All That Philly Jazz Director Faye Anderson leads a walking tour, “Ridge Avenue Stroll through Philly’s Jazz History.”
In the wake of the Great Migration, the demographics of North Philadelphia’s Sharswood neighborhood changed. The new residents fueled the growth of commercial establishments along Ridge Avenue that catered to African Americans. From the Blue Note (15th Street) to the Crossroads Bar (23rd Street), Ridge Avenue was a jazz corridor and entertainment district.
Ridge Avenue was also a safe haven from the indignities of racial discrimination. African American entertainers performed in Center City at places such as the Earle Theater and Ciro’s, but they were not allowed to stay in downtown hotels. The Negro Motorist Green Book helped black travelers navigate Jim Crow laws in the South and racial segregation in the North. Published from 1936 to 1966, the “Green Book” listed hotels, restaurants, night clubs, beauty parlors and other services that enabled African Americans to “vacation without aggravation.”
Moving along, we check out the Hotel LaSalle which was listed in the “Green Book” and advertised in the NAACP’s Crisis magazine.
We then stop by V-Tone Records, the LaSalle Beauty Parlor and Butler’s Paradise Café (listed in the “Green Book”).
Next stops: Ridge Cotton Club (listed in the “Green Book”) and the Pearl Theatre.
The highlight of the walk is the Checker Café, one of the last vestiges of the Ridge Avenue entertainment district.
We talk and walk the streets where future jazz legends such as Pearl Bailey, Clifford Brown, Cab Calloway, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Philly Joe Jones, Charlie Parker and Nancy Wilson once roamed. For more information, email Faye and firstname.lastname@example.org.