St. Pete's Longtime Event Hall
Built in 1925, the Manhattan Casino has contributed to entertainment and culture in the African American community for more than 40 years. Located along 22nd St. S., in what was once a thriving downtown area, the Manhattan has long been known as the community dance hall. In recent years, the Manhattan has served as an active food hall and event space hosting a variety of public and private events across the venue.
December 1, 2022: The Manhattan Casino will be closed temporarily while capital improvements are made over the next six months.
In 1925, a local African-American entrepreneur named Elder Jordan contracted with R.L. Sharpe to build a 12,000 sq. ft. two-story entertainment facility, which first opened as the Jordan Dance Hall in 1931. It later became known as the Manhattan Casino and was part of “The Deuces”—an area along 22nd St. S. that was a hub of business and entertainment for the African American community during segregation-era St. Pete.
During segregation, the Manhattan Casino was the place for cultural and social entertainment for the African American community, similar to what the Coliseum provided to the white community. The Manhattan was a showcase for local African American artists as well as a haven for traveling African American entertainers who stopped in St. Pete during their tours. 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.
After the era of the big bands, the Manhattan Casino hosted dances featuring local artists, and provided a stage to rock and roll and blues singers popular in the 1960's. Local minister and radio personality Goldie Thompson booked religious programs at the Casino, as did Father Divine, a spiritualist.
The venue closed its doors in 1968 but has been revived in recent years as an events hall and entertainment venue as part of a larger revival initiative of this historic neighborhood.
Community Conversation: Manhattan Casino
On November 1, 2022, Mayor Kenneth T. Welch hosted a Community Conversation at the Center for Health Equity to discuss the future use of the Manhattan Casino. Nearly 200 residents attended this in-person and virtual meeting to share their feedback about the future use of the space.