The Manhattan Casino is located along 22nd Street South in what was once a thriving "main street" of the City's African American community. The main corridor, 22nd Street South, also known as "The Deuces," was home to the Seaboard Coastline Railroad Building (designated a local landmark in 1992), the Manhattan Casino (the African American community's dance hall) and the Mercy Hospital, the primary medical facility for the City's African American community.
History of the Manhattan Casino
Built in 1925, the Manhattan Casino is significant for its contribution to entertainment and the culture in the African American community for more than forty years. Some of American music's most legendary performers played at the Manhattan including James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Fats Domino and the Ink Spots.
The property is also significant for its association with Elder Jordan, a local African-American entrepreneur whose business interests were broadly varied. Elder Jordan and his sons contracted in 1925 with R.L. Sharpe to build a 12,000 sq. ft., two-story Manhattan Casino, which first opened as an entertainment facility named the Jordan Dance Hall in 1931. Later the dance hall became known as the Manhattan Casino; and, during segregation the Manhattan was the place for cultural and social entertainment similar to what the Coliseum provided to the white community.
The Manhattan Casino was a showcase for local African American artists as well as a haven for traveling African American entertainers who would stop in St. Petersburg during their tours. After the era of the big bands, the Manhattan Casino hosted dances featuring local artists; rock and roll and blues singers popular in the 1960's also performed at the Casino. Goldie Thompson, local minister and radio personality, booked religious programs at the Casino, as did Father Divine, a spiritualist. The venue closed its doors in 1968.