9. Palladium Ballroom


Once located at 53rd Street and Broadway, the Palladium Ballroom (not to be confused with The Palladium on 14th Street) is best known for its promotion of Latin big band music. But when it first opened, Palladium Ballroom had a racially restrictive policy until business needs forced it to accept blacks, Puerto Ricans and Cubans into its clientele. Immigration from Latin America after WWII was on the rise, and its population would revolutionize the New York City dance scene. With most of the Latin music was being played uptown, in neighborhoods like Spanish Harlem, the Palladium became the first venue downtown to host a Latin matinee, starting in 1948. Singers like Celia Cruz, Arsenio Rodríguez, Tito Puente, and Desi Arnaz performed here and the success at the Palladium Ballroom spread Latin music to the other venues in the city.

The mambo is also credited to have started at the Palladium in 1948, while the venue also hosted dance competitions, pie contests, and something called the “Female Best Leg Contest.” The Palladium closed in 1966.