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Monterey Jazz Club

The first wave of Black migration from the south to New Haven began in the late-1870s, after Reconstruction ended. Southern state lawmakers were passing laws to disenfranchise Black voters. In Louisiana, for example, there were 130,000 Black voters registered in 1876, but only 5,000 by 1900. This time period also saw the rise of the KKK, so escaping the South was about seeking safety for African Americans.

Many African Americans also came North to find jobs during the Depression of 1873 which affected southern farmers. Industrialization attracted Black people and other immigrants to New Haven for jobs. The Winchester Factory in New Haven, which made guns, for example, employed many Black workers until it closed in the early 2000s.

The Great Migration of African Americans from the south to northern cities, like New Haven sped up between WWI and WWII. Dixwell Avenue was one of centers for Black communities in New Haven, and this street saw many Black businesses, churches, as well as jazz clubs. One of the most popular jazz clubs was the Monterey Club, located right here at 265-267 Dixwell Ave, founded by Rufus Greenlee. The clubs on Dixwell hosted some of the best jazz performers in the nation like Josephine Baker, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and more. And of course, New Haven boasted its own extraordinary Black musicians.

A 2001 documentary titled “Unsung Heroes” shares many firsthand accounts of the New Haven jazz scene.

A Peoples' History of Dixwell
  1. Dixwell Tour Intro
  2. Hillhouse High School
  3. Directions to Monterey Jazz Club
  4. Monterey Jazz Club
  5. Directions to Hannah Gray Home
  6. Hannah Gray Home
  7. Directions to John Daniels Place
  8. John Daniels Place
  9. Directions to Goffe Street School
  10. Goffe Street School
  11. Directions to Negro YMCA
  12. Negro YMCA
  13. Directions to Masonic Temple
  14. Masonic Temple
  15. Directions to Q House
  16. Q House
  17. Directions to Bristol Street
  18. Bristol Street
  19. Directions to Grove Street Cemetery
  20. Grove Street Cemetery
  21. Directions to Attempt to Make an HBCU in New Haven
  22. Attempt to Create HBCU in New Haven
  23. Directions to Yale Law School
  24. Jane Matilda Bolin and Pauli Murray
  25. Directions to Grace Hopper College
  26. College Renamed
  27. Directions Back to Hillhouse High School
  28. End of Dixwell Tour