History of the Near East Side

Great music once saturated the Near East Side every weekend. Jumpin’ jam sessions filled the Regal, the Macon, the Yacht Club, the Pythian Theater and the 5-0 Deuce. Musicians from near and far tested their talents, leading scores of people down Mt. Vernon Avenue and across Long Street. On the Million Dollar Block you could hear songs playing like Midnight Train.

Visual artists captured the spirit of locations such as the Lincoln Theater, the Cameo, Spicer’s and Carl Brown’s. Every once in a while you would witness the annual parade. When the revelry quieted or the gig was over, residents retired to their homes while out-of-towners settled in at the Litchford, the Macon or the St. Clair Hotel- all of which were black-owned hotels that welcomed them warmly.

From the 1940’s to the 1960’s, artistic expression thrived along Mt. Vernon Avenue and East Long Street. The East Side jam sessions were universities where young musicians learned from their elders. Seasoned and emerging artists vividly depicted and documented the people, places and pulse of the neighborhood. It was a place known as the Cradle of Jazz.

This is just a glimpse of our history.

This cultural moment brought to you by:
The Columbus Urban League, Taste of Mt. Vernon Magazine, Making a Difference, Inc., Mayo’s Printing and Neighborhood House, Inc.

WOSU King-Lincoln District Documentary:
This year WOSU Presents Columbus Neighborhoods aired a full-length documentary about the King-Lincoln District here on the Near East Side. Press play to watch the full video (56:46)!




Take a few moments to browse our collection of historical Near East Side photos! Click on the photos to enlarge.

Photos courtesy of Columbus Metropolitan Library Digital Collections.

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