Geography of the Jazz Age in North America


Club Mardi Gras in Kansas City, MO – Source: flickr.com

The Jazz Age represented the musical form’s peak period of popularity between 1920 and 1960. While New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York were and remain the preeminent epicenters of jazz, in many other cities across the country, vibrant jazz scenes developed along specific corridors, primarily within or close to historically black neighborhoods. Often, these jazz venues, along with those that specialized in blues music, were among the first places in the community where blacks and whites could safely congregate together and socialize.

Maison Bourbon Jazz Club in New Orleans – Source: maisonbourbon.com

To fully analyze the geography of jazz across North America, one also has to analyze the reasons(s) for its demise in some cities. Sadly, America’s racial injustice and bigotry played a part through redlining, urban renewal, interstate highway construction, and other policies/actions in destroying and/or displacing many historically black neighborhoods. In many cases, the local jazz music scene never recovered. Today, many of these cities would love to have the historic jazz music scene that they once sought to destroy.

The Cotton Club in Harlem – Source: soundbeat.org

On a more positive note regarding race relations, desegregation/integration efforts in the 1960s allowed African-Americans many more choices on where to live. An indirect result of this was dispersal of the jazz music fan base, eventually leading to movement from and/or closure of venues in the historically black neighborhoods. Individual business decisions and a gradual decline in jazz’s popularity were factors, as well.

Paradise Theater in Detroit – Source: hourdetroit.com

The following city neighborhoods once had vibrant, concentrated jazz scenes that were largely destroyed and/or displaced through urban renewal, interstate highway construction, or other similar actions.

  • Akron, OH: Howard Street – destroyed and displaced by the State Hwy. 59 Freeway
  • Chicago, IL: “The Stroll” (S. State Street) in Bronzeville – destroyed/displaced by urban renewal
  • Chicago, IL: Hyde Park (55th Street), South Shore, and Woodlawn (63rd Street) – expansion of the University of Chicago and urban renewal – (Updated 8/7/19)
  • Cincinnati, OH: West End – destroyed/displaced by construction of I-75, Union Terminal, and urban renewal
  • Columbus, OH: Mount Vernon Avenue (near East Side) – destroyed/displaced by I-71 and urban renewal projects
  • Dallas, TX: Deep Ellum – disrupted by the US 75/Central Expressway (Added 8/7/19)
  • Des Moines, IA: Center Street – replaced by parking lots, industrial parks, and I-235
  • Detroit, MI: Hastings Avenue (Black Bottom and Paradise Valley) – destroyed/displaced by construction of I-75 and I-375
  • Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Avenue – destroyed/displaced through urban renewal
  • Jacksonville, FL: West Ashley Street (LaVilla) – now parking lots and largely vacant buildings
  • Milwaukee, WI: Walnut Street (Bronzeville) – destroyed and displayed by interstate highways and urban renewal
  • New Orleans, LA: Back o’ Town – much was demolished for urban renewal and the Superdome  (Added 8/9/19)
  • New Orleans, LA: Storyville – most was demolished in the 1940s for public housing (Added 8/9/19)
  • Oakland, CA: West Seventh Avenue – decimated by the Cypress Freeway, BART, and urban renewal
    Oklahoma City, OK: NE Second Street (Deep Deuce) – construction of I-235 and more recently gentrification
  • Pittsburgh, PA: Lower Hill District – destroyed by construction of Civic Arena
  • Portland, OR: Williams Avenue – destroyed by I-5, Memorial Coliseum, and Rose Garden
  • San Francisco, CA: The Fillmore District – fractured by redevelopment and renewal efforts
  • Savannah, GA: West Broad Street (Frogtown) – construction of I-16 (Added 8/7/19)
  • Tampa, FL: Central Avenue – construction of I-275
  • Tulsa, OK: Greenwood District – construction of I-244

The following city neighborhoods had once-vibrant concentrated jazz scenes that gradually disappeared or diminished over time for a mix of reasons, including, but not limited to decline in jazz popularity, desegregation, relocation, business decisions, etc.

  • Asbury Park, NJ: Springwood Avenue
  • Atlantic City, NJ: Kentucky Avenue (Northside)
  • Baltimore, MD: Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Buffalo, NY: “Jazz Triangle” around Broadway & Michigan (Added 8/7/19)
  • Denver, CO: Five Points
  • Detroit, MI: Jefferson-Chalmers (Added 8/9/19)
  • Harrisburg, PA: 7th Ward
  • Hartford, CT: North End
  • Idlewild, MI: Summer resort community
  • Las Vegas, NV: “The Strip” (post-WWII) (Added 8/7/19)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN: Mendota
  • New Haven, CT: Dixwell neighborhood (Added 8/7/19)
  • New York City, NY: “Swing Street” (52nd Avenue)
  • Omaha, NE: North 24th Street
  • Philadelphia, PA: South Broad Street (South Philly) and Columbia Avenue/”the Golden Strip” (North Philly)
  • Sacramento, CA: West K Street (West End)
  • San Francisco, CA: Tenderloin District
  • Seattle, WA: Jackson Street
  • St. Louis, MO: DeBaliviere Strip (late 19502 and 1960s)
  • St. Louis, MO: Gaslight Square (1940s and most of the 1950s)
  • Toronto, ON: near West Side
  • Vancouver, BC: Granville Street (particularly during prohibition) (Added 8/7/19)
  • Washington, DC: U Street and 14th Street Corridors
  • Wilmington, DE: Eastside (Added 8/7/19)
  • Worcester, MA: Summer and Mains Streets in Downtown (Added 8/7/19)

“The Golden Strip” in North Philadelphia- Source: phillyjazz.us

The following cities continue to have vibrant jazz communities, though not as concentrated as they once were – the neighborhoods listed are historic jazz districts. While venues may still be found in some of these neighborhoods, the jazz club scene tends to be more dispersed than they were during the Jazz Age of 1920-1960.

  • Austin, TX: East 11th and 12th Streets (East Side)
  • Boston, MA: Columbus Avenue (South End)
  • Chicago, IL: Uptown, Loop, and South Side neighborhoods listed above
  • Havana, Cuba: Vedado neighborhood
  • Kansas City, MO: 18th & Vine and 12th Street
  • Los Angeles, CA: Central Avenue (“the Avenue”)
  • Montreal, QC: Little Burgundy
  • Newark, NJ:”The Coast” (a.k.a. the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District)
  • New Orleans, LA: The French Quarter, Algiers, Black Pearl, Central City, and Gerttown, as well as the neighborhoods mentioned above (Updated 8/9/19)
  • New York City, NY: neighborhoods listed above, as well as Harlem and Greenwich Village

Source: popspotsnyc.com

Several other cities, including Cleveland, Durham, Louisville, and Toledo had active jazz music scenes during the Jazz Age, as well, but they were not concentrated in one area. While we always try to be comprehensive in our listings, if there are any additions, corrections, or suggestions to improve this post, please feel free to pass them along.

Louis Armstrong – Source: theculturetrip.com

If you are interested in learning more about jazz, here are several general history resources available through Amazon.*

http://        http://        http://

Here are also some local jazz histories to consider.*

http://    http://        http://

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

SOURCES:

This entry was posted in art, cities, Communications, culture, diversity, economic development, entertainment, gentrification, geography, government, historic preservation, history, inclusiveness, land use, Maps, music, music reviews, North America, placemaking, planning, politics, racism, Radio, social equity, songs, theaters, third places, tourism, transportation, Travel, urban planning, zoning and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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