Tin Pan Alley

41-55 West 28th Street

From the 1890s to around 1910, this row of structures, which mostly date to the 1850s through the 1870s, was home to influential music publishers and songwriters’ studios. The row is known as the birthplace of the modern music industry, where sheet music was first developed, categorized into genres and marketed as a commodity for mass distribution. Publishers also hired piano players to demo songs for high-profile performers, launching the careers of many American songwriters, including Scott Joplin, George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin and (possibly) George Gershwin. Famous tunes originally published here include Albert Von Tilzer's "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (1908) and one of the first ragtime compositions, Ben Harney's "You've Been a Good Old Wagon, But You've Done Broke Down" (1896), now a Blues standard. The origin of the name “Tin Pan Alley” is not clear, though many attribute it to the sound of pianos ringing out into the street. By 1911, the industry had moved uptown. Plans to demolish the buildings never came to fruition, in part due to the Great Depression, and the area was spared from urban renewal initiatives in the 1950s and 1960s. With the area’s rise in desirability, the demand for hotel sites has threatened small buildings. In 2013, Tin Pan Alley’s remaining buildings were sold to a developer. Without landmark protection, many fear this could signal the disappearance of this legendary cultural landmark.