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What is the history of Bop City?

Ben Steelman

According to Margaret S. Rogers, Bop City was a stretch of shoreline at the north end of Carolina Beach, where black beachgoers were allowed in the 1940s and 1950s. (Restrictive covenants sharply limited African Americans at Carolina Beach in the segregation era; for a while in the 1920s, according to local resident Bruce Freeman, blacks were allowed on the island only on Mondays.) For a variety of reasons Sea Breeze and Freeman’s Beach, on the other side of the inlet from Carolina Beach, was usually preferred by blacks before the coming of the civil rights movement.

Bop City was also the name of a short-lived tavern, operated by Jimmy Liggins during the summers of 1947 and 1948 on the shore at Carolina Beach north of Harper Avenue and Fisherman’s Pier. Liggins, a friend of “Chicken” Hicks, had early operated the notorious Tijuana Inn at Carolina Beach. Both places were famous for playing “race records” (music by African-American artists) on their jukeboxes, and both played a role in the early history of shag-dancing.

The questioner, however, says his mother used to talk about Bop City and described it as lying on the north side of Wilmington, in the vicinity of the old Greyhound Bus terminal. We cannot find any documentation for that name. However, the number of night spots in the city during the bebop era of the 1940s — most famously, The Barn at 1020 S. 11th St., Wilmington [Map this] — makes it possible there was a Bop City at the time. Does anyone have more information?

User-contributed question by:
Michael Byrd

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2 Responses to “ What is the history of Bop City?”

  1. On February 9, 2012 at 9:17 pm tina wrote:

    my aunt knows of The Barn that was located on south 11th st.

  2. On February 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm Faye wrote:

    My parents use to attend dances at the Barn. Also this was a venue where Black R&B singers and bands could perform!

    Also I remember going to Bop City during family and neighborhood outings during the Summer.

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