5. Lenox Lounge

lenox lounge

The Lenox Lounge was located on Lenox Avenue, just south of 125th Street. It was established in in 1939 by Dominic Greco. It was known for hosting the greatest jazz musicians including John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. In addition, the African American luminaries such as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X were regulars in the Lounge’s Zebra Room. The Zebra Room received its name from the mock-zebra wallpaper that graced its walls.

As the neighborhood declined, the Lenox Lounge suffered a similar ignominious fate. During the 1990s, as interest in the area began to rise, Madonna’s “Secret” music video and the remake of Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson were both filmed there. In 2000, the Lenox Lounge underwent a $600,000 renovation and all looked bright once again. Sadly, this was not to last. As a result of a lease dispute, on December 31, 2012, the Lenox Lounge closed and the premises was gutted. There is slight chance it might reopen, but with every passing year it seems more and more unlikely.

The Lenox Lounge was featured as a tavern in the 1949 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book.

Next check out NYC’s Historic Ballrooms, Grand Entertainment Venues of Another Era and look inside the Gutted Lenox Lounge in Harlem as It Transforms Into The Lounge