On Saturday, October 23, from noon-4 pm, Tin Pan Alley Day will be celebrated with a free public concert in the Flatiron District honoring the official New York City landmark designation, in 2019, of the block of 28th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue as the birthplace of American Popular Music (including such iconic songs as “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “God Bless America”) in the late 19th and early 20th century. Home to five intact Tin Pan Alley landmark buildings at 47-55 West 28th Street (built from 1839-59), the historic site will officially become part of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District in 2022, following the New York City Council’s vote in July 2021 to approve the expansion of the BID’s boundaries.
Named to describe the audible racket of piano music that made 28th Street sound “like a tin pan alley,” the block was home to the most significant concentration of sheet music publishers in New York City at the turn of the 20th century – firms responsible for revolutionizing the industry’s practices for the creation, promotion, and consumption of popular music as we know it today, by marketing sheet music to the public. Their “song plugging” effectively spread the blues, Broadway, jazz, ragtime, Latin rhythms, and more throughout the world.
In addition to honoring the landmark street, the event will launch the Tin Pan Alley American Popular Music Project, a new non-profit organization dedicated to the commemoration and continuation of the legacy by highlighting the contributions of Eastern European Jewish immigrant and African American composers, performers, and sheet music publishers who worked there, including Irving Berlin, Williams & Walker, George Gershwin, J. Rosamond Johnson, George M. Cohan, and James Reese Europe, among many others. That momentous history will be addressed on Tin Pan Alley Day in remarks by such noted authorities as author Ken Bloom, Columbia University historic preservation professor Andrew Dolkart, and Harlem historian John Reddick.
The event, intended to connect people with the power of music as an essential element of NYC and American cultural history, will also feature more than two dozen leading performers of Tin Pan Alley music and the Great American Songbook. The star-studded line-up includes appearances by Danny Bacher, Aaron Lee Battle, Ken Bloom, Klea Blackhurst, Jim Brochu, Richard Carlin, Eric Comstock, Natalie Douglas, Cassidy Ewert, Willy Falk, DeWitt Fleming Jr., Eric Yves Garcia, Anita Gillette, Vince Giordano, Robert Lamont, Gabrielle Lee, Larry Marshall, Sanborn McGraw, Jill O’Hara, Jeannie Otis, Jennifer Poroye, Steve Ross, Billy Stritch, TADA! Youth Theater Ensemble, Tony Waag & The American Tap Dance Foundation Ensemble, and Terry Waldo & The Gotham City Band, along with special guest of honor the marvelous Marilyn Maye.
Tin Pan Alley Day runs from 12-4 pm, on Saturday, October 23, 2021 (rain date Sunday, October 24), at the Flatiron North Plaza on 23rd Street and Broadway, NYC. The event is free and open to the public, but you can register here for updates and to make a voluntary donation, and you can watch a video on the colorful history of Tin Pan Alley below: