Skip to main content
Hotel Beacon NYC


Join Beacon Insider & Save 30%
Jazz in New York, A Short History  blog image

Jazz in New York, A Short History

March 28 2022

Jazz originated in New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th century, with popularity growing quickly throughout the state and the rest of the country. By the 1920’s the Jazz Age had well and truly taken hold and was quickly becoming the genre of choice for Americans everywhere.  

Despite not originating in New York, Jazz and the Big Apple have an exciting history and New York Jazz is now a genre in its own right. Artists including Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong helped NYC to gain its reputation for great jazz music throughout prohibition in speakeasys across the city. 

By the 1930s when prohibition ended, the foundations for a city of jazz clubs had already been laid. Great artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, and Lena Horne began attracting more people to the city for the great music scene and jazz clubs started popping up all over the city – some of which are still in operation today.  

If you’re a jazz fan and you’re visiting the city, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t catch at least one live show – New York is the Jazz Capital of the USA after all! There are plenty of bars and clubs to choose for a great night out, and many of them within walking distance of the Hotel Beacon – this Time Out list is a great point of reference.  

sepia photo of underground jazz bar with brick walls and intimate bar

The Lincoln Center and Dizzy’s Club  

Since 1987, the Jazz at Lincoln Center have hosted classical jazz concerts becoming constituent of the Lincoln Center in 1996 – making it one of the best places in the city to enjoy classic jazz. Dizzy’s Club – located at the Center – is considered the “best Jazz Room in the City” and offers views across Central Park and the Manhattan Skyline.  

Village Vanguard 

If a large concert isn’t for you, the Village Vanguard offers a much more intimate jazz experience – and it’s the oldest jazz bar (Feb 1935) in the city that is still in operation. Visit on a Monday night to see the Jazz Orchestra that have been performing at the location for over 50 years.  

sepia photo of group of friends laughing and drinking at a table in a jazz bar


Often considered the best Jazz Club in New York, Birdland first opened their doors in 1949 with Charlie “Bird” Parker as the headliner. The club has since closed and relocated numerus times and is now situated in Manhattan’s theatre District.  


If you’re looking for an underground, downtown, intimate jazz experience - look no further than Smalls. As one of the best-known jazz clubs in the city and the world, it is one of the closest experiences you will get to a real 1920s NYC speakeasy.  

The Hotel Beacon is located just steps away from the Lincoln Theatre – a popular location for jazz musicians. Several jazz stars, current and previously, use our apartment-style suites as a home away from home when working in the city – you never know who you might bump into in the corridors!