Harlem's New Renaissance

Most people celebrate Harlem for what it once was: the center of jazz and black culture, later the birthplace of bebop. Variety called it a place of "pep, pulchritude, punch and presentation"--but that was 70 years ago. It's been a while since Harlem was a mecca for such larger-than-life figures as Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. By the 1960s, Malcolm X called Harlem home. But influential middle-class blacks were fleeing to the suburbs, as the area developed a reputation for drugs, violence, and soul-numbing poverty. In the next decades, few middle-class New Yorkers ventured into Harlem--a section of upper Manhattan roughly bounded by 110th and 155th Streets--and even the cops seemed nervous here at midday.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.