A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 16, 2016
Whoopee Row (West 133rd Street)

“Whoopee Row” was West 133rd Street in Harlem, between Lenox Avenue and Seventh Avenue. Many night clubs, speakeasies and fried chicken restaurants were located there. “‘Whoopee Row,’ 133rd street” was cited in the Pittsburgh (PA) Courier on June 6, 1931. It’s not known if there are other “Whoopee Row” cites, but the name is of historical interest.
West 133rd Street has also been called “Harlem’s Beale Street” and “Jungle Alley.”
Wikipedia: 133rd Street (Manhattan)
133rd Street is a street in Manhattan and the Bronx, New York City. In Harlem, Manhattan, it begins at Riverside Drive on its western side and crosses Broadway, Amsterdam Avenue, and ends at Convent Avenue, before resuming on the eastern side, crossing Seventh Avenue, and ending at Lenox Avenue. In Port Morris in the Bronx, it runs from Bruckner Boulevard/St. Ann’s Place to Locust Avenue. The block between Seventh Avenue and Lenox Avenues was once a thriving night spot, known as “Swing Street”, with numerous cabarets, jazz clubs, and speakeasies. The street is described in modern times as “a quiet stretch of brownstones and tenement-style apartment houses, the kind of block that typifies this section of central Harlem”.
The street has historical significance during the Prohibition era when there were many speakeasies operating on the street and it was known as “Swing Street”. The street also gained a reputation as “Jungle Alley” because of “inter-racial mingling” on the street.
During the Jazz Age there were at least 20 jazz clubs on the street, mainly concentrated between Lennox Avenue (Malcolm X Boulevard) and Seventh Avenue, and a young Billie Holiday performed here and was discovered here at the age of 17.
Nightclubs of note include Tillie’s Chicken Shack, known for torch singer Elmira, Bank’s Club, Harry Hansberry’s Clam House at 146 W. 133rd St., one of New York City’s most notorious LGBT speakeasies established in 1928, featuring Gladys Bentley in a tuxedo singing “her own risque lyrics to popular songs”, and Catagonia Club, better known as Pod’s and Jerry’s, which featured jazz pianist and composer Willie “The Lion” Smith.
6 June 1931, Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, “The Harlem Limited-Broadway Bound” by Floyd G. Snelson, pg. B7, col. 4:
Amos ‘n’ Andy, Buddy Rogers, Gloria Swanson, Tallulah Bankhead and Jack Mulhall, all in person, were among the celebrities who paid a visit to Harlem last week. THey enjoyed the night clubs and, best of all, the bizarre entertainment of Gladys Bently and Shrimp Brawner at the Clam House in “Whoopee Row,” 133rd street.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Friday, September 16, 2016 • Permalink

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