Saturday, July 12, 2008

New York Songlines

My friend, Gabi, pointed me to a fascinating and well laid-out website called "New York Songlines." (The title is based upon the method aboriginals found their way around the outback, by memorizing songs based upon land features.)

The website doesn't feature songs, but what it does do is look at each block of Manhattan, building by building, detailing the history of each corner -- and it's laid out so you can go from block to block, north, south, east or west. You can read how each section was named, and what buildings were there, how the current buildings were built, named and who occupied them.

Here, for instance, is the Brill Building:

Brill Building

1619 (corner): Built in 1931 by developer Abraham Lefcourt, it was soon taken over and renamed by the Brill Brothers clothing store. In 1932, Southern Music Publishing Company moved here, starting the building's role as a center of music publishing that would last until 1974. (Buddy Holly met his soon-to-be wife, Maria Elena Santiago, at Southern Music, where she was a secretary.) Almost a third of the songs played on Your Hit Parade from 1935 until 1958 were published by Brill Building companies. Songwriters like Carole King, Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond and Neil Sedaka got their starts here. Big Bands like the Dorsey Brothers, Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway were also headquartered here. On the ground floor, the Colony Music Center, with vintage vinyl and a great sheet music collection, is a reminder of the building's glory days.


Now, someone needs to mash this up with Google Maps so one could take the virtual walking tour and see what it all looks like as its being described.
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