Harlem 1913-30

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Map Code: Ax01328

Harlem’s black population numbered about 10,000, concentrated in tenements around 130th Street, in a prevailingly Jewish and Italian neighbourhood. The property price crash of 1904-05 created a glut of housing in the area which black real estate entrepreneurs remedied by the mass supply of black tenants: by 1910, 10 per cent of the population was black; by 1930, 70 per cent. Easing of immigration restrictions (1917) also generated a large influx of Puerto Ricans who settled mainly along the Harlem River, which became ‘Spanish Harlem’. Nevertheless, over 80 per cent of the district’s businesses remained white-owned, provoking Marcus Garvey, a pioneer of black empowerment, to form the Negro Factory Corporation to promote economic independence – UNIA millinery was one product of their activity. ‘The spiritual home of the Negro protest movement’, Harlem was a base for the social theorist W. E. B. Dubois and jazz poet and activist, Langston Hughes. Latvian bootleggers ran Connie’s Bar, and admitted black customers, unlike the Cotton Club.

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