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Tin Pan Alley: Before, After & Beyond

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In the early 20th century many songwriters and music publishers worked on West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Ave, known as Tin Pan Alley. Before the advent of the phonograph player, radio and strict copyright laws(!), selling sheet music was a profitable business for these folks. According to some, the term “Tin Pan Alley” referred to the cacophonous sound made by the multitude of cheap pianos hammering out different tunes from the open windows along 28th St.

Today this short stretch along West 28th St is occupied primarily by low-end retailers who sell purses, perfume, wigs, mobile phone accessories, among other things. For years the upper floors in many, if not most of these buildings have been used as storage with maybe a small showroom in the front.

But today there seems to be another sea change happening. With rents on the rise and leases expiring, these retailers are starting to move from the area. Taking their place are hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and . In five years from now this area will look dramatically different.

Aug 31, 2011
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