Marker is located on the Boardwalk east of S Kentucky Avenue
For more than four decades Kentucky Avenue ruled the East Coast Music scene. The greatest jazz and blues stars of all time filled its many clubs with round-the-clock entertainment - including Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Atlantic City's national treasure, drummer Chris Columbo and his Swing Crew in the forties and fifties.
As the other nightclubs called it a day, KY & the Curb was just getting hot. In the glory days of the 1950's Club Harlem had people lined up for blocks to see the 6 a.m. Breakfast Show. "Every night was our party," said historian Sid Trusty. "And we invited the world."
Ray Charles at Club Harlem in the 1960's.
Kentucky Avenue was famous for its black entertainment centers, especially a section between Atlantic and Arctic Avenues which featured the Club Harlem, Grace's Little Belmont, the Wonder Garden & Bar (across the street), and Golden's Cocktail Bar. Club Harlem was the most famous of these, on par with the Apollo Theatre in New York. More information about Club Harlem can be found here. The saying "KY & The Curb," or sometimes "KY at the Curb," originated from a joke told amongst black residents that in the segregated Atlantic City, the only place for African Americans was the curb. Barred from entertainment centers on the Boardwalk, Atlantic City's black community created an equally, if not more, exciting atmosphere on Kentucky Avenue, showing that "The Curb" didn't have to be a bad place. Club Harlem and the other Kentucky Avenue attractions eventually closed down, but fortunately, the city's residents have made many efforts to preserve the street's iconic past. Many summers have brought "Renaissance" music festivals to the same stretch of Kentucky Avenue, giving everyone a chance to relive "KY & The Curb's" heyday while continuing its musical traditions for generations to come.
For more information, see:
King, Christine. "History of Kentucky Avenue"
Club Harlem Retrospective, Vol. 1
Atlantic City Press, article from July 11, 1993