I was at my friend Jojo‘s house about a year and a half ago, watching some old VHS tapes of dance stuff she had. Among the home movies she had was a taped documentary featuring Cab Calloway. He was checking out this amazing cartoon map of Harlem from back in the 30′s and remembering all the places. Since then I’ve been trying to find a readable copy of it. A while ago I found that the title is “A Nightclub Map of Harlem” and it was drawn in 1932 by E. Simms Campbell, a cartoonist who went on to great success with his drawings in Ebony Magazine. My searches for it turned up little that was actually legible — until this week. Check out the link to view a closeup on Flickr:
I love the great depictions of Harlemites and the little comments everywhere… “Specializes in fried chicken – and it’s really good!” … “Nothing happens before 2 a.m. Ask for Clarence.” Cab Calloway made a joking comment about what a deal those marijuana cigarettes seemed at the time of filming, “2 for $.25″.
Unfortunately it seems that every copy I’ve seen is cropped on every side so we are missing a portion of this great work. My new side project is to find the original drawing and get the rights to print it as a poster. It might even be in the public domain, depending on whether rights were renewed. How great would it be to have this framed up on your wall?
As far as I can tell, the last place the original was shown was at an exhibit at the Smithsonian in 1996. I’m hoping that it is still there; I’ll post updates if I make any progress!