Harlem Renaissance Hot Spots (1933)
Cartoon guide to Harlem on a Friday night
Elmer Simms Campbell’s pictorial night-club map showing Harlem’s hotspots for entertainment, dining, and drinking appeared as a centerfold in the January 18, 1933, edition of the short-lived weekly Manhattan Magazine. His work was an important contribution to Harlem’s cultural renaissance—it serves as a time capsule—the itinerary and guide of a typical Friday night at the peak of the Harlem Renaissance.
He captures the intensity of the scene: within a few blocks of each other he has cartooned Cab Calloway singing at the Cotton Club, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson doing his step dance at the Lafayette Theater – "Friday night is the Midnight show, Most Negro revues begin and end here." Lissome "cafe au lait girls" dance at Small's Paradise. Outside, doormen welcome White swells in top hats, while an elegant Black couple in evening dress dance "the Bump"?
It appeared on pages 7 to 10 in Volume One, Number One of Manhattan—Weekly for Wakeful New Yorkers. January 18, 1933. It appeared again nine months later in Esquire. E. Simms Campbell, Cartographer and Publisher. “A Night-club Map of Harlem” in Manhattan—Weekly for Wakeful New Yorkers. (New York: Dell Publishing Company, Inc. 1932). Geography and Map Division.
Elmer Simms Campbell (1906–71) was an illustrator and the first Black American to be nationally syndicated with his cartoon Cuties.
Campbell was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906. He moved to Chicago at the age of six shortly after his father died. As a child in Chicago, his mother taught him to draw with watercolors. By the time he was a teenager, Campbell was already a cartoonist for E-Weekly, the Englewood High School newspaper, and was a nationally recognized cartoonist. After high school, he attended classes at the Chicago Art Institute while working as a waiter in a railroad dining-car. It was while serving tables that he refined his art—his skills and technique of creating caricatures—his secret was to draw people as they truly appeared.
Campbell rose to art editor for Esquire, and was the creator of Esky, the magazine’s mascot. He produced ads for major magazines and entertainment companies all over the United States. His career spanned over 30 years and he enjoyed great commercial success as an illustrator for publications such as Esquire, the New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, and Playboy. He was recognized posthumously and inducted into the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame. And, as duly noted by Cab Calloway in his memoir, Of Minnie the Moocher and Me:
No one knew [Harlem] better than my friend E. Simms Campbell.
~ From Mapping “Points of Interest underneath the Harlem Moon” by Carissa Pastuch (This is a great article - with images of the Harlem jazz greats)
Title: A night-club map of Harlem
Creator: Campbell, E. Simms (Elmer Simms), 1906-1971, cartographer..
Created / Published: New York, N.Y. : Dell Publishing Company, Inc.
Library of Congress: 2016585261
Put me in the way back machine. I want to listen to Cab Calloway sing and watch lissome cafe au lait girls dance the night away.
"What happens to a dream deferred?"