A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 01, 2022
Melody Lane (West 28th Street, also called “Tin Pan Alley")

"Melody Lane” was another name for what is now called “Tin Pan Alley,” where the song publishers assembled on West 28th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Melody Lane got its name from the popular song “The Songbird of Melody Lane,” with music by Gus Edwards (1878-1945) and lyrics by Alfred Bryan (1871-1958). The song was featured in the musical Mr. Blue Beard that opened at the Knickerbocker Theatre (1396 Broadway and West 38th Street) on January 21, 1903. Melody Lane was also popularized by the songs “Down in Melody Lane” (1911) and “Take Me Back to Melody Lane” (1915), and the movie Melody Lane (1929).

Melody Lane/Tin Pan Alley moved from West 28th Street by the 1920s. Although “Tin Pan Alley” is still used, the name “Melody Lane” is mostly of historical interest today. “Harmony Row” and “Ragtime Rialto” are other historical names for the area.


Wikipedia: Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley was a collection of music publishers and songwriters in New York City which dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It originally referred to a specific place: West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the Flower District of Manhattan; a plaque (see below) on the sidewalk on 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth commemorates it. In 2019, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission took up the question of preserving five buildings on the north side of the street as a Tin Pan Alley Historic District. The agency designated five buildings (47–55 West 28th Street) individual landmarks on December 10, 2019, after a concerted effort by the “Save Tin Pan Alley” initiative of the 29th Street Neighborhood Association.

Wikipedia: Alfred Bryan
Alfred Bryan (September 15, 1871 – April 1, 1958) was a Canadian lyricist.

Bryan was born in Brantford, Ontario. He worked as an arranger in New York and wrote lyrics for many Broadway shows in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In the 1920s he moved to Hollywood to write lyrics for screen musicals.

Wikipedia: Gus Edwards (vaudeville)
Gustave Edwards (18 August 1878 – 7 November 1945) was an American songwriter and vaudevillian. He also organised his own theatre companies and was a music publisher.

OCLC WorldCat record
The songbird of melody lane
Author: Gus Edwards; Alfred Bryan
Publisher: New York : F.A. Mills, ©1902.
Edition/Format: Musical score : English

IBDB (Internet Broadway Database)
Mr. Bluebeard
Theatres Knickerbocker Theatre
(Jan 21, 1903 - May 16, 1903)
Description A musical in three acts
Setting Bagdad, Blue Beard’s Yacht, the Isle of Ferns, the Land of Ferns, the Castle, the Chamber of Curiosities, the home of the Old Woman who lived in a Shoe, Blue Beard’s Palace, and the Fairy Palace

Newspapers.com
22 January 1903, The World (New York, NY), “Mr. Blue Beard a Dazzling Hit,” pg. 9, col. 1:
There are also some sprouts—little young things who first come out as puffy-stomached frogs, and later score the popular hit of the piece as hopelessly impossible “tough” girls in a sort of “Sunshine-of-Paradise-Alley” song, called “The Songbird of Melody Lane.” They happily prove that all the talented children of the stage are not in “The Little Princess.”

There are slathers of other songs, but none that “goes” like this one, though all are more or less “catchy.”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
28 March 1903, The Morning Telegraph (New York, NY), “Miss Loftus in Recital,” pg. 7, col. 4:
“In Japan,” in the parlance of Melody Lane, is “a sure song hit.”

Newspapers.com
10 May 1903, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, pt. 4, pg. 9, col. 2:
“TIN PAN ALLEY?” WHY IT’S THE PLACE
WHERE THE POPULAR SONGS COME FROM
(...)
Tin Pan Alley is that part of Twenty-eighth street that lies between Broadway and Sixth avenue. Here center the song-publishing houses of New York.
(...)
Now, “Tin Pan Alley” is considered a term of reproach by the Tin Pan Alleyites. They prefer to designate it as “Melody Lane.” But this is a poetic fancy that those who go down that way to hear the “new, big, screaming hits” do not indulge in.

OCLC WorldCat record
Library of Congress (sheet music)
Down in Melody Lane
Author: Lou Sievers; Wm A Downs; Brotts Crews Studios,
Publisher: Chicago : Harold Rossiter Music Company, [1911] ©1911
Edition/Format: Musical score : English

Newspapers.com
30 March 1912, The Morning News (Wilmington, DE), “Popular Songs Pay Their Composers Well,” pg. 14, col. 2:
From a few meagre lofts on Twenty-eighth street, the former “Melody Lane,” it has, under the guidance of business men, become a substantial foundation for the building of beautiful buildings in one of the richest realty sections of the city.

OCLC WorldCat record
Take me back to Melody Lane.
Author: David Reed
Publisher: New York ... London : M. Witmark & Sons, ©1915.
Edition/Format: Musical score : English

Newspapers.com
25 July 1915, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), sec. 4, pg. 5, col. 6:
Popular Song Business
Is Slightly “On the Blink”
Cries of Distress Heard From Melody Lane Or
Tin Pan Alley—Causes of Sorrow.

MELODY LANE, or Tin Pan alley, whichever you wish to call it, is anything but happy these days.

Newspapers.com
30 July 1915, Tacoma (WA) Daily News, pg. 6, col. 1:
WOE IN MELODY LANE.
From Melody Lane, the sheet music publishing center of America, in New York, comes a cry of distress. That home of harmony is torn of discord. Several of the prominent publishers, it is reported, are facing bankruptcy.

Newspapers.com
28 July 1918, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Summer Shows for the Stay-at-Homes,” Feature Section, pg. 11, col. 1:
Munford and Thompson describe themselves as “the boys from Melody Lane,” which it is hoped is not merely a euphemism for “Tin-Pan Alley.”

Newspapers.com
18 May 1925, Richmond (IN) Palladium and Sun-Telegram, “New York Day by Day” by O. O. McIntyre, pg. 6, col. 4:
Melody Lane is in the doldrums. The lowest peak of financial returns for the song writer has set in.

Newspapers.com
30 January 1928, Pittwburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Pittsburghesque” by Charles V. Danver, pg. 6, col. 6:
“‘Tin Pan Alley’ got its name on Twenty-Eighth street, About 25 years ago all the music publishers were located on this street and they did every thing imaginable to attract attention, either by having a singer ballyhooing from the window or having a phonograph pounding away on their particular songs.

“That’s where the name, ‘Tin Pan Alley,’ came from. Later on a song writer by the name of Alfred Bryan wrote a song entitled ‘The Song Bird of Melody Lane,’ and for a long time afterward the name of ‘Tin Pan Alley’ was forgotten and instead it was called ‘Melody Lane.’”

IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)
Melody Lane
1929 Passed 1h 16m
A songwriter leaves his chorus girl sweetheart to join the US Army in WWI. In France he falls in love with French singer Madelon. He is crippled in action. Back in the States, his girl friend there leaves him. But Madelon can’t forget him and comes to the USA to work there as singer. Per chance she meets the songwriter, and he is cured. Singing one of his love songs, he knows that he has found the right girl.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Tuesday, February 01, 2022 • Permalink