Tag Archives: new york culture

The Magic of Broadway

By Jack Stanley
Tour Guide at Uncle Sam’s New York Tours

Did you ever wonder how it all got there?  How Broadway became Broadway? So often we hear all kinds of tales of this and that about Broadway, but what about the Broadway of the past? There are many stories and we will just touch of a few of them here.

You have to remember that where Broadway was years ago was in pretty close range to what was called the Tenderloin District. If you have never heard of it, it is long gone. But this was where you went in 1890 to do what polite society cared not to know. It was an area of drugs, prostitution, gambling, liquor and white slavery. It was the area were vice was the major component.

All of this changed as time when on, and by the end of the 19th century it was starting to move to another location.  In the late 1890’s Oscar Hammerstein the first invested in the area called Long acre Square. He built a few theaters, and later an opera house.

By 1914 the place was home to nearly 30 theaters, opera houses, and of course the New York Times. In fact by 1905 the area would be called Times Square in honor of that company.

This was the place people like George M Cohan, Enrico Caruso, David Balasco, Al Jolson, Maude Adams, The Barrymores, and the first lady of theater Helen Hayes called home.

Today Broadway is alive with not only new and exciting shows, but rings true to it’s historic past. Everywhere you can find it, but it is often not too easy to see. That is why guided tours are so useful.

Guided tours are like a road map for history. It tells you where to look and what to know. So you don’t get lost in it all.

How do you find out information about these wonderful days of the past? There is a place you can count on. One that is taking the city by storm. Uncle Sam’s New York is such a company. The walking tours this company provides are often given by people who not only know the history, but have done theater as well.

That is called having the best of both worlds.

Perhaps one of the greatest entertainers on Broadway was Al Jolson. His comment was when ever he would come on stage  “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”  Look at Uncles Sam’s New York and take a walk on the great white way, and you will see all you have been missing.

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From Limelight and Tunnel to Marquee and M2: The Ever-Changing Landscape of NYC Clubs

Pictured: The “Club Kids” crowd outside of the original Limelight.

by Sam Nicholson

Today’s New York City mega-clubs such as M2, Marquee, and Pacha usually leave a good impressions on their guests. Out-of-towners, the “bridge-and-tunnel” crowd, and tourists might not be used to the huge crowd and vibrant atmosphere. However, after some time of partying in the city, a person is bound to run into someone nostalgic for the old nightclub scene of the city. These people usually look at the new nightclubs with disappointment and long for the old days of clubs such as Limelight and Tunnel.

From an outsider’s perspective, the clubs of today and the clubs of twenty years ago aren’t so different. Bottle service originated at Tunnel Nightclub ,a large club with several floors once located in Chelsea between 27th and 28th street. The dance floor was noted for having several dancing cages throughout the floor. Tunnel also had a notoriously loud soundsystem, much like M2 nightclub today. Tunnel also had many stars of the hiphop community host parties—much like M2 does on a nearly weekly basis. Tunnel fell to its inevitable demise in 2001; it had been cited for underage drinking, had often dangerous overcrowding, and was a frequent target of police raids. As of May 2010, M2 has been closed due to smoking violations. It is said that history repeats itself, and this is certainly true in the case of NYC nightclubs.

Former clubbers have been especially distraught lately, as the space of the once-popular nightclub Limelight has been turned into a retail space. The mall pays tribute to the club with its name, “The Limelight Marketplace”. It is needless to say that former Limelight lovers were not exactly thrilled with this news. Many questioned if there would ever be any clubs like it in Manhattan ever again. These people aren’t willing to admit that the mega clubs of today and two decades aren’t that different. There are the same loud soundsystems, police raids, and wild fashion.

While the clubbers of yesteryear mourn the diversity of the old clubs, they don’t realize that NYC still has one of the most eccentric nightlife scenes in the world. There are few other American cities where drag queens, star athletes, models, and Wall Street types mix freely. All New Yorkers should for grateful for our diversity and strive to keep the scene alive.

http://www.unclesamsnewyork.com

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Filed under History, Samantha Nicholson