Harlem is known internationally as the black Mecca of the world, but Harlem has been home to many races and ethnic groups including Dutch, Irish, Germans, Italians and Jews. Harlem was originally settled by the Dutch in 1658, but was largely farmland and undeveloped area for about 200 years. As New York's population grew, residential and commercial expansion shifted north and the development of Harlem Territory was inevitable.
In the 1880s, elevated railway lines were extended north along Eight & Ninth Avenue, encouraging expansion northwards. The expansion of the traffic routes caused speculation on the property and many beautiful terraced houses and apartment buildings were built. However, that boom slowed in 1893 when a national recession broke out. The recession slowed further development and slowed property sales. When the economy recovered in 1895, development continued, especially in the form of beautiful residential buildings.
The Lenox Avenue IRT subway line was completed in 1904, and once again many speculated that Harlem would become extremely coveted for those living in Lower Manhattan. Hundreds of tenement houses were built to occupy the Lower Manhattan crowds in order to occupy them. Unfortunately for the developers, the IRT not only made Harlem accessible to those from downtown, it also made Washington Heights, the Bronx, and other northern points accessible. The developers over-speculated and many houses were not sold.
Real estate agent and entrepreneur Phillip A. Payton approached several Harlem landlords with suggestions that their empty or partially inhabited properties be filled with black tenants. The idea was accepted and Payton began moving black families to buildings in Central Harlem in the 130s. Many don't know Phillip A. Payton, but Harlem Heritage Tours thinks he's the father of Black Harlem. The house where he lived with his wife Maggie is still in West. 131st street.
Blacks continued to pour into Harlem from points in Lower Manhattan, the American South, and the Caribbean. With the beginning of World War I in 1915, many foreign immigrants sailed for their homeland, leaving job opportunities in the war industry in the north. Blacks migrated from the south to the northern cities in record numbers in search of opportunity and higher wages.
In the 1920s, Harlem flourished with cultural and artistic expression. This period was christened 'Harlem Renaissance'. Harlem Renaissance personalities such as Langston Hughes, Aaron Douglas, Alain Locke, and others felt that they would use their artistic creativity to show America and the world that blacks are intellectual, artistic, and human and should be treated accordingly.
The Great Depression of 1929 rocked the country and devastated black communities like Harlem. The pressures of high rents, unemployment and racist practices accumulated in the Harlem riots in 1935 and 1943. World War II offered blacks little opportunity for advancement, and blacks mobilized against the war industry and demanded fair practices. Militant activity during the 1940s paved the way for the 1960s.
Harlem was both a stage and a player during the turbulent times of the civil rights movement. Religious and political leaders articulated the sentiments of the crowds from street corners and pulpits throughout the community. In the 1960s, personalities such as Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Queen Mother Moore and Preston Wilcox used Harlem as a launch pad for political, social and economic empowerment activities. Social problems caused Harlem's population to decline in the late 1960s to 1970s, leaving behind a high concentration of underprivileged residents and a rapidly deteriorating housing stock.
Despite the tough days of the past few decades, Harlem is currently experiencing a new renaissance. In contrast to the cultural and literary renaissance of the 1920s, the current rebirth is based on economic development and cultural preservation. A short stroll through any part of the parish will reveal the sights and sounds of construction workers developing real estate. Ex-President Bill Clinton could have set up his office anywhere in the US, but chose Harlem. Tourists from all over the world come in record numbers to enjoy the beautiful multiethnic culture of America's black capital.
New York City
One of the great things about Harlem Hospital is its location in New York City, a worldwide hub of artistic and scientific activity. A complete description of the rich cultural experiences the New York City area offers is beyond the scope of this site, but there are countless must-see sights and tourist attractions. The range of art on offer is unparalleled in view of the numerous museums, concert halls and the extensive theater district. Thousands of restaurants, clubs, cinemas, shops, street festivals, parks and beaches ensure fun entertainment. After all, New York and New Jersey have a variety of professional sports teams that draw legendary fan support.
When you visit New York City, you will discover culture and diversity that set us apart. One of the great things about New York City is its ability to walk. Much of Manhattan is laid out like a grid - uptown / downtown streets intersect with streets across the city, making it easy to navigate even for first-time visitors. NYC is an exciting and friendly place. NYC is known as The City That Never Sleeps because there is always something to do and to do at any time of the day or night. As you walk through the streets, you can smell the wonderful variety of fantastic food or explore the many shopping department stores for great bargains. The list in the Big Apple is endless ... take a bite!
- Former President Bill Clinton's office is in a 14th floor penthouse at 55 West 125th Street in Harlem.
- New York is called the Big Apple because, in the 1920s, a Morning Telegraph sports journalist named John Fitzgerald overheard how stable hands in New Orleans were calling New York's racetracks The Big Apple. A decade later, jazz musicians adopted the term to refer to New York City, Harlem in particular, as the jazz capital of the world. There are many apples on the trees of success, they said, but if you want to pick New York City, pick the big apple.
- The subway opened from City Hall to Harlem on October 27, 1904.