09 October 2008

More Tin Pan Alley Reportage

The potential loss of what was Tin Pan Alley has struck a chord in the press. Here's another article on WCBS-TV.

Original Tin Pan Alley Put Up For Sale In N.Y.C.

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Tin Pan Alley, once the home of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin and dozens of other great American songwriters, is up for sale.

Five buildings in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood are being offered as a group for $44 million. A listing on a real estate Web site, Loopnet, recommends that the buildings at 47, 49, 51, 53 and 55 W. 28th Street be torn down and that a high-rise be built in their place.

Preservationists and tenants are not happy.

"These buildings are incredibly significant to the development of New York City. They helped launch the careers of songwriters and musicians who are still popular today," said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council.

Although there is no indication of it today, Tin Pan Alley housed a concentration of music publishers and songwriters from the 1890s to the 1950s. It is the place where Berlin wrote "God Bless America" and where George M. Cohan wrote "Give My Regards to Broadway." "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" was another tune written there, helping establish the area as a significant contributor to the great American songbook.

Among the other more recognizable songwriters and lyricists who spent time in Tin Pan Alley were Hoagy Carmichael, Scott Joplin, Cole Porter and Fats Waller.

The real estate listing has been active since September, but appears [EDITOR NOTE: "Appears," my ass; it was] to have been first reported this week on a blog, Lost City, which describes itself as "a running Jeremiad on the vestiges of Old New York as they are steamrolled under or threatened by the currently ruthless real estate market and the City Fathers' disregard for Gotham's historical and cultural fabric." The blog reports that in addition to songwriters, 55 W. 28th Street was also the home of "Mother Earth," the magazine started in 1906 by anarchist Emma Goldman.

Here is a partial list of standards that were written in Tin Pan Alley:

* "The Band Played On," 1895
* "A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight," 1896
* "Hello! Ma Baby (Hello Ma Ragtime Gal)," 1899
* "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," 1902
* "In The Good Old Summertime," 1902
* "Give My Regards To Broadway," 1904
* "Shine Little Glow Worm," 1907
* "Shine On Harvest Moon," 1908
* "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," 1908
* "By The Light Of The Silvery Moon," 1909
* "Down By The Old Mill Stream," 1910
* "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," 1910
* "Alexander's Ragtime Band," 1911
* "God Bless America," 1918
* "Swanee," 1919
* "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans," 1922
* "Sweet Georgia Brown," 1925
* "Ain't She Sweet," 1927
* "Happy Days Are Here Again," 1930

The name Tin Pan Alley appears to have been originated by a newspaper writer who visited the area circa 1900, according to music historian Rick Reublin on the Web site parlorsongs.com.

"Monroe Rosenfeld ... coined the term to symbolize the cacophony of the many pianos being pounded in publishers' demo rooms which he characterized as sounding as though hundreds of people were pounding on tin pans," Reublin wrote. "According to the story, he used the term in a series of articles ... around the turn of the century (20th) and it caught on."

Also there's a story on the lazy-ass AP which doesn't mention Lost City as the source, the bastards. Of course, that's the one that everyone from Yahoo to Salon to the Chicago Tribune picked up.


Anonymous said...

Thanks bring this to everyone's attention. I've talked to LPC about it yesterday (and actually suggested this back in 2001 when the Madison Square North HD was designated). Hopefully, something can & will be done.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Simeon: Would you please contact me via my "Contact Me" connection. I'd like to help out with whatever efforts you attempt in support of saving this district.

Anonymous said...

Gawker did a post on it today as well...

Excellent scoop, Brooks.

I'm hoping for the best on this, of course....