Located in Harlem, the best-known black neighborhood in New York City and probably the country, the Apollo grew to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance of the pre-World War II years. In 1934 it introduced its regular amateur night shows, which became famous for launching careers of artists like Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown, and later Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill.
The club fell into decline in the 1960s and 1970s, but was revived in 1983, when it obtained federal, state and city landmark status. It fully reopened in 1985, and was bought by the state of New York in 1991. It is now run by a non-profit organization, the Apollo Theater Foundation Inc., and allegedly draws 1.3 million visitors annually.