The Sunset Cafe / The Grand Terrace

315 E 35th St.

The Sunset Cafe was a crucial spot for jazz and social life in Chicago. Louis Armstrong’s manager Joe Glaser owned the club, which opened in 1921, in the early years of the Great Migration. After a 1937 remodeling the room became renamed as the Grand Terrace. At a time of racial segregation in the South and in this city, this was a “Black and Tan” venue where Black and white audiences could intermingle. Those audiences were treated to performers ranging from such early jazz musicians as Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke, swing bandleaders including Benny Goodman and Cab Calloway, as well as such popular artists as Billy Eckstine and Billie Holiday. For many musicians in Chicago, the venue became a crucial training ground, including Sun Ra who brought in an early electric piano. The venue contained about 100 tables as well as a dance floor for different kinds of entertainment. While the cafe closed in 1950, its exterior has remained intact for decades afterward.


– A.C. 


Caption: Former location of the Sunset Cafe and the Grand Terrace.


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