Club Harlem Piano

The piano is a reminder that even during the Great Depression, Detroiters could still dance the night away


Published:

Operating from just 1934-35, Club Harlem was short-lived. Its memory is a fleeting hallmark of Paradise Valley, the business hub and entertainment center of what was known as Black Bottom. 

The bustling nightlife in Paradise Valley was a primary source of income for residents, who were hit especially hard when the Great Depression affected auto factories. 

Those seeking a glitzy escape headed to Paradise. In its heyday, the scene drew legends like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. Club Harlem was near the corner of Vernor and Brush. Jewish businessman Morris Wasserman led the establishment, but after it closed, the family of former manager Allen Warbler saved the piano. 

Today, the piano serves as a relic of a historic community that thrived on the idyllic night out. Fittingly, the instrument once had a night-on-the-town costume of its own. Club-goers of the past know this piano best as the beauty backed by a black velvet coat adorned with large glittery musical notes.


Club Harlem artifacts are from collections of The Henry Ford; 2900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 313-982-6100; thehenryford.org
Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

An Hour With... Kym Worthy

Wayne County Prosecutor

Did Kwame Kilpatrick Actually Help Detroit?

Disgraced and out of appeals, Detroit former mayor will still be sitting in a federal prison on New Year’s Day 2037. But could his corruption have, in an odd way, actually improved the city?

The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Prophet Jones

Before a sex scandal brought him down, the 'Messiah in Mink' was one of the more prominent black celebrity preachers of midcentury America

Culinary Program at Michigan Prison Nourishes Raw Talent

Prisoners learn more than the technical skills needed to be a cook — they learn what it takes to be a chef

Who Killed Barry Crane?

In 1985, the Detroit native's body was found at his California townhouse. Despite the discovery of new DNA evidence no one has pinned down who killed the man known as the Babe Ruth of bridge and why.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Thirty Days Dry
    Short-lived adventures in not drinking Michigan wine
  2. Top Chiropractors 2017
  3. Lower-Alcohol Level Brews Show Off Fine Art of ‘Session’ Beers
    Examining craft beer's low alcohol trend
  4. Metro Detroit Weddings Luxury Bridal Show
    On February 23, local brides and grooms joined Metro Detroit Weddings for a Luxury Bridal Show at...