Tin Pan Alley

STATUS In Review

DATE: c. 1852-1853

STYLE: Italianate

Tin Pan Alley (West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) was where music publishers, composers and songwriters worked from about 1885 to roughly the 1950’s. Many notable people found work at Tin Pan Alley including George and Ira Gershwin, Harry Warren, Vincent Youmans, Al Sherman, Irving Berlin, Dorothy Fields, Gussie Lord Davis, and many more.

On March 12, 2019 the Landmarks Preservation Commission Calendared five buildings on Tin Pan Alley, 47, 49, 51, 53 and 55 West 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Ave.

Residential Origins

The buildings that still exist on the North Side of the Street, nos. 41-51, were built c. 1852-1853, a very early date for Italianate style rowhouses in New York (Litchfield Villa which helped popularize the Italianate style in New York was completed in 1854).

One early resident of the block  is believed to be William Gardiner Jones (1784-1870) and his wife Cornelia (Herring) Jones (1785-1866).  The Jones were from prominent  18th-century New York families (Jones Street in Greenwich Village is named after their immediate family). They are believed to have lived at 49-51 West 28th street with their son, William W. Jones, MD (1813-1891) until their deaths.

The Music and Entertainment Industry Takes Over

The first music publisher to move to the block was M. Witmark and Sons, who moved uptown from 14th Street to 49-51 West 28th Street in 1893, becoming the first publisher to set up shop in the block.

For a time during the 1890’s, Thomas Edison’s New York office for moving pictures was located at number 43.  It has been reported that Edison shot early films on the roof.  In addition to the American Mutoscope studio on 13th and Broadway, this would have been one of the first places in New York City used for the shooting of motion pictures.

By 1900, Twenty-eighth Street knew the largest concentration of popular-music publishers any single street had known up to that time, 14th Street not excluded.

Music publishers occupied buildings on both sides of West 28th Street, and some could be found in offices around the corner on Broadway, or just west of Sixth Avenue.  At one time or another, between 1893 and 1910, the following publishers were located on the Alley (note that several moved from one address to another). The source for these addresses is David A. Jasen’s  Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song (Taylor & Francis, 2003) as well as copies of covers of sheet music on file at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, in the “Brill Building” research file.

For more information please see our post A Brief-ish History of Tin Pan Alley

View our Cultural Landmarks video on Tin Pan Alley


STATUS In Review

This building / neighborhood / site is in the process of becoming a New York City Landmark.

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