Drop me off in Harlem

harlem600.jpgFrank Jacobs' great Strange Maps blog turns up a real treasure this week: "A Night-Club Map of Harlem," drawn ca. 1932 by cartoonist Elmer Simms Campbell. The map hits all the high spots, metaphorically (The Cotton Club, Small's Paradise, The Savoy) and literally (131st and Lenox, where a figure helpfully identifies himself as "th' Reefer man"). The only major omission, a caption says, "is the location of the various speakeasies but since there about 500 of them you won't have much trouble." The thing bristles with helpful information (Tillie's "specializes in fried chicken — and it's really good!") and bursts with life — all over the map, figures furtively ask about the day's number, and at 142nd and Lenox, a white-tuxedoed Cab Calloway rises toward the heavens, wailing an ecstatic "Hi-De-Ho." If Harlem was half as jumping in 1932 as Campbell makes it seem, every legend about uptown in its heyday must be true.