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Block Party

Zero Mostel, Emma Goldman, and George Gershwin all worked on the stretch of Manhattan’s West 28th Street once known as Tin Pan Alley. Now it’s Tablet Magazine’s home, too, so let’s explore the neighborhood.

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Tin Pan Alley in 1905 and today.(Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

Tablet Magazine recently moved its offices to a stretch of West 28th Street in Manhattan. The new digs are in an auspicious location—the block that was once Tin Pan Alley, the historic district where George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and many others went to play piano and peddle songs to music publishers.

As the 20th century reached its midpoint, tunesmiths moved elsewhere. (The Brill Building, famously home to later generations of songwriters, is just north of Times Square.) Old buildings came down while new ones went up, and our portion of West 28th is now a bustling commercial hodge-podge bookended by the flower district to the west and the perfume district to the east. To learn more about our new neighborhood—where Emma Goldman founded her anarchist magazine, too, and Zero Mostel had a painting studio—Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry spoke to Jim Mackin, a New York City historian and tour guide, about West 28th Street, how specialized commercial districts come into being, and Irving Berlin’s first big hit. [Running time: 16:17.] 

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Can I simply say what a relief to search out somebody who really knows what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know how one can bring a problem to mild and make it important. Extra people have to learn this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant believe youre not more common since you undoubtedly have the gift.

A Cassel says:

Sara, I love your interviews and this one was great, but I can’t believe you didn’t know about Zero Mostel and his painting. In this show http://www.jewishhumorcentral.com/2009/11/in-zero-hour-jim-brochu-is-zero-mostel_22.html which ran off-Broadway for several months last year, Jim Brochu gave a dead-on portrayal of Mostel, telling the audience that he never considered himself a comic, but rather a painter who acted in comedies. You should get Brochu on sometime and do a podcast on Mostel; he was a pretty amazing guy who wrestled with issues of Jewishness and assimilation as much as any literary figure from that era.

Dear Tablet —

I was thrilled to find this story, and your magazine. You may already know all about it, but I wanted to say that the original Tin Pan Alley is under increasing threat from developers, and the classic 1850s buildings may soon be replaced by 50 stories of anonymous glass hotels.

The destruction has already started happening in the Flower market west of 6th Avenue, and if anyone wants to help preserve the creative, multi-cultural legacy of Tin Pan Alley, please join our efforts to get NYC landmark protection for this fascinating part of the city.

http://landmarktinpanalley.org/

Cheers –

Berdachenyc says:

How do we listen to the above episode? Doesnt seem to be any actualy link….(?)

Berdachenyc says:

I cannot seem to find any way to actualy listen to this episode….pleased advise

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Block Party

Zero Mostel, Emma Goldman, and George Gershwin all worked on the stretch of Manhattan’s West 28th Street once known as Tin Pan Alley. Now it’s Tablet Magazine’s home, too, so let’s explore the neighborhood.

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