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The History Of Jazz - 52nd Street, Manhattan

52nd Street is a 1.9-mile (3.1 km) long one-way street traveling West to East across Midtown Manhattan, New York City. A short section of it was known as the City's Centre of Jazz Performance from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 52nd Street replaced 133rd Street as ' Swing Street' of the city. The blocks of 52nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Seventh Avenue became renowned for the abundance of jazz clubs and lively street life.

The street was convenient to musicians playing on Broadway and the 'legitimate' nightclubs and was also the site of a CBS studio. Musicians who played for others in the early evening played for themselves on 52nd Street.

In its heyday from 1930 through the early 1950s 52nd Street clubs hosted such jazz legends as Miles Davis, Harry Gibson, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Nat Jaffe, Marian McPartland, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Louis Prima, Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Trummy Young, and many more.

Although musicians from all schools performed there, after Minton's Playhouse in uptown Harlem, 52nd Street was the second most important place for the dissemination of bebop,  In fact a tune called '52nd Street Theme' by Thelonious Monk became a bebop anthem and jazz standard. Virtually every great jazz player and singer of the era performed at these clubs.


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The History Of Jazz - 52nd Street, Manhattan

Noted jazz disc jockey Symphony Sid frequently did live broadcasts from 52nd Street making it well-known across the country.

By the late 1940s the jazz scene began moving elsewhere around the city and urban renewal began to take hold of the street.

By the 1960s most of the legendary clubs were razed or fell into disrepair. The last jazz club there closed in 1968 though one remains today as a restaurant.

Today the street is full of banks, shops and department stores and shows little trace of its jazz history. The block from 5th to 6th Avenues is formally co-named 'Swing Street' and one block west is called ' W.C. Handys Place'.

The 21 Club is the sole surviving club on 52nd Street that also existed during the 1940s. The venue for the original  Birdland at 1674 Broadway (between 52nd & 53rd) which came into existence in 1949 is now a 'Gentlemen's Club'. The current Birdland is on 44th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.

* Also see :- Louis Armstrong Biography
* Also see :- Dave Brubeck Biography
* Also see :- John Hammond Biography
* Also see :- Nica de Koenigswarter Biography
* Also see :- Tin Pan Alley
* Also see
:- The History Of Jazz

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