2010-05-05

The Lion at Suburban Gardens (1939)

Suburban Gardens was the first major amusement park within Washington, D.C.. Located at 50th and Hayes Streets, in the Deanwood neighborhood near the National Training School for Women and Girls, it opened in 1921 and was in operation for almost two decades, closing by 1940. Today Merritt Elementary School occupies part of the site of Suburban Gardens.

Suburban Gardens was created by the Universal Development and Loan Company, a black-owned real estate and development company. Apart from a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, several swimming pools, games of chance and picnic grounds, there was also a large dance pavilion where popular jazz musicians performed.

Here's where our Lion enters the game. He played there for three consecutive nights on June 23, 24 & 25, 1939, billed as the "King of Swing" (sic) and accompanied by his Junglecats including vocalist and dancer Ollie Potter. Dancing started at 8:30... with no known end.





Washington Afro-American (June 17, 1939)

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