Friday, October 10, 2008

The End of Tin Pan Alley

Just as New York's economy crashes, Tin Pan Alley, which helped make the City a haven for good times, hits the fiscal chopping block. As originally reported by Brooks of Sheffield at Lost City,the historic block of five buildings on West 28th Street that constituted Tin Pan Alley are up for sale. That’s just like New York under Bloomberg, isn’t it? Abandoning the historic parts of the City for more glass and steel condos. But it's gone too far. Surely the ghosts of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, Scott Joplin, Cole Porter, Fats Waller and the other greats who created America’s original soundtrack are flinching in their skeletons. I spoke with one resident senior citizen sitting on her stoop who said she fully expects the tenants to be either evicted or bought out prior to the block being razed.

From Lost City: “The listing has been up since September. One can only hope that, with the current economy, the seller doesn't have a chance in hell of making that price. Lost City has previously decried the fact that these buildings—once home to music publishers that fostered the talents of songwriters Gershwin, Berlin, Donaldson, Carmichael, Warren, Waller, Kahn, Cohan, Mercer, Youmans and dozens more—have been left to rot, with nothing marking their significance to American culture save a small plaque. They don't enjoy landmark status. No pocket museum or tourism bureau marks their presence. It's a positive shanda!"

Here is a partial list of standards that were written in Tin Pan Alley:

* "The Band Played On," 1895 * "A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight," 1896 * "Hello! Ma Baby (Hello Ma Ragtime Gal)," 1899 * "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," 1902 * "In The Good Old Summertime," 1902 * "Give My Regards To Broadway," 1904 * "Shine On Harvest Moon," 1908 * "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," 1908 * "By The Light Of The Silvery Moon," 1909 * "Down By The Old Mill Stream," 1910 * "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," 1910 * "Alexander's Ragtime Band," 1911 * "God Bless America," 1918 * "Swanee," 1919 * "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans," 1922 * "Sweet Georgia Brown," 1925 * "Ain't She Sweet," 1927 * "Happy Days Are Here Again," 1930

A view inside 49 West 28th...

The tile over which the Gershwins once tapped their toes...


Anonymous said...

very cool.

Virginia said...

KM, What a wonderful visual tribute to this wonderful part of NYC's history. What a shame to let this go under the wrecking ball. Bravo for your voice!

Wayne said...

This is too stupid for words. The world has grown up on the songs written here.

A pox on any developer that demolishes this site.

Thanks Ken

Laurie Allee said...

I could cry about this. In fact, I think I will cry about this. These are the songs of our collective soul. This is such a special place in New York and United States History. If this isn't worthy of landmark status -- then what IS?

Damn. Suddenly I hear Hoagy Carmichael's "How Little We Know" in my head.

Thanks for these beautiful shots, Ken.

Ken Mac said...

Heck I didn't know he wrote that. Thanks Laurie

GMG said...

Hi Ken! Sorry for the delay in coming here, but these last weeks have been hectic; no, I’m not talking about the financial/economic crisis… ;))
It's always said when the lack of vision drives you to the loss of history; it seems to be happening a bit everywhere. It must be lack of culture...
Loved to see your Village Cigars pictures and posts! And re-visit the Minetta Tavern; had some nice meals there...
Meanwhile Blogtrotter is now on its 200th post: «The Libyan Sea»! Hope you enjoy! Have a great weekend!

D said...

Why why why isn't this place on the National Register of Historic Landmarks?
Thanks for sharing the photos and history. said...

I've heard of this name, Tin Pan Alley & must confess I never knew it was an actual place.
I had no idea of this incredible history! This is too sad that it will soon be no more.

Ming the Merciless said...

I absolutely love Photo #5 -- the one looking through the chicken wire window onto the stairwell.

Anonymous said...

Oh! It would be a pity!!
Don't let that go on.

Jane Hards Photography said...

I can't believe this place is for demolition. Name me a song from the 2oth century that is not 6 degrees od separation from this place. Pure class, unlike the crap churned out now.

• Eliane • said...

I'm not sure what Bloomberg has to do with any of this. Aren't these buildings privately owned? Or are they property of the city? Are they landmark buildings?
Loved the reportage! A very nice hommage to the era and great pictures!

sonia a. mascaro said...

You did a good post with great photos. Love specially the 2# photo, with the fire escapes.

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