Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan that is known for its jazz clubs, African American history and heritage, quality food, and bars. The neighborhood is also famous for its theatres, and some of New York’s most famous writers, musicians, and creatives have lived in Harlem.
Harlem was originally settled by the Dutch in 1658. Harlem remained an isolated rural community for the next two hundred years as New York City was gradually expanding north. Harlem started to grow in the 1880s after public transit was extended to the neighborhood. As more people moved north, Harlem became known for its fine row houses and multiple family apartment buildings, in the late 19th century. Harlem’s rapid growth slowed in 1893 during a major recession, but development picked up again in 1895. The first subway line was extended to Harlem in the early 20th century, and many Black families moved to the neighborhood. Many African American families moved to Harlem from Lower Manhattan and from segregated areas of the American South, as did immigrants escaping the First World War. During the Roaring Twenties, Harlem became one of New York’s most artistic neighborhoods; this was known as the Black Renaissance. Many important figures such as Langston Hughes, Aaron Douglas, and Alain Locke resided in Harlem, and the neighborhood became known for its theaters, art, jazz, and many public events. Harlem was one of New York’s hardest-hit neighborhoods during the Great Depression starting in 1929, and many were forced to flee the neighborhood due to extremely high rents. Racist practices and increased discrimination culminated in the Harlem riots of 1935 and 1943. Harlem played an important part in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s when notable figures like Malcolm X used the neighborhood to advocate for the fair treatment of Blacks in America. In the 1970s, as New York faced a major recession the population of Harlem declined and the area became known for crime. The situation started to pick back up in the 1990s and 2000s and today Harlem is once again experiencing a Renaissance with cultural events, museums, theaters, and art exhibits all over.
The National Jazz Museum is a famous museum in Harlem honoring the neighborhood's jazz legacy.
The Marcus Garvey Park is a popular green space and an important public park in Harlem.