Lin-Manuel Miranda during the "In the Heights" Broadway opening night curtain call at the Richard Rodger Theatre on March 9, 2008, in New York City


When In The Heights premiered on Broadway in 2009, composer, performer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s loving ode to his Latino community in upper Manhattan was a game-changer. Its skillful blend of traditional Broadway themes and joyful, energetic rap, salsa and hip-hop marked the arrival of a new creative force. Here’s a look back at the influences — both cultural and familial — that influenced his breakthrough hit.

His family hails from Puerto Rico

Luis Miranda Jr. was born in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico and moved to New York at the age of 18. Although his English was limited at the time, he became the youngest person ever accepted into New York University’s clinical psychology graduate program. It was there that he met Luz Towns, a fellow student from the program who also hailed from Puerto Rico. Shortly after meeting, Luis and Luz married, and Luis adopted her daughter, Luz. In 1980, their son Lin-Manuel was born, and the following year the family moved to Inwood, a neighborhood at the northern tip of Manhattan, which had long been the starting point in New York for a series of different immigrant groups.





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