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Park Plaza and Park Palace

About this listing

Dance hall dubbed the "birthplace of New York Latin dance music"

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Harlem
Theater, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

Today people come here to worship, but beginning in the 1920s New Yorkers came to Park Plaza to dance, arriving from all over the city to rhumba, mambo, and cha-cha-cha. As Jewish and Italian East Harlem slowly gave way to Puerto Rican El Barrio, the Palace was reborn as the "birthplace of New York Latin dance music." The main, high-ceilinged hall on the second floor held 1500 people.

The Park Palace, downstairs, was a smaller space; perfect for community social events that at times required formal attire. Playing the Park Plaza helped launch the careers of Latin music greats such as Machito and the Afro-Cubans, Tito Puente, Joe Cuba, Charlie and Eddie Palmieri. Here, as in other venues, a creative synthesis of Cuban rhythms, largely Puerto Rican musicians, and New York energy was, by the 1940s and 1950s, producing a distinctive New York sound. Its intense percussion, fast pace, and...

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David M. Carp

Nominated through the Mambo to Hip Hop Community Focus project.

Reina Trochez

It was a great place where Latin people came to dance to their own music, and to bring back memories of their native countries. It was a place where they could enjoy their own traditional food and own culture. It was a place where new talents were born like Tito Puente, Joe Cuba, and other great singers of Latin music.

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