Vox Tablet

Block Party

Zero Mostel, Emma Goldman, and George Gershwin all worked on the stretch of Manhattan’s West 28th Street once known as Tin Pan Alley. Now it’s Tablet Magazine’s home, too, so let’s explore the neighborhood.

June 13, 2011
Tin Pan Alley in 1905 and today.(Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

Tin Pan Alley in 1905 and today.(Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

Tablet Magazine recently moved its offices to a stretch of West 28th Street in Manhattan. The new digs are in an auspicious location—the block that was once Tin Pan Alley, the historic district where George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and many others went to play piano and peddle songs to music publishers.

As the 20th century reached its midpoint, tunesmiths moved elsewhere. (The Brill Building, famously home to later generations of songwriters, is just north of Times Square.) Old buildings came down while new ones went up, and our portion of West 28th is now a bustling commercial hodge-podge bookended by the flower district to the west and the perfume district to the east. To learn more about our new neighborhood—where Emma Goldman founded her anarchist magazine, too, and Zero Mostel had a painting studio—Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry spoke to Jim Mackin, a New York City historian and tour guide, about West 28th Street, how specialized commercial districts come into being, and Irving Berlin’s first big hit. [Running time: 16:17.]

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Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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