In Jimmy Heath’s autobiography “I Walked with Giants,” drummer Roy Haynes recounted:
I met Jimmy around 1946 when I was with Luis Russell and we played the Earle Theater in Philadelphia. A lot of the big bands would come through the Earle. We stayed at the Douglas Hotel, which was in South Philly. That was the hotel where a lot of the big black bands stayed.
The building is still there. The historical marker out front notes that Billie Holiday lived here when she was in town.
The Douglass Hotel was first listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book in 1938. The safe space was not just a place to lay one’s head. The legendary Show Boat was located in the lower level where John Coltrane recorded a live album in 1961 and 1963.
After the Show Boat, the space became the Bijou Café. Grover Washington, Jr. recorded live from the Bijou Café in 1977.
The lower level of 1409 Lombard Street was a magical space.
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