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Alhambra Theatre and Ballroom (former)

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The last standing of Harlem's historic dance halls

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Central Harlem
Theater, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

The Alhambra Theatre and Ballroom was established in 1900 and served as a popular dance hall and theatre, witnessing the rise of jazz, the evolution of dance styles and legendary performances by Bessie Smith, Jelly Roll Morton and Billie Holliday. Surviving the Savoy, Celebrity and Renaissance Ballrooms, the Alhambra building is the last remaining of Harlem's historic dance halls, although it is no longer used as such.


Anonymous Nominator

The Alhambra Theatre and Ballroom began as a variety house built by Percy G. Williams, the vaudeville mogul of 1900. In 1905, the variety house was sold to the Keith Vaudeville Circuit and named the Alhambra Theatre. The premier of Lew Leslie's famous Blackbirds of 1926, starring Florence Mills and Bill Robinson, transformed the theatre into one of the major black-oriented houses during the 1920s. Legendary performers Bessie Smith, Jelly Roll Morton, Tony Award Winner Frank Manning and singing waitress, Billie Holiday, further supported the success of the venue. The presentation of the musical Hot Chocolates in 1929, before reaching Broadway, guaranteed the prominent role the Alhambra Theatre would play during the Harlem Renaissance and ultimately within the social history of America.

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