I heard about the Cotton Club long before I moved to Harlem. It was one of the places I knew I wanted to see. But the Cotton Club I saw was not the one of legend.
The old club was located at 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue, the site of the Club De Luxe, which was owned by the black boxing champion, Jack Johnson. Owney Madden, a well-known mobster and bootlegger, bought the Club De Luxe in 1923 and renamed it the Cotton Club, an interesting name given the kind of clientele the establishment would serve.