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Gallery: Harlem Of The West

March 2015

Celebrating a record release in the Fillmore diner, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson Jr

Fillmore Street, looking south from Post Street, taken late 1940s. Photo: David Johnson

Unknown Fillmore Photographer with double flash. Photographer unknown

Red Powell (left) in front of his shoe shine parlor on Fillmore Street. Photo: Reggie Pettus/Red Powell collection

Barbershop in the Fillmore with man getting his hair processed. Photo: Reggie Pettus/Red Powell collection

Ella Fitzgerald and other San Francisco luminaries in the Booker T Washington Hotel in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Reggie Pettus/Red Powell collection

Duke Ellington and Friends at the Manor Plaza Hotel in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson Jr

Billie Holiday and Mel Tormé in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson Jr

Charlie Parker at Jimbo’s Bop City in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson

From left: Charles Sullivan, known as “the mayor of the Fillmore”; Ralph J Gleason, jazz and rock critic for the San Francisco Chronicle; Lionel Hampton wearing Wesley Johnson’s 10-gallon Stetson hat; two unknown men at Wesley Johnson’s Texas Playhouse. Photo: Wesley Johnson Jr Collection

Wesley Johnson greeting Leola King at a party at the Texas Playhouse in the Fillmore, 1958. Photo: Wesley Johnson Jr Collection

Josephine Baker (left) and Leola King at her club the Blue Mirror in the Fillmore, 1950s. From the Leola King collection

Max Roach (lt) at Jimbo’s Bop City, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson Jr

Destruction of the Fillmore by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. Late 1950s. Photo: San Francisco Redevelopment Agency

Images from Elizabeth Pepin and Lewis Watts's book on the San Francisco Fillmore jazz and blues era

Lewis Watts collaborated with the film maker and writer Pepin Silva to tell the story of the Fillmore music scene in the 1940s and 50s. During this era, one square mile of the Fillmore contained more than two dozen nightclubs and music venues, including well-known spots like Jimbo’s Bop City. Its significant place in African-American musical and cultural history led to the Fillmore district being compared to New York’s Harlem. Few people today know of its rich history, which was thoroughly erased during the district’s redevelopment in the 1960s.

Fundraising is in progress to reprint Lewis Watts and Elizabeth Pepin Silva’s 2006 jazz and blues history, Harlem Of The West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, in an extended form that includes a multimedia website and a travelling museum. More on that campaign here.

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