Rewind: Harlem Nights at the Hotel Theresa

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By Tom Meyers and Bowery Boys Media. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The Hotel Theresa is considered a genuine (if under-appreciated) Harlem gem, both for its unique architecture and its special place in history as the hub for African-American life in the 1940s and 50s.

The luxurious apartment hotel was built by a German lace manufacturer to cater to a wealthy white clientele. But almost as soon as the final brick was laid, Harlem itself changed, thanks to the arrival of thousands of new black residents from the South.

Harlem, renown the world over for the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance and its burgeoning music scene, was soon home to New York’s most thriving black community. But many of the businesses here refused to serve black patrons, or at least certainly made them unwelcome.

The Theresa changed its policy in 1940 and soon its lobby was filled with famous athletes, actresses and politicians, many choosing to live at the Hotel Theresa over other hotels in Manhattan. The hotel’s relative small size made it an interesting concentration of America’s most renown black celebrities.

In this podcast, Greg gives you a tour of this glamorous scene, from the corner bar to the penthouse, from the breakfast table of Joe Louis to the crazy parties of Dinah Washington.

WITH: Martin Luther King Jr, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Fidel Castro. And music by Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine and Duke Ellington

ALSO: Who is this mysterious Theresa? What current Congressman was a former desk clerk? And what was Joe Louis’ favorite breakfast food?

The first half of this show was originally released in 2013 (as Episode #158) but has been newly edited for this release. The second half of this show is ALL NEW.

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MUSIC FEATURED: "Sophisticated Lady" by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra and "Dedicated To You" by Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan.

Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/boweryboys

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416 episodes