Harlem is a residential neighborhood located above Central Park and below Washington Heights. It is known as a predominantly African American community filled with an eclectic range of restaurants, bars, Jazz clubs, and shops, but in its history it has played host to Dutch farmers as well as Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrant communities.
About the only aspect of the neighborhood that remains constant is that it is continually evolving, with a new diverse community including millennials and international residents alike.
The name of the neighborhood is derived from the Dutch city, Haarlem, and the Dutch used their ‘Nieuw Haarlem’ settlement for farmland throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries. In the 19th Century, Harlem became home to Irish and Italian immigrants as well as Jewish populations from Germany and Eastern Europe. It wasn’t until the early 20th Century that the transition to African American took place, when a construction boom was followed by a dearth of demand that left landlords in search of tenants. African Americans—mostly coming from the south—and Caribbean immigrants filled this void and in the immediate years that followed, flourished. The Harlem Renaissance brought attention to the significance of black artists and intellectuals and their impact on American culture, and names like Langston Hughes, Ella Fitzgerald, and W.E.B. Du Bois gained overdue recognition. The Depression followed the Renaissance, and for the rest of the century the neighborhood endured a turbulent ride that included important moments like the Civil Rights Movement but also socioeconomic upheaval and a declining quality of life.
Today, Harlem is once again a burgeoning area of development and change.
New properties, both commercial and residential, are being built, and old ones are being restored. Neighborhood icons like The Apollo Theater, Cotton Club, and Sylvia’s are still around and extremely popular, and newer establishments like Red Rooster, Amy Ruth’s, Whole Foods and Zoma are sure to please. Any number of dining or entertainment options can be found along Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell Jr, or Frederick Douglass Blvds, and greenspaces include Marcus Garvey, St. Nicholas, Morningside, and Central Parks.