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How the Mirandas arrived in the city of Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda, left, with father Luis A. Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda, left, with father Luis A. Miranda Jr. Credit: John James photo courtesy of Luis Miranda

Anyone following New York City's civic life in the past 30 years would have run across Luis A. Miranda Jr. either in print or in person.

He was an aide to Mayor Edward I. Koch, chairman of the city Health and Hospitals Corp. and founder of the Hispanic Federation, a social service network. Now he is a partner in the MirRam Group political consulting firm.

Suddenly Miranda, 61, draws notice in glitzier New York circles as the father of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of "Hamilton," the hip-hop Broadway show inspired by Ron Chernow's bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Luis Miranda, who arrived in New York at 18 from Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, said: To an immigrant, for your kid to do better than you, is such an unbelievable accomplishment. What more could you ask for?

Hamilton, alone among the leading founders of the republic, was born outside what would become the United States. (He too arrived in New York at 18.) Luis Miranda recalls that his son, now 35, instantly realized after picking up the Chernow book how well Hamilton's story would fit his chosen art form. Hamilton "got out of poverty on the strength of his writing and intellect," the father said. "And to be more of a hip-hop story, he gets killed in a duel."

The elder Miranda said producer Jeffrey Seller told him at a workshop that the play could only have come from "someone who grew up around politics, who understands that what you read about in the papers is the result of closed-door negotiations." (One of the musical's big numbers:"The Room Where It Happens.)

Luis Miranda's wife and Lin-Manuel's mother, Luz Towns-Miranda, is a clinical psychologist.

His partners at MirRam include ex-deputy city comptroller Eduardo Castell, former City Council staffer Catherine Torres and ex-Bronx Assemb. Roberto Ramirez.

Today Hamilton gets credit for trying to end slavery. But there is political irony to his celebrity. For generations, rival Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic Party icon while Hamilton, in the late 1800s, earned Republican adulation as a champion of commerce.

Historian Gordon S. Wood speculated years ago that Hamilton "would be right at home in the present-day United States" with its vast federal bureaucracy, enormous CIA, huge public debt, taxes and big military.

Political legacies aside, the Mirandas are New Yorkers, steeped in an old New York story.

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