Little Harlem Hotel and Nightclub
496 Michigan Avenue
This collage illustrates the multiple firsts embodied by this project on Buffalo’s East Side. Commissioned as an ice cream parlor around 1910 by one of the city’s first Black businesswomen, Anne Montgomery, it was quickly transformed in the 1920s into a billiard room and a local night club and hotel by 1934. In its early days, the Little Harlem Hotel became a major showcase for aspiring new stars during an era when it was difficult for African Americans to obtain jobs in their professions elsewhere. The roster of stars included both black and white performers such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Bing Crosby, Vincent Lopez, Cab Calloway, and Dinah Washington, among the more popular names who performed at or visited the hotel and club. Local historians have noted this venue as one of the few places welcoming to queer Black patrons at a time when many were forced to remain closeted. An image of a contemporary protester (standing outside MT Pockets on Hertel Avenue, a recent alt-right gathering space in the city) has been including in this image to reference the multiple forms of Black protest culture that emerged from this site throughout its history.