Crawford Grill

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Crawford Grill
CrawG013 Fix.jpg
Crawford Grill number 2 (2009)
Crawford Grill is located in Pittsburgh
Crawford Grill
Location of the Crawford Grill in Pittsburgh
Location 2141 Wylie Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
United States
Coordinates 40°26′44″N 79°58′41″W / 40.44567°N 79.97804°W / 40.44567; -79.97804
Governing body/owner Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
PA marker dedicated April 7, 2001

Crawford Grill was a renowned jazz club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Hill District. Its heyday was the 1930s to 1950s.


The club was founded by Gus Greenlee, who first made his reputation as a numbers runner and racketeer, then later as the owner of the Negro League baseball team the Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Music lovers flocked to the Crawford Grill to hear Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, and other legends of jazz. White musicians who played downtown venues would go uptown to "The Grill" after their gigs to jam into the night with black musicians. The Crawford Grill was a meeting spot for people of all colors who loved jazz.

Greenlee operated three Crawford Grill nightclubs in Pittsburgh. The original was opened in 1930 on the corner of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue in a former hotel called the Leader House. It remained in business until 1951, when it was destroyed by a fire. The building was demolished in 1959 as part of the Civic Arena development plan.[1]

The second site, known to historians as Crawford Grill number 2, opened in 1943 on the corner of Wylie Avenue and Elmore Street, approximately ten blocks east of the original location. In 2001, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission dedicated a marker on the site.[2] However, the club closed its doors in 2002, and was put up for sale in 2006.[3] An investment group representing public and private interests purchased the building in 2009, and continues to pursue preservation and restoration work via the Crawford Grill Revitalization Project.[4]

Crawford Grill number 3 was the final, and least popular, of the Greenlee clubs. Located on the corner of Bidwell Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the club was open from 1948 until 1955.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "Owner of the Legendary Crawford Grill and the Pittsburgh Crawfords". Pittsburgh Music History. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Crawford Grill Historical Marker". Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 7 April 2001. Text from historical marker: A center of Black social life where musicians such as Art Blakey, Mary Lou Williams, John Coltrane drew a racially mixed, international clientele. Here, Crawford Grill number 2, the second of three clubs opened 1943; was owned by William (Gus) Greenlee, later by Joseph Robinson. 
  3. ^ Guidry, Nate (15 November 2006). "Hill District landmark Crawford Grill for sale". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  4. ^ Spencer, Malia (1 March 2010). "Group of nonprofits, investors aim to bring Crawford Grill back". Pittsburgh Business Times. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Crawford Grill at Wikimedia Commons