1943 - 1960

The Cotton Club

A black and white photo shows the Cotton Club on the street it once stood on. Cars are driving by.
Democrat and Chronicle Staff Photo, 6/25/1957
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From its shared name to its location in what its Seventh Ward citizens dubbed “Little Harlem,” Rochester’s Cotton Club modeled much of its establishment after its New York City counterpart. Though it didn’t boast the latter’s famed list of visitors such as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Cab Calloway, the Club’s opening in 1943 effectively helped establish Rochester’s up-and-coming jazz scene. One such contributor was house band drummer Eddie Israel, whose own rap sheet included playing alongside Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald. Despite its success in the mid-forties and fifties, a 1958 City decision subjected the Club and 441 other nearby parcels of land to urban renewal, and by 1962, “the focus of Little Harlem” was replaced by Chatham Gardens housing complex.

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