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Today, Harlem continues to be an epicenter of Black culture in the United States rivaled only by perhaps Compton, a district of Los Angeles on the opposite coast.
Billie Holiday, Tupac, Big L, Cam’ron, Kurtis Blow, Immortal Technique, A$AP Rocky, Mase, P. The Cotton Club might be Harlem’s most famous surviving jazz venue, but during the Harlem Renaissance that started after World War I and ended sometime during the Great Depression, it was also the neighborhood’s most notorious.
Peter Galassi, the chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), said of photographer Roy DeCarava, whose themes focused on issues like poverty, inequality and racial prejudice.
Roy documented everyday life in Harlem from the inside but not as a sociological or political vehicle. One of the things that got to me, was that I felt that black people were not being portrayed in a serious and in an artistic way. It was a very popular dance venue and many dances, including the Lindy Hop, became famous there, making it the "Home of Happy Feet".
The building was sold in 1934 and renamed the 125th Street Apollo, after an Apollo Theater that had been established in Harlem in the late nineteenth century.


Last season, the music of Elmo Hope, James Black, and Eric Dolphy was explored by the city's finest musicians. It may be argued with equal force that one of the most important shrines in the history of jazz was Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem.
Founded in 1938 by the saxophonist Henry Minton (from whom the establishment took its name) Minton’s Playhouse became, over the next decade, the setting for a revolution in jazz. Although the Harlem of today is just as far removed from its historical counterpart history as downtown Manhattan it is clear to see the neighborhood has proved the world with an incredible amount of culture.
No photographer black or white before him had really shown ordinary domestic life so perceptively and tenderly, so persuasively. Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s through to the late 1940s.
Many black entertainers including Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, amongst others, performed there, for the generally white audience. It was also viewed as the Uptown alternate to the Roseland Ballroom on 52nd Street and considered a great alternative to the Broadway dance revues.


They later became sanctuary for criminals as prohibition meant an illegal black market of bootlegged alcohol.
It was considered a swanky place to be on Sundays for "Celebrity Night" in which such white luminaries as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Mae West and Jimmy Durante, made appearances. There were amateur nights at The Apollo, where a seventeen-year-old Ella Fitzgerald made her debut on November 21, 1934.
The club at this location was originally opened in 1920 with the name Club De Luxe; it was renamed The Cotton Club in 1923. The Apollo is regarded as having launched her career, as well as that of Billie Holiday and, much later, those of James Brown, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin, as well as numerous others. The venue fell into disrepair during the 1960s and 190s, was converted into a movie theater in 1975, was reborn as a live theater in 1983 and is still a thriving music venue today.



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