When we posted on Harlem's 67 Orange Street (top photo) jazz sundays, we were reminded that the uptown lounge was inspired by an original downtown speakeasy over 150 years ago. The story goes that the original establishment on 67 Orange Street was called Almack's Dance Hall, which was located in the notorious Five Points slum intersection. Harlem was then a land of genteel white-owned country homes in the Civil War era of New York City, and the Five Points was were poor ethnic whites and African Americans made their living. Almack's was founded by Pete Williams, an African American actor who attracted folks from all classes to his famous establishment known for lively music, festive dancing and its diverse ethnic clientele. The third photo from 1859 shows the intersection of Cross Street with Orange Street veering of into the northern reaches. The last photograph, taken around 1875, shows the same view up Orange Street. This section would have had houses numbers 30-42, and Almack's would have been a block further north from this corner, on the right hand side of the street.
Today, both 67 Orange Street locations reflect the ever changing make-up of New York's cultural neighborhoods. The original Orange Street goes by the name of Baxter Street in modern times, and the area is now known as New York City's Chinatown. In the opposite direction further north, the new 67 Orange Street on FDB/8th Avenue in Harlem, reflects the change in upper Manhattan when African Americans started moving north from lower regions of New York City in the early 20th Century. Read more about 67 Orange Street in our past post and check out their Sunday night jazz events: LINK. Archival photos courtesy NYPL. Current photo by Melissa Hom.