Since The Town Hall (also affectionately known to New Yorkers as Town Hall or, simply, the Hall) opened its doors on January 12, 1921, it has not only become a meeting place for educational programs, gatherings of activists, and host for controversial speakers (such as the American advocate of birth control Margaret Sanger, who was arrested and carried off The Town Hall stage on November 13, 1921, for attempting to speak to a mixed-sex audience about contraception), but as one of New York City's premiere performance spaces for music, dance, and other performing arts. While the lecture series and courses on political and non-political subjects sponsored by the League continued to be held there, The Town Hall quickly established a reputation as an arts center during the first fifteen years of its existence.
The Town Hall has also had a long association with the promotion of poetry in the United States, which predates Edna St. Vincent Millay's public poetry reading debut at the Hall in 1928. The Hall has retained a close association with poets and poetry that continues to this day.
Recordings of America's Town Meeting of the Air, from 1935 to 1952, are preserved at the United States' National Archives' Donated Historical Materials collection, the catalog number of which is "DM.13".
The organizational records (archives) of Town Hall, Inc. and America's Town Meeting of the Air, 1895-1955, are held by the Manuscripts and Archives Division of The New York Public Library.
In 1928, The Hall began producing regular musical concert series, and over the next few seasons, The Town Hall Endowment Series featured artists including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ignace Paderwaski, Lily Pons, Fedor Chaliapin, Yehudi Menuhin, and many more legends of the classical Western repertoire.
Marian Anderson, considered one of the greatest contraltos ever born in the United States, made her New York debut at the Hall on December 30, 1935, after she had been denied an opportunity at an operatic career elsewhere due to discrimination against African-Americans.
Important jazz concert appearances at The Town Hall include the June 22, 1945 concert — featuring Dizzy Gillespie, on trumpet; Charlie Parker, on alto saxophone; Don Byas, on tenor saxophone; Al Haig, on piano; Curley Russell, on bass, and Max Roach, on drums (with “Big” Sid Catlett substituting for Roach on a few titles) — which provided the public with its first mainstream exposure to the quickly evolving style of jazz that came to be popularly known as bebop. This concert serves as an unmistakable sign of how progressive The Town Hall’s jazz programming has been since the venue's inception; prior to appearing in concert at the Hall, Gillespie and Parker had released only one 78-RPM release, and only Gillespie — due to his high-profile associations with Cab Calloway, Earl Hines, and Billy Eckstine — enjoyed mainstream name-recognition. (Note: In June 2005, the Uptown Jazz label released a CD containing seven sonically restored performances transcribed from acetates made at the concert, which was originally supposed to be a double-bill, with Coleman Hawkins as the headliner, but Hawkins never showed up for his half of the gig.) The Town Hall also hosted the 1946 concert that led to the re-invigoration of Louis Armstrong's career, and which led to the formation of Louis Armstrong and His All Stars, the small traditional jazz combo that Armstrong led for the last quarter-century of his life.
The Hall's rich tradition of jazz programming is continued today with the Not Just Jazz series of concerts, which not only features jazz, but also poetry, film and dance. Past participants in the Not Just Jazz series include: The Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Lounge Lizards, Cassandra Wilson, Meredith Monk, and Allen Ginsberg.
One unique aspect of The Hall is its Morning Performances, which are offered free of charge to public school students in grades 3 to 8, during the day. It also features programming in alliance with Theatreworks USA as part of its Arts in Education program.