Club Harlem Piano

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


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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
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