ELMO HOPE WAY, Morrisania

by Kevin Walsh

LYMAN Place is a rather obscure (except for local residents) one-bock street running between East 169th Street and Freeman Street east of Prospect Avenue. It was laid out in the early 20th Century and is a rarity in that it actually carries a given name…Lyman Tiffany, who was a member of the Tiffany family, who had large holdings in the area in the postcolonial era. Tiffany Street in Longwood is named for the family. As far as I know, this Tiffany family had nothing to do with the famed Tiffanys of jewelry and stained glass fame.

In 2016, Lyman Place was subnamed for a great jazz pianist who lived on the street, Elmo Hope (1923-1967). Hope was the son of immigrant parents from the Caribbean and grew up in NYC, residing here for much of his life except for four years in Los Angeles from 1957-1961. He picked up piano from an early age and survived a shot in the back at age 17 by a NYC policeman, who mistook him for a member of a gang who participated in a mugging. An early classical fan, Hope learned jazz piano from a childhood friend, fellow pianist Bud Powell.

Hope resided on Lyman Place for several years beginning in the 1930s. For two years, jazz legend Thelonious Monk also lived on the block and he and Hope became close friends. Though not a household name these days, Hope played on over 70 albums, including some of John Coltrane‘s, and he is considered a key figure in the evolution of the bebop style. Hope performed and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Lou Donaldson, Clifford Brown, Jackie McLean and Chet Baker. He suffered from drug use, which curtailed his career and ended his life at age 43.

Elmo Hope’s music can be sampled on youtube.

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Bertha Hope July 9, 2021 - 4:38 am

Elmo Hope’s family moved from 117th and Madison in Harlem to Lyman Place in the ‘30’s when he was a young boy, not the ‘60’s.
He also recorded with “Philly”Joe Jones and Paul Chambers, among others.

Kevin Walsh July 9, 2021 - 9:23 am



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