Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. It is bursting with music, theater and dance, and it looks marvelous, thanks to millions in renovations and upgrades — an appropriate state for this iconic American cultural institution.
At a time when “downtown” white venues were off limits to blacks, the Apollo certified success for African-American performers. And it has been at the forefront of the latest trends in the black community.
Here’s some wonderful vintage Apollo photos published on the theater’s 80th anniversary in 2014 by the very cool site, Untapped Cities.
The theater is thriving and vibrant and looks wonderful, thanks to millions in renovations. It continues to lure superstars from Jay-Z to Paul McCartney, and the Apollo was recently the place President Obama serenaded Al Green with his own lyrics.
From its inception 80 years ago this Sunday, the Apollo Theater probably exerted a greater influence on popular culture than any other entertainment venue in the world. Throughout the years the Apollo, and the thousands of great entertainers who have performed there, have led the way in the presentation of swing, bebop, rhythm and blues, modern jazz, commercially presented gospel, soul, funk and hip-hop. The Apollo also introduced and showcased the latest in dance and comedy. There has never been another cultural institution that has been so influential in so many different fields for so many years.
In every way the Apollo Theater was a vital part of the Harlem community. Since 125th Street was Harlem’s main commercial artery, the merchants greatly depended on the Apollo to draw crowds to the street and generate traffic in their stores. A hot show at the Apollo meant money in the bank for everyone on 125th Street.