The Tree of Hope

The legend and tradition of The Tree of Hope began outside the famous Harlem Lafayette Theatre once located between 131st and 132nd Streets on Seventh Avenue, known as the Boulevard of Dreams.

The Lafayette was then Harlem's top show biz venue featuring African-American talent. The Lafayette soon became the scene for aspiring actors, dancers and performers to mix, gather and exchange information and gossip. The Tree of Hope stood between the Lafayette Theatre and Connie's Inn and black performers believed the tree to be the purveyor of good luck to those who stood beneath its branches. The tree came to symbolize the promise that Harlem held for millions of aspiring African-Americans.

Around the time that the Apollo Theater first opened in 1934, the City of New York widened Seventh Avenue and the trees that had once lined the Boulevard of Dreams had to be removed. One of the trees doomed to this fate was the famous Harlem landmark, The Tree of Hope. To this day, a large section of the trunk of this very tree stands on the Apollo stage and every Wednesday night, hopeful performers touch the tree in the hope they can share in the good fortune of so many performers in the past.