3. Savoy Ballroom

Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom was located on 140th Street and Lenox Avenue and took up the second floor of an entire block. An evening at the Savoy Ballroom usually featured two bands, performing in what was considered the world’s most beautiful ballroom. It was a luxury experience, managed by African Americans, and modeled after Roseland Ballroom. Unlike other venues in the city, it never had a discriminatory policy–ability to dance was far more important. The Savoy also participated in the 1939’s World Fair with a performance by the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Colored Dancers.”

The Savoy’s place in history, along with the famous performers who came through like Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and the Savoy Lindy Hoppers, is well-regarded, but the actual building could not be saved from demolition. The Savoy and neighboring Cotton Club were both demolished for a housing project. Today the only thing to mark its existence is a plaque, installed in 2002.

The Savoy was one of two Dance Halls in New York City featured in the 1949 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book, which sold for seventy-five cents.

Next, view 11 more of NYC’s Historic Ballrooms, Grand Entertainment Venues of Another Era