Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts & Entertainment District


On July 1, 2019, Maryland state officials have marked the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor as an official arts and entertainment district. The Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts and Entertainment District will join two dozen other districts around the state. For more, see the full article:

https://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/arts/bs-md-penn-ave-arts-district-named-20190701-story.html

We've decided to share some Pennsylvania Avenue history with a photo of the infamous Little Willie Adams and wife, Victorine, from 1941. Little Willie Adams went from being a numbers runner to a prominent African American venture capitalist, who bankrolled numerous black-owned businesses, such as Parks Sausage. He also owned Little Willie's Tavern on Druid Hill Avenue and Whitelock Street in Baltimore.

His wife, Victorine Q. Adams, was the first African American woman to serve on the Baltimore City Council. She was also a businesswoman (she owned the Charm Center Boutique on Pennsylvania Avenue) and teacher in the Baltimore City School System for 14 years.

These two were truly a power couple.

William "Little Willie" Adams and wife, Victorine Q. Adams, 1941. Courtesy of the Nanny Jack & Co Archives.

Here's a glimpse of what life was like in 1941, when this picture of Little Willie and Victorine Adams was taken:

An automobile cost $925 and gasoline to fill that car was 19¢/gallon.

If you wanted to see a movie on the Avenue, a ticket was 25¢. Some of the movies of 1941 included "Murder on Lenox Avenue" and "Citizen Kane."

Some of the music from the year included "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday, "Goin' to Chicago Blues" by Count Basie, and "Take the A Train" by Duke Ellington.

The Avenue meant different things to different people, however it brought lots of colorful characters and dollars to the region.