Saturday, September 29, 2007

History in the making - 9/29

The baby walrus at New York Aquarium makes his debut!
[New York Aquarium]

I can't believe I'm getting so choked up about the closing of a midtown porn house.
[Vanishing New York]

But the Domino Sugar Factory gets a reprieve -- landmark status.
[Lost City]

Robert Moses nemesis Jane Jacobs, saviour of the New York 'neighborhood', gets a retrospective at the Municipal Art Society in midtown.

The New York Times tackles some questions about the history of the Plaza Hotel.
[Part One]
[Part Two]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER: Bond International Casino

To get you in the mood for the weekend, every Friday we'll be celebrating 'FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER', featuring an old New York nightlife haunt, from the dance halls of 19th Century Bowery, to the massive warehouse spaces of the mid-90s. Past entries can be found here .

Bond International Casino -- save for fifteen days back in 1981 -- should not really be considered a "legendary" New York nightclub, by any means. But the space it occupies has a fascinating lineage, and as for those fifteen days, well...can any other nightclub in New York claim to have started what is called the 'Times Square Riot of 1981'?

The room was christened in the 1930s as the International Casino (the Bond would come in a bit), not a casino at all, but a swanky dinner club and cabaret that could cater up to 1,500 socialites, sipping on champagne while watching exotic shows featuring "novelties from five continents and the beauties of ten countries" on a motorized stage. Ads in 1936 proclaimed: `a Hollywood dream in theatre restaurants.' Elaborate musical revue at 7.30 and 11.30 P.M. Minimum charge $2.50 — Saturdays $3.50."

Such luxuriance was not to last, but the dazzle remained, from a most unlikely vector -- men's clothing. Bond Clothes took over the location as a men's clothing emporium, and chose a flashy facade to match the rooms of garments inside. A huge neon sign held a clock in the O of BOND, alongside a 50-foot man and woman, an electronic waterfall and a news roll zipped along the front -- all drenched in electric lights! It all looked especially dazzling at night, as the New York's Eve ball drop pictures proves below:

The elaborate sign gave way to a sponsor with bigger trouser pockets -- Pepsi -- placing gigantic soda bottles where the people once stood. Later the space was given over to a garish yet strangely hypnotic advertisement by Wrigley's Gum:

The clothing store itself lasted until 1977. Sitting vacant for a couple years -- at the true nadir of Times Square, the grit and garishness of 42nd street spilling over -- it was finally reopened under a new name, incorporating both its prior incarnations. The 'International Casino' returned, the 'Bond' sign stayed, and Times Square had its own rock club.

This new incarnation Bond International Casino had interiors, at 9,000 square feet, as theatrical as those in the past. The staircase from the entry level to the dance floor glowed as you stepped on them and played musical notes, not unlike, I suppose, the gigantic piano in the movie Big. The dancefloor, one of the city's biggest (much bigger than even Studio 54), was overseen by sumptuous on-stage water fountains and inflatable people who hovered above and would fill and deflate to the music.

Cream Magazine called it "a shopping mall with bars and a dance floor... and telephone in the men's room." Here's one of their flyers:

In this ad, you can get a sense of what the dance floor must have been like inside:

Over the course of its brief foray as a rock venue, Bond would see the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, the Plasmatics, the Dead Kennedys and Blondie. Always a slave to disco on regular nights, however, it would eventually give way to full-time usage as an early '80s dance floor. But not before it saw The Clash.

The hot punk group, who had just released one of rock music's most important records (London Calling) in January 1980, were back in New York to do a series of shows at Bond in May of 1981. Originally they were supposed to play eight nights. The promoters however dangerously oversold the show -- 3,500 tickets each night for a venue that could only hold about half that! 

Angry ticket holders rioted outside, filling the streets of Times Square, stopping traffic and drawing dozens of police officers to quell the rage. One website (with lots more information and more history on Bond and 'the Clash riot') claims Times Square "hadn't seen that much commotion since ... V-J Day." The story made international news the next day.

Cream says, "There's confusion over the numbers game, and inside it's a sardine sauna. Fire marshalls count 3600 heads leaving the club in what has been a testy evening. Support acts suffered, being booed and hissed by the diehard fans impatient for the arrival of their heroes."

To assuage the angry ticket holders, The Clash took the unprecedented step of extending their stay at Bond to seventeen shows over fifteen days, to cater to all those ticket holders who were not able to get in. Perhaps stress and the threat of violence and fire brought out the best in the group; the performances are supposedly their best ever, and a bootleg of one of the shows "Live at Bond's Casino" is considered the finest 'unofficial' release in the band's history. (All seventeen performances are available as bootlegs.)

For those polite enough and lucky (or unlucky? I can't imagine how unpleasant and scary that club must have been) to have paid attention to the first show, they would have also caught opening act Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the godfathers of rap music. Somebody actually booed them?

Ironically, Bond couldn't fill the club on any of their other nights, being a discotheque trying to survive in the Reagan 'disco is dead' era. In the '90s, the space was taken over by the Roundabout Theatre Company, who for several years brought some excellent shows into the space. 

It had two stages of different sizes, one classified a Broadway stage, the other off-Broadway. I saw a lot of great shows here back in the day, including Martin Short in 'Little Me' and an excellent revival of '1776', starring Star Trek: Next Generation star Brent Spiner as John Adams. After several years, the Roundabout moved their stages to another former disco -- Studio 54 -- and another location on 42nd Street, the American Airlines Theatre.

Bond has a happy ending however. The space has reopened as Bond 45 restaurant and lounge, recreating the classic sign with some adjustments, and pomping up the front to resemble its '30s glamour days. Of course, it sits between a Starbucks and a Swatch store, but you can run to the Virgin Megastore literally across the street and pick up some Clash CDs and memorabilia and start your own riot today. (45th Street, between 6th and 7th avenues)

Big, big buildings and little, little kids

(Above: a boy delivers some very heavy looking hats through the city, circa 1910)

Most photographers document history, but few actually change it. Lewis W. Hine entered the brand new field of photojournalism during the first decade of the new century but quickly found a use for it in social reform, particularly in documenting (and cracking down) the practice of child labor.

Originally from Wisconsin, Hine went to New York University and later got a teaching post here in the city. He took photos with his class on field trips to places such as Ellis Island and soon realized it was his calling.

It was a wide-open field to enter in 1906. George Eastman had literally just invented film in the 1880s. You cant underestimate the impact that photography by and of the masses had on its perceptions; suddenly, imperfections and injustices could be seen, not just read about. And you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words.

Hines would become known as a photographer of the working man, setting up complicated and often dangerous shots of workers at Pittsburgh steel mills to illustrate their plight. His photographs for the Red Cross and of the Great Depression in the South are well known.

But he started his career working with the newly formed National Child Labor Committee, which today still works to represent the underage in work abuse situations. The NCLC each year grants the Lewis Hine Award to individuals who work to improve the lives of children in America.

Hines took these pictures of young children laborers in New York City, taken from between 1908 and 1912. The History Place has an extraordinary trove of Hine photographs of children labor abuses from around the country. You'll be able to quickly tell why his work made such an immediate impact:

Getting sized up for working papers:

Mom and kids at a Lower East Side garment shop:

A young bootblack, making his living on the Bowery:

Incidentally, Hine's most famous photographs weren't of children but of something far, far loftier -- the construction of the Empire State Building. How he actually got some of these photographs is beyond me. Keep in mind, he wasn't exactly working with a point-and-shoot here....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PODCAST: The Statue of Liberty

Her torch may shine bright, but what story is she hiding under that copper-toned skin? The Bowery Boys bring you the story of the dinner party that created an American icon.

Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting services. Or you can download or listen to it HERE

Her official name is the Statue of Liberty Enlightening The World. You can find a full survey of her measures here. Two facts of interest to me: her copper plating is only the width of a couple pennies. Incredible that something so relatively thin has been able to weather 121 years.
Especially considering fact no. 2: during 50 mph winds, the Statue of Liberty moves approximately three inches. Bartholdi and Eiffel managed to create a structure that could conform to sea winds and temperature changes without causing serious damage to the overall structure.

Seen here, one hand, clutching a book with the date July 4, 1776 written upon it, awaits its copper skin at the foundry of Gaget, Gauthier et Companie.

Her other hand meanwhile was busy taking a tour of America. The completed right arm and torch stopped first at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, the 100th year of America's birth (and technically the date the gift of Liberty was celebrating). It then travelled back to New York, where it became a comfortable fixture of Madison Square Park in 1884.

My blog entry from Monday was about the gravesite of Gen. William Worth, which seems peculiarly placed in middle of a traffic island. To get a better sense of how it was situated, here's a picture (which I got from Forgotten NY) with Worth on the left, Fifth Avenue cutting through, and the arm of Ms. Liberty to the right.

And to think today, just a few feet to the right, out of frame, now stands the Shake Shack.

Eventually the arm and torch was returned to France, where the entire structure was put back together in the foundry, to the delight of 300,000 visitors, including one Victor Hugo, who said, "To the sculptor form is everything and is nothing. It is nothing without the spirit - with the idea it is everything."

The designer of the pedestal was Richard Morris Hunt, best known for designing the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as the sumptuous mansions for the Vanderbilt family. (CNN's Anderson Cooper probably ran around in one when he was little.) Hunt trained at the Paris' École des Beaux-Arts which would later see William Van Alen, the architect of the Chrysler Building.

My harangue against my fellow Americans in their rather feeble attempts at fund-raising to build the pedestal obscured my general admiration for the design of the pedestal itself, which had to be understated but reflect some of the statues general themes. For instance, the shield pattern that runs along the side -- click to see the detailing more closely -- creates a dialogue with Liberty's classical features and underscoring of strength and protection.

Even as the pedestal was still being constructed, the Statue arrived in New York harbor. Here, some workers unpack her feet at the base of the foundation, what was once a star-like fort:

A stroll around the base of Lady Liberty grants you a terrific view of Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of New Jersey. Along the path are some contemporary sculptures of five pivotal figures of Liberty's legacy (all detailed in our podcast) -- Bartholdi, Gustave Eiffel, Édouard René Lefèvre de Laboulaye (pictured below), Joseph Pulitzer and Emma Lazarus.

This strangely creepy depiction of Bertholdi also greets visitors. (Click the pic to see what the curious sign says tucked in his jacket.)

In a prescient bit of fund-raising, Bartholdi sold miniature versions of Lady Liberty before it was even constructed. That honored tradition of capitalism still holds strong throughout every tourist zone in New York City, Liberty Island itself certainly no exception.

By the way, the Statue of Liberty, for many years was actually a deep brown color. When copper oxidizes, however, it turns that rich green color, which prevents it from eroding through rust. The copper used in the construction was so durable that during the extensive 1986 renovation and clean-up of the statue, none of it needed to be replaced. Although Eiffel's contributions overshadowed those of the original architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (who died before the statue was completed), Eugene chose the copper, mined from copper ore obtained in Karmøy, Norway.

Click here to see our history of the Statue of Liberty ... as she appears on album covers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy birthday, Mark Rothko

Tomorrow's podcast will intersect with the shiploads of European immigrants arriving into New York harbor, many as anxious to seek fortunes in the new world as they were to escape the drear misfortunes of the lands they just left.

A 10 year old boy named Marcus Rothkovich was aboard a ship docking at Ellis Island in the winter of 1913. He was there with his mother and sister Sonia, Latvian Jews escaping the oppressive Cossack regime and pograms targeting its Jewish citizens. He was arriving with a rigid Jewish education and great knowledge of the Talmud, something that would not only make him even more of a stranger in America, but even occasionally to his family. His father Jacob had already made the voyage over to get a job, however with a few months of his family's arrival, he would be dead.

Flash just twenty years in the future. Marcus had spent most of his life in Portland, Ore., but as an serious educated young man, he worked his way to Yale, then to New York to study downtown at New School of Design and uptown at the Art Students League of New York (still at 215 West 57th Street). In 1933, almost 20 years after stepping foot at Ellis Island, Mark Rothko had his first one-man show in New York City, at the Contemporary Arts Gallery.

The paintings displayed were not what we would consider 'typical' Rothko. It would take his circle of friends gleaned from the fertile New York art scene to help shape Rothko's concepts of abstractions and color.

Now flash ahead 74 years, to May 2007. A Rothko painting "White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)" sells big at Sotheby's in New York. Huge. $72.8 million. The highest price ever for a post-war painting, which actually smashed the prior record of $27.1 million (for a painting by one of Rothko's friends Willem de Kooning), and before that of $22.5 million which, by chance, was also for a Rothko painting.

Why exactly it sold so much might have had as much to do with its former owner as the painter itself -- it was a prized possession of one David Rockefeller, who was personally there in the room to see it pass hands. (Rockefeller donated the entire amount to charity.) He had originally purchased it in 1960 for $8,500.00 -- pocket change for a Rockefeller -- and it had hung up in his Chase Manhattan office in the financial district.

Rothko had died in 1970; facing a separation from his wife and a heart aneurysm from years of unhealthy behavior, he sliced his wrists and, I guess to be safe, took an overdose of anti-depressants.

But today is his birthday. Born 104 years ago today, his life is a dramatic example of the bittersweet expectations of Ellis Island's new Americans, with ups and downs sometimes as surreal as his paintings.

Where to find Rothko in New York (outside of private owners, naturally), four at the Guggenheim, one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- No. 13 (White, Red, on Yellow) pictured on top -- and an impressive 13 at MoMa.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Worth Square: Madison Square's cemetery for one

As you can tell from this lithograph of the Worth Monument dedication in 1857, it predates most of the development that surrounds it today. (NYPL)

 Few Americans have been so honored by their country that their remains have been buried in the middle of the most famous street in America in their own personal cemetery.

William Jenkins Worth can say that. According to Roadside America, Worth's is one of only three private graves in all of New York City.  Although exactly why he's been singled out with this particular honor is a bit obscure.

Worth Square, next to Madison Square and just feet from the Flatiron Building, is one of those odd traffic islands that's hardly a place of peace and repose.  Broadway and Fifth Avenue rush by on either side and the traffic of 23rd street hurls by on its south side.  But it's here that a monument stands in honor of Worth, a general in the oft-forgotten Mexican-American War, which won for the United States the state of Texas and, eventually, President George W. Bush.

Worth served admirably in many battles of the conflict, becoming the first general in American military history to engage off the shores of Veracruz in 'amphibious warfare' -- namely, the strategic usage of approaches from the water to engage in combat on land.  In 1847 he also personally hoisted the American flag above the palace in Mexico City after the US's victorious conquest there.

Within two years he would be dead of cholera, transported to Brooklyn and buried in Greenwood Cemetery, the hotspot for dead celebrities in the 19th century.  A few years later, he was dug up, brought to Manhattan, and buried at this unusual spot underneath an impressive obelisk designed by James Batterson (later to be the go-to guy for Civil War monuments).  Forgotten NY says that the iron rod gate surrounding this solemn monument is a revered example of iron craftsmanship.

Worth's remains were placed here in a solemn ceremony on November 25, 1857, involving almost 6,500 soldiers in march. Etched upon the monument is a listing of all the many battle Worth fought in.

Worth was born in Hudson, NY, and briefly moved to Albany, but he has no meaningful connection to New York City.  Although I have found no definite conclusion as to why he's buried here, a couple points to consider don't make it seem so odd:

-- Worth served under then-general Zachary Taylor at the start of the Mexican-American War.  By the time Worth died, Taylor was the President of the United States.  Certainly some political favoritism was at play.

-- The monument's location was considered peaceful at one time. Adjacent Madison Square opened two years prior and the building boom that would give us Flatiron, the Met Life Tower and the other beautiful buildings surrounding the park wouldn't occur for decades.  The obelisk would have towered over everything.  It would have truly been a sincere honor to be placed here.

The respect New Yorkers had Worth extended downtown to Worth Street, which was, incidentally, one of the five streets intersecting to create the notorious Five Points district.  Another of the Five Points intersection streets -- Baxter Street -- is named after Charles Baxter, who died in the Mexican-American War. Another example of a well-meaning gesture of honor distorted by the realities of urban growth.

Friday, September 21, 2007

History in the making - 9/22

ABOVE: A detail from Childs Restaurant, on the boardwalk at Coney Island

Never fear, it looks good that Astroland will be returning next year.
[Lost City]

But wha-wha-what? Will it really cost $200 million to fix the boardwalk?
[Gowanus Lounge]

Should four year olds be allowed to pee in the streets of New York without harrassment?!
[Dope on the Slope]

History mystery: what is the secret behind Manhattan's obelisks?
[Forgotton NY]

Morgan's library: a classic midtown structure, marred by modern architecture
[Andrew Cusack]


To get you in the mood for the weekend, every Friday we'll be celebrating 'FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER', featuring an old New York nightlife haunt, from the dance halls of 19th Century Bowery, to the massive warehouse spaces of the mid-90s. Past entries can be found here .

For a change, I thought I'd feature a place that is actually, you know, still open. Although it's pricey enough that most of us won't see it much in our lifetimes.

The Rainbow Room offers quite a stark contrast to the Apollo Theater. The Room opened in the same year (1934) as the Apollo opened its doors to black audiences for the first time. Both elicit images of heavenly bodies. Its similarities naturally end there.

Where the Apollo rose from the site of a sleazy burlesque joint, the Rainbow Room was literally the crown on J.D. Rockefeller Jr.'s newly built palace to commercial welfare, Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller, a clean, moral gentleman who preferred warm milk to champagne, was virtually forced to open the place due to social pressures. Rooftop nightclubs were sprouting up all over the city -- and in all the society pages -- and Rockefeller simply had to have best of everything. 

And thus the man who supported Prohibition opened in Oct 3, 1934 what would become the acme of champagne New York life. And all of it, sixty-five floors above the city, atop what was then the RCA Building.

Its design by Elena Bachman Schmidt, with her assistant Vincent Minnelli (yes, Liza's dad), encapsulated Art Deco luxury while never overshadowing either the clientele or those two-story windows. In fact, faceted mirrors near the bar created an illusion that that gorgeous skyline outside was literally seeping into the room. Perhaps it was, striking a waltz on that impressive dance floor that would have made John Travolta salivate -- a slowly rotating plate glowing with dazzling colors that changed moodily to the music.

However it was the well-coiffed and tuxedoed birds atop the floor that gave the Room its polish. The Rainbow Room was strictly high society; for a time, it was 'white tie' only, until that was relaxed to 'merely' regular tuxedo styles. Its opening night was, as one journalist proclaimed, filled with "five or six hundred of New York's Four Hundred." It was considered the 'upper crust' of nightclubs, and eventually the well-dressed society families were joined by America's unofficial royals -- Broadway and movie stars. Jean Harlow, Cole Porter, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Noel Coward, Bette Davis, Laurence Olivier. The hoity-toity club was no match for Marlene Dietrich, who wanted the band to stop playing waltzes and give her a tango. And they obliged.

(It should be noted, just to keep the Apollo in the back of your mind, that at least for a few years, it was not only 'white tie', it was strictly, entirely white. Blacks were neither admitted nor even allowed to perform. Contrast this to last week's Friday Night Fever feature, Cafe Society, which was in a basement, sure, but whose integrated politics ensured truly world class entertainment.)

The Rainbow Grill soon opened down the hall. A more 'informal' place -- still out of the price range of most New Yorkers -- the Grill was considered a junior edition and attracted the college-age trust-funders.

When they weren't dancing, patrons of the The Rainbow Room dined to the entertainments of a variety of acts, from the hi-lites of the big band era, to a mixture of almost carnival like acts -- trained horses, ping pong champions, magicians, palm readers. In fact, Edgar Bergen and his wooden puppet Charlie McCarthy became national celebrities stemming from just a few performances there.

The Room has seen a couple renovations and a downgrade to 'mere' suit and tie. And the era of high-society nightclubbing itself has transformed into a more Paris Hilton-like debauchery. But it still holds its charms -- as long as you're dressed correctly -- primarily because of that gorgeous view. Have a couple glasses of champagne, gaze out at New York's perfect skyline, and you can't help but feel romantic.

I should add here that down the hall there used to be a fantastic cabaret room called 'Rainbow and Stars' where out of sheer luck (and a regular columnist position as a theater writer, back when I could only afford mac-and-cheese for dinner) I had the privilege to go to write reviews. Imagine that beautiful New York backdrop, in a more intimate setting, with only the world's best cabaret performers plopped in front, singing their hearts out.

 I wore the same (the only) suit jacket each time, I had to scrape up coins just to buy a martini or two. But for a couple hours, like the time I got to watch Rosemary Clooney, I could pretend to understand what it was like to be fabulous and Rockerfellian.

(I gleaned a few facts for this article from the excellent, excellent book Great Fortune by Daniel Okrent, about the building of Rockefeller Center. I love this book so much that I'm actually posting its link at Amazon.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

PODCAST: The Apollo Theater

Harlem's jewel, the Apollo Theater, has more than lived up to its promise as a place "where stars are born and legends are made." It's been the cultural centerpiece of New York for more than seven decades, not bad for a former burlesque theater. And find out which icon made his name -- and held his funeral -- on the same stage.

Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting services. Or you can download or listen to it HERE

First, a clarification from our podcast: the building of the Lenox Avenue line did greatly increase development in the Harlem area, and a great many of Harlem's most beautiful blocks were developed at or near this time. But this boom did not benefit the increasing African-American members of the neighborhood. In a twist of absurd racism that just seems not only ridiculous but economically short-sighted, owners would let buildings sit vacant, waiting for white tenants, rather than rent them out to black ones.

Luckily, areas like Strivers Row (pictured below, located about ten blocks north of the Apollo) soon dissolved that color barrier, and it was in neighborhoods like these that the community flourished.

The Apollo would see dozens of major names in R&B, jazz and pop hit its stage in just a few months, as acts would be stacked on top of each other, giving audiences an opportunity to sample lists of artists topping the charts, all at once.

However, what would often set the Apollo apart from other venues was not its talent, but its audiences. I love this quote from Ozzie Davis, about a play that he and his wife Ruby Dee performed on the stage of the Apollo: "The play lasted 15 to 20 minutes longer at the Apollo because the people laughed at everything and their laughter would stop the show. It was like having a show and a prayer meeting at the same time. It was wonderful."

Near the height of her fame, Aretha Franklin returned to Apollo, a place that had seen many of her early performances. She performed a string of performances in 1971, all of them sold out, to a marquee outside that pronounced 'She's Home'. In the 60s, comedians like Bill Cosby, Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor built their stand-up followings at the Apollo. Before them, however it was Moms Mabley, one of the first female comedians to grace the Apollo stage, taking up a virtual residence there that lasted from the late 30s to the 60s. She would perform at the Apollo more than any other performer in its history, making up to $10,000 a week in her heyday. (That's an awful lot of dough in 1950s money.)

When James Brown died, the Apollo lost its leading light, the man that typified the world-class entertainment it had come to be known for. His funeral was attended by thousands of fans, who traipsed up to the stage to see the King of Soul a final time.

I can't help but find this picture of Al Sharpton and the body of James Brown on the stage of the Apollo a little strange, however.

Al Sharpton, a close friend of Brown's, was quoted as saying, "I don't think any of us could think James Brown could die. It didn't seem possible." James is very much living and breathing on his pivotal recording 'Live At The Apollo', which Rolling Stone called the most important live album ever recorded. Listening to this, he does seem to have an air of immortality and boundless talent and energy.

This past Saturday, I happened to be sauntering by the Apollo and caught this line of auditioners for Amateur Night filing into the back of the building to try out. Behold, for the chances are very good that what you are looking at is surely the backside of a major future star!

Those who gave a little rub to the sliver of the Tree of Hope have given better performances, at least according to legend. And given the Apollo's track record, who can balk? Down the street at 131st and Adam Clayton Blvd,, near the original location of the Tree of Hope, you can find a sculpture by Al Miller commemorating the original tree, as well plaque laid in 1941 in a ceremony by mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and entertainer Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson. Robinson, naturally, was a frequenter of the stage of the Apollo. Like many performers of his era, he would sometimes perform up to 3 to 5 times a day to soldout shows.

The Apollo is considered one of the most prestigious venues in the city and is host to musicians covering a wide swath of genres -- gospel, hip hop, alternative. Below, it's Bjork that takes the stage:

The Apollo Theater currently has tours for groups, led by longtime Apollo employee and ultimate historian Billy Mitchell. You can go to their official website for information, and you can go here for info on getting tickets to Showtime At The Apollo. (Billy and the Apollo's slice of the Tree of Hope is at right.)

Please go here for some information on another Harlem music icon The Cotton Club, and here for all entries in our Friday Night Fever series.