Pennsylvania Avenue & Lafayette Avenue (Street View)
GPS: 39° 18′ 4.20″ N 76° 37′ 55.20″ W
Born in Philadelphia, Billie Holiday eventually spent her early childhood years in Baltimore City. At ten years old she was put in Catholic reform school, The House of the Good Shepherd, to help ease her troubled early development. After two years relatives and friends were able to remove her from the rigorous program, her mother then moving the family to New York City. By the time she was in her late teens Billie was working in Brothels and singing for tips. On the verge of eviction and penniless, Holiday was noticed serenading in one of Harlem’s legendary nightclubs and the rest is history.
When I first went to photograph and inspect the Billie Holiday statue in early June of this year the monument wasn’t there, having been removed for renovation and overhaul. When the bronze likeness was returned to it’s home in July, a more complete version of artist James Earl Reid‘s original vision was achieved. The relief sculptures Reid had attempted to put around the base of the statue were installed, censorship not standing in the way this time around. Across the street from the plaza is a monument to the Royal Theatre, a famous venue that Mrs. Holiday played during her career.