• A Nightclub Map of Harlem

    Author: Mike Thibault 56 comments

    1 April 2016: A small update for those interested.

    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:

    A Nightclub Map of Harlem

    A Nightclub Map of Harlem, by E. Simms Campbell

    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!

    Posted in Dance, Music

    56 responses to “A Nightclub Map of Harlem”

    1. If you find out how to make this into a poster I want one! Very cool find, Mike.

    2. I LOVE this map. Mike, I think you had previously found a picture online of someone who has it as a mural, but I can’t find the link now. Can you post it? Also, Mike Faltesek has a tattoo of the compas done by Peter Loggins, and he told me Peter took it from a book, though I don’t know which one. Worth investigating.

    3. Yeah, I’m pretty sure the photo of the mural was on Flickr and is no longer there. I saved it on my home computer way back when and dug it up the other day… Unfortunately it contains the same cropping. :\

    4. yeah, same clipped version is printed in the Ken Burns JAZZ book. i dig the worthy quest.

    5. The photo credit in the Ken Burns book says the image was reprinted by permission of Campbell’s daughter Elizabeth Campbell Rollins. According to Google she was once married to Gordon Parks (http://www.nndb.com/people/248/000027167/) and later married Milt Moskowitz (http://www.mediatrainingworldwide.com/press03-03-05.html), (http://www.greatplacetowork-conference.com/en/259_milton_moskowitz_.htm). Not sure where they live, though her daughter Leslie Parks is a chef who lives in Brooklyn (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/18/fashion/weddings/18UNIONS.html).

    6. I too love this art work. I would love to use it as wall paper.
      I found this in the companion book to the Ken Burns Jazz.
      If anyone finds it in its entire print let us know.

    7. Hi,

      I was researching a map in my husband’s collection, one that I believe is the first one published of Campbell’s Night-Club Map of Harlem. It is folded in the middle, as is the one in your picture, but has a little wider white margins, with the name of the magazine in the top margin. It was published in 1932, not in “Esquire,” as some references I came across indicated (Esquire not beginning publication until the following year), but instead in “Manhattan” Magazine. There seems to be a dearth of information concerning this magazine, as well as the first publication of the Harlem Night-Club map, so I would appreciate learning anything I can about this.

      Thank you.

    8. I’ve been conducting some research on the map as well, and it’s surprising how widespread the Esquire magazine misconception is.

      Also, I’ve found information on Manhattan Magazine surprisingly hard to come by, though haven’t dug very deep yet.

      Joan, is there anything on the version of the map you have to indicate the month or year of publication?

    9. Trivia: this map was used as the endpapers for Cab Calloway’s autobiography.

    10. I am Elwood in the Bluespatrol Show Band .The map is published on the inside cover of Cab Calloways authobiography titled Of Minnie The Moocher & Me . It is complete with borders. elwoodnotjake@optoline.net .Our website is http://www.bluespatrol.com PAT/440 AKA ELWOOD .

    11. Great find, Mike! I love it!

    12. It it was in a Smithsonian exhibition, there’s a very good chance it could be in the images collection at the library of congress. once you find it, ordering prints is a fairly easy matter.

    13. Yeah I already checked with the LOC and they do not have the image. What’s more, I want to be as legit as possible with this and get permission from the copyright holder before printing anything.

    14. Desperately want a print of this…would love to have an update if one is located. :)

    15. [...] via, source [...]

    16. I’m still working on it and I am closer than ever; no guarantees of course but stay tuned!

    17. [...] Thibault posts a cartoon map of Harlem hot spots created in 1932 by Esquire cartoonist and Cuties creator E. Simms Campbell. Never heard of E. [...]

    18. Good luck with the research. I would love to have a copy too.

    19. If you make a poster of the complete map, please let me know as I would love to buy a cupy or two or even three. Thanks

    20. I absolutely LOVE this map, so if anyone does find a complete copy that can be used I would really like to know about it!

    21. [...] Mike Lynch and Mike Thibault, a 1932 era nightclub map of Harlem by E. Simms Campbell, an African American cartoonist known for [...]

    22. Though I’m certain Mr. Campbell’s work may have appeared in Ebony Magazine on ocassion, the long-term publication of which he was associated was Esquire Magazine. In fact when a vintage paper dealer directed my attention to his work and informed me that he was an African American it came as a surprise when viewing the body of his “gentlemen” cartoons for Esquire.

    23. [...] A Nightclub Map of Harlem @ Mike Thibault [...]

    24. Just a bit of information that may relate to some people’s comments/questions — I was told that the original printing of this map (and, I believe, the whole Manhattan Magazine issue in which it was printed) is going to be included in the Swann Galleries auction of “Printed & Manuscript Black Americana” coming up this February or March. I assume that the map’s write-up for that auction will be based on professional research and therefore just the catalog description will probably answer some of the questions about this map, and the results of the auction will undoubtedly address the issue of its value.

    25. I saw this map in a New Jersey Public Television documentary on Willie “The Lion” Smith that I rented from Netflix. I would love to have a copy.

    26. Hi Mike

      I hope you can solve this puzzle. In one version of the song “Puttin on the Ritz” the words go “Angle down to pontabel” or “angle down to pontabel street” or they sound like that. Have you any idea what pontabel is. Does the “angle down” refer to St Nicholas Avenue.

      Also where about on Lenox Avenue did people parade on Thursday evenings?


    27. It’s not the map above, but here’s another website that might be of interest, that sells actual Harlem maps:

    28. Hi Harvey,

      I don’t know exactly where on Lenox they would parade. As for the lyrics, I think the verse goes like this:
      Spangled gowns upon the bevee of high browns
      From down the levee
      All misfits
      Puttin’ on the Ritz

      “Spangled gowns upon the bevee” does sound like “Angle down to Pontabel”. That’s a pretty good misheard lyric :)

    29. Just an update that the Nightclub Map of Harlem sold at the Swann Galleries Auction on March 10th 2011 for $16,800….


    30. Oh, and here’s the item description and *a full view of the entire map*!


    31. Yes, I saw that! It’s actually not the original map, but the original publication of the map in Manhattan Magazine. Interesting that there is more text below the image… I can’t make out what it says!

    32. Stephen Robertson

      I have a post analyzing some of the details of this map: http://digitalharlemblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/numbers-on-harlems-streets/

    33. Excellent post, Stephen! I was wondering if that was what they were referring to.

    34. [...] source: Thank you! [...]

    35. Any progress in locating a copy of this map? It seems as if it were a popular print, weird that a few copies wouldn’t be floating around. I wonder how many of the original maps are in people’s attics and garages, or in the bottom of boxes. I’d love to hear how much an original would sell for! Please keep us appraised of your progress. Thank you for your dedication!

    36. Hi Amy!

      I’m actually in active talks with the copyright holder to make a fine art print of the map. It’s not a matter of finding a printed copy of the map because making a reproduction of a reproduction would yield less than stellar results. We’re trying to locate the original map and go from there. Thanks very much for your interest, and I’ll post here if/when I am successful!

    37. I would also love to get a print of this map when available!! Thank you for your efforts.

    38. Would also love a copy for my husband…watching American Masters Cab Calloway as I am writing this…

    39. Whew! You REALLY want to print this map for us all, Mike, thank you! I would suggest collecting names here for a emailing list when it is available, because you know we all want a copy.

      You can get a free signup form at MailChimp
      I’ve had very good success with their free option (No, I don’t work there).

      Put me on the contact list. We appreciate all your hard work.

    40. Count me as one who would love to have a poster of this fabulous map. Just let me know when it’s available and I will leap into action.
      Katy Raddatz

    41. Mike

      Shane Vogel at Indiana reproduced a cropped version of the map in his book The Scene of Harlem Cabaret. He got permission from Elizabeth Campbell Moskowitz, ESC’s daughter, but I don’t think she has the original or he wouldn’t have reproduced the cropped version. The original would have been part of the effects of Cab Calloway as ESC made a gift of it to him and it hung in his office (as you can see from a photo reproducd in CC’s autobiography) so it may still be in possession of Calloway’s estate.

      Hope this helps.

    42. Add one more to the number. I would love a copy of this map. Please let me know when/if they come available.

    43. Mike – great find indeed! Please contact me if you find a way to make a print/poster of this map. It’s awesome!

    44. Susan E. Boulton

      I would also like a copy of this map, if ever you are able to get a reproduction made. Thank you

    45. Put me down for a map. Stay in touch.

    46. As you might suspect from my posting on this blog, I, too, would LOVE a copy of this full map! I love seeing all the research and love for lost pieces of art such as this. Thank yo Mike and everyone else who has posed on this blog.

    47. Stephen Tucker

      Add me to the list of poster-purchasers!

    48. Oh man, would love to have a copy if you ever succeed in making prints. Was watching a PBS American Masters on Cab Calloway and this was referenced. I now have a copy of his autobiography and yep, there’s the map. Just recently wrote a song celebrating the music and musicians of Harlem in coincidentally, 1932, an amazing era in American musical history. Thanks for your efforts and good luck!

    49. Man, this thread is so awesome! I love how so many dedicated people are contributing to the project, and Im so excited to se how it ends. I would absolutely love a poster, and would also love to sell them in my business for scandinavian turists in Harlem if possible! Keep up the great work! – Cristine

    50. Would love to have a copy as well. Thanks for your efforts.

    51. Daniel Julivert

      Thanks for the effort in locating the original of this map, and trying to get legal rights for making high-quality prints. I would indeed be interested in purchasing a copy if you ever manage to secure the rights and the original. My e-mail is ghoulwiz@gmail.com just in case you keep a list of people who are interested, for letting us know when/if it’s available. Great work there!

    52. I’d love a copy of this map too! Was just walking around this exact area the other day, looking for Connie’s Inn, etc. If you’re keeping a list of people who would like to get a copy when it becomes available, please add me to that list. Best of luck with your efforts to find the original, and thanks for doing this!

    53. Jennifer Callowich

      Appreciate your efforts! I too, would love to purchase a print of the map. Put me down! Good luck!

    54. Richard Spitzer, MD

      Fantastic map.

      What progress has been made in having it reproduced since last posts a few months back?

      Would (also) love to buy a copy.

      Rich Spitzer

    55. Helmut schwarzer

      Please put me down for a copy of the map if and when….

      Great Blog!!

    56. Stumbled across this…


      Last I heard, admittedly a while back, there were legal hurdles to jump before anything could be distributed. Did someone clear them, or is this not a legal reproduction?

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