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A Night-Club Map of Harlem


If you haven't seen this amazing illustration before I'm happy to bring it to your attention now. This piece of art is by cartoonist Elmer Simms Campbell and it depicts some of the amazing night life in Harlem in 1932.


I wanted to find a nice quality image of this piece to share with you all and the search produced some interesting results. I first came upon this page:


This page has a nice brief write-up of the map and description of some of its particulars. But then I saw that they credited Lindy Hop's own Mike Thibault, of Rochester, NY with their information. Mike's been dancing for over 20 years and he runs Groove Juice Swing in Rochester as well as Swing out New Hampshire. He is also an avid Lindy Hop & Jazz historian and has contributed some great materials and information to the Lindy Hop History Museum at ILHC, so I contacted him to ask him about it.


Turns out he was searching for the original of this piece over a decade ago, before there were really any high-quality scans of it available online. Check out his brief blog post here:


Then he found out about an opportunity to purchase the piece at auction. Check out that update here: (tldr: he wasn't able to get it - it went for $80K!)


Lucky for us now there is a super hi-res version that is now available via the Library of Congress. This scan is from the original printing of the cartoon back in the weekly paper, "Manhattan" on January 18, 1933.


Check out the Library of Congress version here:


While it is great to get such a close look at the printed version, from Mike's telling it sounds as it the original piece was even more stunning and nuanced, with shadings and even bits of Campbell's original pencil sketch (which differed in some places) underneath. In any case this is a beautiful time capsule that captures not only names & places, but also a style and an aesthetic of this amazing era in Harlem.

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