hospital.”
For Peguero, the inspiration for the murals came from a natural place: the community and the energy he feels every day on the streets. “There’s a vibrancy in the neighborhood that everyone knows,” he says. “The vibrancy of the colors, the people from different ethnicities, the music, the dancing. I hope these murals can bring a smile and some joy.”
Dr. Hill notes the power that the artwork will have in its new home. “What I hope by putting these murals in this location, where we have so many patients come through, is that it provides a sense of joy and hope to those who seek care here and to those who provide the comfort and healing,” she says.