Walking the Post Road

View of the Apollo Theater, 125th Street, Harlem.  The marquee says it all.

“Hurry, Hurry, Hurry,

  Take the “A” Train.

  To find the quickest way

  To get to Harlem.”

Take The “A” Train,

Sung by Betty Roche,

Written by Billy Strayhorn,

Performed by The Duke Ellington Orchestra, 1952. (1)


  1. 1. Although the song was written by Billy Strayhorn as early as 1938, it was not officially recorded until 1941 and lyrics did not appear until the mid-1940s.  The song was the signature tune for Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, and Betty Roche performed what is widely regarded as the best version.  The lyrics above are from the 1952 Columbia recording.  Two related anecdotes:  Ellington hired Strayhorn in 1938 and reportedly sent him a ticket to New York from his home in Pittsburgh, telling him to “Take the ‘A’ Train” up to Ellington’s house in Harlem when he got to Penn Station, thus providing the name of the most famous of his compositions.  Betty Roche’s career began when she won an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in 1941.  In 1943 she became Ellington’s vocalist, but the well-known version of Take the ‘A’ Train was not recorded until 1952.

  2. 2.Although only at night; normally the C train serves the local stations while the A is an express train which skips stations, including 155th Street.

  3. 3.Birket, Some Cursory Remarks, 40.

  4. 4.Knight, Diary, 70.

  5. 5.Cutler, 228.

Distance Walked in the Entry:  2.40 miles

Total Distance Walked in New York State:  26.9 miles

Total Distance Walked for this Project (from Boston): 340.6 miles

Distance Remaining to New York (Bowling Green):  7.6 miles