Tin Pan Alley
Berlin to Scott Joplin, Fats Waller to Cole Porter, the composers
and lyricists of Tin Pan Alley wrote the songs that defined American
popular culture from the late-1880s to the mid-1950s. Beginning
as early as 1885, music publishers flocked to this singular block,
on West 28th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues in Manhattan,
to set up shop.
A number of the structures that housed these creative
agencies still remain: the row houses at 45, 47, 49, 51, 53 and
55 West 28th Street. Yet despite their undeniable significance,
these five properties sit unprotected and vulnerable to development
and real estate pressures.
As of November 2008, Loopnet
listed the properties as up for sale – for a whopping
$44,000,000.00. The broker’s pitch? “5 contiguous mixed-use
[properties] to be demo’ed, yielding over 111,000 sf of Prime
This is no way to treat American cultural history.
The preservation of these five row houses is long overdue and now
it’s up to the Landmarks Commission to preserve these important
structures for generations to come.
December, 2008 Update --Ever
since last month’s AP
article about Tin Pan Alley broke the news about the threats
to these buildings, we’ve been contacted from people across
the country wanting to help save these them. “American popular
standards are among the most treasured contributions America has
made to the world. Tin Pan Alley is the invaluable physical reminder
of that contribution. It is the embodiment of an important part
of our musical legacy, and it should be saved, ” writes one
person. “By saving Tin Pan Alley you are also saving a crucial
piece of racial and ethnic immigrant/migrant culture in the U.S.
I am a scholar writing a book on African Americans in Tin Pan Alley.
Where can my readers go to imagine what once was? And what will
they see when they get there? High-rises? Condos? How depressing
to leave no trace of this rich history.” , writes another.
And finally; “Salzburg has Mozart, we have Tin Pan Alley.
America's music was defined in these buildings. We're a young country
and often throw out our history - The heritage of Tin Pan Alley
is something that inspires me daily.”
The buildings unfortunately are still potentially
under threat; we are unable to confirm whether or not 47-55 West
28th Street are still on the market. HDC is in the process of putting
together a verifiable history of the site and has been aided by
a wide group of historians, tenants and experts who have been very
generous with their knowledge. Did you know that Zero Mostel lived
on the block and kept a painting studio there? That an early resident
was the family whom “Jones Street” in Greenwich Village
was named after (but not “Great Jones Street”)?
for more information and get involved and help us save Tin Pan Alley
by signing this
petition to urge for it's preservation!
Pan Alley's Sad Tune - City's Musical Heritage Under $eige, New
York Post, Oct. 9, 2008
Tin Pan Alley Put Up for Sale in New York City, CBS News, Oct. 9.
Also, visit our colleagues at Lost
City, who broke the news of the possible sale and started
this whole thing rolling.