Mapping Coltrane's Life

A street-view timeline of John Coltrane's residences
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About

This page is a project that I was inspired to create after reading Lewis Porter's incredible book, John Coltrane: His Life and Music (amazon link). Porter's thorough and meticulous biography features census records, street addresses, and more. When I finished it in the Fall of 2014, I had over 77 pages of notes (complete with an index)! A small selection of those notes features every address that was mentioned (many more than the eight presented here). Each time I came across an address I hopped onto Google Maps to see it for myself. I loved seeing the houses, streets, and environments that were part of Coltrane's everyday life, be it where he was born, began learning music, or lived when recording Giant Steps and Kind of Blue.

If you've gained anything at all from this page please consider buying Porter's book!

September 23, 1926 - late 1926
birth to approx. 2 months of age

Coltrane was born on this corner
200 Hamlet Ave, North Carolina

Coltrane was born here, on the second floor of a previous building at this corner, 200 Hamlet Ave, North Carolina. His parents, John Robert (J.R.) Coltrane (b. ca. 1901, d. 1/2/1939) and Alice Coltrane (nee Blair) (b. 3/22/1898, d. 9/1/1977), moved into the former apartment at this location in about 1925. They soon moved to High Point, North Carolina a couple months after Trane's birth. Trane's father seemed to have worked as a tailor for the entirety of his short life. At this time Trane's mother, Alice, was a homemaker, however, she had graduated from Livingstone College, in 1925, before moving into the apartment here with J.R. Coltrane. More is known about Trane's mother's family lineage than his father's, however both were from religious families -- both of Trane's grandfathers were AME Zion ministers. Trane's paternal side of the family seemed to have had little to do with Coltrane's upbringing when compared with his mother's side of the family. Coltrane's paternal parents were living here in 1920, at 540 Charlotte Street.

Plaque next to the door.

Picture From: Led Zeppelin Crashed Here: The Rock and Roll Landmarks of North America By Chris Epting. Page 188.

Coltrane's Blue Room

If you click down the street you will see this sign. Coltrane's Blue Room is apparently a party room.

1926 - circa. 1937
2 months - 11 years old

Coltrane spent his childhood years on this street
105 Price Street, High Point, NC

Coltrane and his parents moved to High Point, NC, shortly after he was born. Trane's maternal grandfather was the leader of the St. Stephen AME Zion church on Price Street. Today, the St. Stephen AME Zion church is on Leonard Street, and it can be seen by clicking down Price Street and turning left; the church will be on the right side of the street, across from the police station (see paragraph below).

Reverend Blair (Trane's maternal grandfather) was also involved in the creation of Leonard Elementary School (pictured immediately below), a school for the black children of High Point. Porter notes that Coltrane probably began school here in September 1932. Part of this school now houses the High Point police department which is directly behind the starting view of this map.

More information on Trane's Childhood in High Point, NC can be found at the High Point Museum website.

Leonard Elementary School

Coltrane's maternal grandfather, Rev. Blair. was involved in the creation of this building. Part of it still stands as part of the High Point Police department. Read more in High Point Museum online exhibit (link below, "Read More").

Read More.

Circa. 1937 - circa May, 1943
11 - 16 years old

Coltrane's life changed dramatically while living here
118 Underhill Street, High Point, NC
Zoom in on the house to see the correct address

This house was built by Reverend Blair (Coltrane's maternal grandfather) - see the zillow listing that states the house was built in 1922. They moved here from the house above on Price Street.

"But during this seventh-grade school year of 1938 and 1939, Coltrane's family suffered a series of deaths that were to have disastrous consequences."
Lewis Porter in John Coltrane: His Life and Music, 1998, page 15.

These deaths included his father at age 39, his grandfather Blair, his Aunt Effie (maternal side), and his maternal grandmother.

"It was just at this time that he began to take up music, playing first the alto horn, then the clarinet, and from the beginning he is said to have practiced continuously, obsessively, as if practicing would bring his father back, or maybe help him to forget his father -- as if, by succeeding in music, he could restore stability and control to his life. Perhaps, in a sense, music became his father substitute. And through music, he could both express and relieve this pain he felt about his father's death, a pain that never seems to have allowed himself to fully explore.

'For a while,' observed his high school friend David Young, 'I don't think he had anything but that horn.'"
Lewis Porter in John Coltrane: His Life and Music, 1998, page 17.

Soon, Coltrane's mother and his cousin Mary moved away, and Coltrane spent the rest of his time in High Point living alone in this house with boarders. There are many great insights into Coltrane's life in this chapter (and all the chapters, of course) of Lewis Porters book. I've only highlighted this one aspect. please consider purchasing his incredible book to learn more.

circa May, 1943 - March, 1952
16 - 25 years old

Where Coltrane became a professional musician
1450 North 12th Street, Philadelphia

After graduating from high school in 1943, Coltrane moved to Philadelphia where his mother was living. A friend, Franklin Brower, helped Coltrane find an apartment at this address, 1450 North 12th Street (Porter, p. 21). This move to Philadelphia turned out to be enormously important from a musical stand point (more on this in the next paragraph). Coltrane lived here with his Mom, his friend James Kinzer, his Cousin Mary, and her mother, Bettie, on the second floor (of a previous building). Soon Mary and Bettie moved into the apartment below, and shared the two floors with the Coltranes. During this time Coltrane was working at a sugar refinery (p. 22). Prior to this he worked as a soda jerk (p. 21), shoe shiner (p. 19), and later at a Campbell's Soup factory in nearby Camden (pp. 23, 37). Trane never returned to High Point, NC, save one time soon after the move to Philadelphia.

"It was, after all, the place where he lost all the men in his life as well as his grandmothers, when he was at attender age."
Lewis Porter in John Coltrane: His Life and Music, 1998, page 22.

Philadelphia had a particularly rich musical culture at this time and proved to be the perfect incubator for Coltrane's formative relationships. Benny Golson lived on nearby Pace Street, and Trane and Golson would attend the after-hours jam sessions at the Woodbine Club at 12th and Masters, where legends such as Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, and others played. Coltrane's musical life began to takeoff here.

The original apartments on this street were torn down around the time of the move. Porter notes that Kinzer left around 1954 (Porter, p. 91).

Historical photo from about the same location

Coltrane's house, if pictured, would be on the right side.

Thanks to HiddenCityPhila for the photo.

March 1952 - August 23, 1957
25 - 31 years old

Coltrane first met and toured with Miles (and Naima), while living here
1511 North Thirty-Third Street, Philadelphia, PA

Trane purchased this house (to the left of "Nick's Brunceria," a vegan cafe) in Philly's Strawberry Mansion neighborhood in March 1952, when he was 25 years old. Until this time, he, Mary, and their mothers Alice (Trane's mother) and Bettie (Mary's mother) and even his friend James Kinzer were still living in the two apartments (above) on North Twelfth street.

This house is a historical landmark, and was owned by his Cousin Mary, but it has unfortunately fallen into disrepair. The Library of Congress website hosts pictures of the house, including photos of the inside, from the early 2000s when the house was a museum and functioned as the "John Coltrane Cultural Society." One of these pictures is below. Notice the street sign in front of the house; it reads:

John W. Coltrane (1926 -1927)
A pioneering African-American jazz musician, composer, saxophonist. Coltrane used African and Indian elements to create a distinct style which at first shocked audiences but ultimately gained wide acceptance. He lived here, 1952 - 1958.
Plaque outside this home.

Aisha Davis (who would marry McCory Tyner) lived nearby on Van Pelt near Twenty First Street. Aisha had a sister, Rosemary (Khadijah) Davis, who married Steve Davis. Khadijah and Steve Davis, as well as Coltrane, held jam sessions at the respective houses. Dizzy, Bird, Rollins, and others were also known to have attended, as well as one very important person, Khadijah's friend, Naima!

Naima and her daughter lived at 1816 North Seventh Street (p. 96) when she and Coltrane met. They got married on Monday, October 3rd, 1955 in Baltimore, during Coltrane's first week with Miles Davis! Naima had a daughter from a previous relationship, Saeeda, previously spelled Syeda, born Antonia in late 1949 or early 1950. Saeeda and Niama then moved in at the thirty-third street house with Mary and Alice when Trane was on tour with Miles.

View the Wikipedia page for this house.

August 23, 1957 - December 22, 1959

Apt 2B, 203 West 103rd St., New York

Coltrane, Naima, and Saeeda moved here around August 23, 1957, just a couple months after he recorded his first album as a leader, Coltrane/Prestige on May 31, 1957 .

Prior to living here, Coltrane briefly lived at the Alvin Hotel near Fifty-second Street and Broadway in order to prepare for the recording.

Difficult marriage problems between Naima and Trane arose as early as 1958 while living here. For more information on this, please see Porter's book, page 269 - 272.

December 23, 1959 - Summer 1963

116-60 Mexico Street, St. Albans, Queens, New York

Trane, Naima, and Syeeda moved into this house on December 23, 1959.

Slide Hampton lived nearby(ish) at 245 Carlton Avenue in Brooklyn (p. 140). Porter notes that it was a "huge brownstone" that Hampton rented out. Hampton's other tenants included Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Larry Ridey, Eric Dolphy, and the painter Prophet (cover art of some of Dolphy's albums)! Dolphy has a piece titled "245" dedicated to the house.

Steve Reid talks about visiting Coltrane at this home in this article.

Coltrane moved out in the summer of 1963 (Porter, p. 270). I'm unsure of where he lived, presumably with Alice McLeod (soon to be Alice Coltrane). In The John Coltrane Reference book, Porter notes that Coltrane sold this house to Naima for $10 on June 1, 1965 (The John Coltrane Reference, page 323). Coltrane divorced Naima and married Alice on the same day in Juarez, Mexico in August 1966.


July 6, 1964 - July 17, 1967

243 Candlewood Path, Dix Hills, Huntington, Long Island, New York

Sign outside of home

I have conflicting information on exactly when Trane and Alice moved into this house. Porter, for instance, wrote that they moved in soon after their August 1966 marriage (p. 272), however the sign in front of the property clearly notes 1964. Either way, Alice, Trane and their three sons, John W. Coltrane Jr. (b Aug. 26, 1964), Ravi John Coltrane (b. August 06, 1965), and Oranyan Olabisi Coltrane (b. March 19, 1967) lived here until 1972, five years after Trane's death at 40 years old in 1967. John W. Coltrane Jr. tragically died in a car accident in 1982 at the age of 17.

The House was purchased in 2004 by the Huntington Society to save it from demolition.

View the Wikipeida page about this home.
Consider "liking" the Coltrane Home page on Facebook.

Click "Drop Markers" to see the location of each of the eight homes listed above.

Get directions to one of Coltrane's old houses!


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