Art

Historic Harlem Tour

In cooperation with Ephemera Press, creators of the “Harlem Renaissance Walking Tour and Guide,” Jerry Jazz Musician presents a variety of key Harlem figures and institutions, their addresses, and sights and sounds from its historic and creative past.

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The pictorial map and walking tour guide of the Harlem Renaissance featured here is published by Ephemera Press, a Brooklyn based company “devoted to celebrating the history of popular culture, the fine arts, and trends in politics through the visual power of fine illustration.” The map provides an aesthetic journey to the homes and hangouts of the legendary artists, writers and musicians who made Harlem one of America’s most creative neighborhoods. It captures the serious side of artist Tony Millionaire, a usually irreverent cartoonist best known for his syndicated comic strip “Maakies.”

The driving force behind Ephemera Press is Marc H. Miller, an art historian and museum consultant. In 1991, Dr. Miller was the curator of Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy, a ground breaking exhibition which traveled to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, the New Orleans Museum of Art and other venues. One of the objects in the Armstrong exhibition was A Nightclub Map of Harlem created in 1931 by the African American illustrator E. Simms Campbell. Miller remembered that map when in 1998 he was approached by Flushing Town Hall to develop a program that would help publicize the little known fact that the New York City Borough of Queens was not only Satchmo’s home but also the home of hundreds of other jazz greats. Miller hired Millionaire and together they created The Queens Jazz Trail Map. The map generated dozens of feature news articles and it also inspired an award winning bus tour that is still run monthly by Flushing Town Hall (for tour information call 718- 463-7700).

Marc Miller

 

The popular success of the Queens Jazz Trail led Miller to found Ephemera Press in 2000. The Harlem Renaissance Map was Miller and Millionaire’s next project. It is now in its second printing. The illustrations and text below are taken from the map. For more information about Ephemera Press and their other “CultureMaps” visit their website.

 

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photo Sid Grossman

“And I think this is what I felt when we first moved into Harlem […] All these people on the street, various colors. So much pattern. So much movement. So much color. So much vitality. So much energy.”

 

– Jacob Lawrence, Harlem Renaissance painter

 

 

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Although it only encompasses about six square miles, the New York Cityneighborhood of Harlem has played a central role in the development of American culture. Originally rural farmland, then an affluent suburb, since 1911 Harlem has been predominantly an African American community. Its residents have had a disproportionately large impact on all aspects of American culture, leaving their mark on literature, art, comedy, dance, theater, music, sports, religion and politics.

The 1920’s would be a golden age — now celebrated as the Harlem Renaissance — and although the Depression took its toll, a new generation of African American artists and thinkers would also leave their mark in the decade of the 1930’s.

In cooperation with Ephemera Press, creators of the “Harlem Renaissance Walking Tour and Guide,” Jerry Jazz Musician presents a variety of key Harlem figures and institutions, their addresses, and sights and sounds from its historic and creative past.

 

 

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Art by Tony Millionaire

Text by Ephemera Press

Design by Jerry Jazz Musician

All text and images copyright Ephemera Press, Brooklyn, NY

 

 

The graphics are arranged by geographic proximity, and from South to North.

 

 

 

 

James Van Der Zee Photography Studio

272 Lenox Ave.

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Harlem’s top photographer from 1916 through the 1980’s, Van Der Zee won international fame at the “Harlem On My Mind” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1968).  This was his studio from 1940 to 1960.

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James Van Der Zee biography

 

 

Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Eckstine

2040 Seventh Ave.

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In 1944, bop pioneer Gillespie was the music director of singer Eckstine’s band.  Both had apartments in the building.

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“I don’t care much about music. What I like is sounds.”

-Dizzy Gillespie

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I Stay in the Mood for You , by Billy Eckstine, with Dizzy Gillespie

Minton’s Playhouse at Cecil Hotel

210 W. 118th St.

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Site of legendary jam sessions in the 1940’s featuring Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Dizzy Gillespie and other bop pioneers.

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“In those days we had several means of access to experience:  big bands were one, jam sessions were another…Jam sessions, such as those wonderfully exciting ones held at Minton’s Playhouse, were seedbeds for our new, modern style of music.”

-Dizzy Gillespie

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Dizzy Atmosphere , by Dizzy Gillespie

Studio of William H. Johnson

311 W. 120th St.

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Painter Johnson set up his studio in the top floor of this garage building after returning from Europe in 1929.

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“My aim is to express in a natural way, what I feel both rhythmically and spiritually, all that has been stored up in my family of primitive tradition.”

– William H. Johnson

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William H. Johnson’s Self-Portrait

The Apollo Theater

253 W. 125th St.

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Still active, the Apollo has been Harlem’s top entertainment spot since 1934.  Everyone from Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and James Brown performed here.  Ella Fitzgerald and the Jackson Five were winners of its legendary Amatuer Night.  The stump of the original Tree of Hope is preserved here.

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Aggravatin’ Papa , by Bessie Smith

Apartment of Romare Bearden

154 W. 131st St.

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In the 1930’s, artist Bearden lived with his mother in this brownstone while attending college at New York University.  He fondly recalled that the apartment was located directly opposite an alley leading to the Lafayette Theater’s backstage door.

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“…it is not my aim to paint about the Negro in America in terms of propaganda….[I] paint the life of my people as I know it as passionately and dispassionately as Brueghel painted the life of the Flemish people of his day….my intention…is to reveal through pictorial complexities the richness of a life I know.”

– Romare Bearden

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The Art of Romare Bearden on line exhibit

Connie’s Inn, Lafayette Theater and The Rhythm Club

2221, 2227  and 2235 Seventh Ave.

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A rival of the Cotton Club, in 1929 Connie’s Inn featured Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller and Andy Razaf’s musical Hot Chocolates.  

 The Lafayette was Harlem’s leading theater from 1911 to 1934.  Famous for dramas by The Lafayette Players (founded by Charles Gilpin), musicals like Darktown Follies (1913) and Shuffle Along (1921), and performances by major musicians, dancers and comedians.

In the 1920s the Rhythm Club was a favorite gathering spot for musicians. Late night jam sessions included Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, and Willie “The Lion” Smith.

Smith, Morton and Fats Waller are illustrated.

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Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Fats Waller

 I’ve Found a New Baby , by Sidney Bechet

Dead Man Blues , by Jelly Roll Morton

 

 

Small’s Paradise

2294 Seventh Ave.

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Ed Smalls’ basement club featured singing and dancing waiters, floorshows, and top musicians.  Active from 1925 through the 1960’s, it was one of Harlem’s longest running nightclubs.

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I Can’t Give You Anything But Love , by Jimmy Smith, recorded live at Small’s Paradise, 1957

 

Home of Langston Hughes

20 E. 127th St.

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A prolific writer, Hughes wrote The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1921) and Weary Blues (1927).  He lived here in a top floor apartment from 1947 until his death in 1967.

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“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”

– Langston Hughes

 

The Negro Speaks of Rivers, read by Langston Hughes

 

James Weldon Johnson

187 W. 135th St.

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The multitalented Johnson was a lyricist (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”), writer (Black Manhattan), and civil rights leader (executive secretary of the NAACP).  He lived in this building from 1925 until his death in 1938.

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“I will not allow one prejudiced person or one million or one hundred million to blight my life. I will not let prejudice or any of its attendant humiliations and injustices bear me down to spiritual defeat. My inner life is mine, and I shall defend and maintain its integrity against all the powers of hell.”

– James Weldon Johnson

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James Weldon Johnson biography

Augusta Savage’s Studio of Arts and Crafts

239 W. 135th St.

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Best known for her sculpture “The Harp” at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Savage was also Harlem’s leading art teacher. Her students included Marvin and Morgan Smith and Norman Lewis.  Savage’s school was located here in 1935.

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Augusta Savage biography

Madam C.J. Walker and the Walker School of Hair

108 – 110 W. 136th St.

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The site of the building that businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker built in 1916 as her home and headquarters of the Walker School of Hair.  In 1928, Walker’s daughter A’Lelia converted part of the townhouse into The Dark Tower, a legendary salon and nightclub.

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“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground”

– Madam C.J. Walker

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Madam C.J. Walker biographer A’Lelia Bundles interview

“Niggerati Manor” and the Magazine Fire!!

267 W. 136th St.

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Site of the artist rooming house which Zora Neale Hurston memorably dubbed “Niggerati Manor.”  In 1926, Hurston, Wallace, Thurman, Aaron Douglas, Langston Hughes, and Bruce Nugent collaborated here on Fire!!

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Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.

– Zora Neale Hurston

 

 

Hurston historian Carla Kaplan is interviewed

Striver’s Row

138th and 139th Sts. between Seventh and Eighth Aves.

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This prime block of townhouses has been home for music publisher W.C. Handy, orchestra leader Fletcher Henderson, architect Vetner Tandy, Black Swan Records founder Henry Pace, and composer Will Marion Cook.  Composer Eubie Blake lived across the street.

Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake are illustrated.

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Love Will Find a Way , by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake

Apartment of Alberta Hunter

133 W. 138th St.

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A popular singer and recording artist in the 1920’s, Hunter enjoyed renewed attention in the 1970’s.

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Down Hearted Blues , by Alberta Hunter

Apartment of Billie Holiday

108 W. 139th St.

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In 1932, 16 year-old Billie Holiday moved here with her mother Sadie.  She soon got her first singing job at a club in nearby Jungle Alley on 133rd Street.

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“You’ve got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any damn body’s sermon on how to behave.”

-Billie Holiday

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I Cried For you

Apartment of James P. Johnson

267 W. 140th St.

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Stride pianist James P. Johnson is remembered as the composer of the original “Charleston” and the teacher of young “Fats” Waller.

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“James P. is the focal point.  The rags, cotillions, mazurkas and all those other unkown phenomena came together in him and he made jazz out of them.”

– Dick Wellstood

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Harlem Strut , by James P. Johnson

The Savoy Ballroom

596 Lenox Ave. (at 140th St.)

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From 1926 to 1958, the Savoy was one of Harlem’s top clubs famous for its Battles of the Band, which featured headliners like Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Orchestra, and dancers doing the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug.

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Sing Me a Swing Song , Chick Webb Orchestra with Ella Fitzgerald

Photos from the Savoy

 

Cotton Club

644 Lenox Ave. (at 142nd St.)

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Site of the original Cotton Club, which opened in 1927 with elaborate stage shows featuring Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and others.  In 1936 the Cotton Club moved to Broadway in midtown.

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A Night at the Cotton Club , by Duke Ellington

The Cotton Club history

Apartment of Billy Strayhorn

315 Convent Ave.

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Strayhorn, a composer, arranger, and longtime collaborator with Duke Ellington, lived here with pianist Aaron Bridges in 1940.

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“I have a general rule.  Rimsky-Korsakov is the one who said it:  All parts should lie easily under the fingers. That’s my first rule, to write something a guy can play.  Otherwise, it will never be as natural, or as wonderful, as something that does lie easily under the fingers.”

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Chelsea Bridge , by Billy Strayhorn

Apartment of Ralph Ellison

749 St. Nicholas Ave.

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Ellison lived here when he wrote The Invisible Man (1952).

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“America is woven of many strands. I would recognize them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many. This is not prophecy, but description.”

– Ralph Ellison

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The Ralph Ellison Project

Apartment of W.E.B. Dubois, Thurgood Marshall

409 Edgecombe Ave.

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Harlem’s most prestigious building the 1930’s and 40’s.  Residents included NAACP cofounder DuBois, NAACP leaders Walter White and Roy Wilkins, and future Supreme Court Justice Marshall (illustrated).

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“Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.”

– Thurgood Marshall

“We cannot base the education of future citizens on the present inexcusable inequality of wealth nor on physical differences of race. We must seek not to make men carpenters but to make carpenters men.”

– W.E.B. DuBois

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Thurgood Marshall biography

W.E.B. DuBois biography

Apartments of Paul Robeson, Count Basie

555 Edgecombe Ave.

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One of the many Harlem buildings associated with the singer, actor, and political activist Robeson.

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“As an artist I come to sing, but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace, and no one can silence me in this.”

– Paul Robeson

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Ol’ Man River

Apartment of Duke Ellington

935 St. Nicholas Ave.

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Jazz music’s leading composer and bandleader, Ellington lived here from 1939 to 1961.

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“There is hardly any money interest in art, and music will be there when money is gone. “

– Duke Ellington

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Harlem Air Shaft , by Duke Ellington

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art by Tony Millionaire

Text by Ephemera Press

Design by Jerry Jazz Musician

Harlem Renaissance: Map Poster Guide, at Amazon.com

 

All text and images copyright Ephemera Press, Brooklyn, NY