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"HARLEM"

Harlem: Lies in the northeast section of Manhattan - starting at about 110th Street and Central Park, running east to the Harlem River, then northeast to approximately 168th Street, with western boundaries at Riverside Drive.

Harlem is comprised of various ethnic groupings but it is considered home for more than 500,000 of greater New York's Black population.

Peter Stuyvesant built this village in 1658 as an outpost against the Indians - who called the area "Muscoots" meaning a flat place.  The town was laid out in the vicinity of what is now 125th Street and Peter Stuyvesant named it Niew Haarlem after a town of Haarlem in Holland.

Present day Harlem is a city of contrasts: to those seeking knowledge it is exciting and unconventional with its schools and colleges and libraries, such as the Countee Cullen Branch, named after the Negro Poet Countee Cullen and the Schomburg Collection, a reference and research library devoted to Negro life and history.  The Schomberg Collection is considered one of the most centers of the world for the study of the Negro.  The Library is international in scope, it covers every phase of Negro activity, wherever Negroes have lived in significant numbers.  Its material range from early rarities to current happenings. 

To the Negro graduate Harlem affords a chance for practice of their profession among their own people. Harlem is the most studied area in the city of New York.  Artists, writers, sociologists, find a wealth of material here.

Gracious living making Harlem a city within a city can be found in various areas of Harlem.  Local pride points to 138th and 139th Streets between Seventh  and Eighth Avenues as 'Strivers Row', a name ascribed to dwellers of the Stanford White Architected planned row of Brownstone houses in those streets.  Modern day Harlem boasts numerous units of public housing, numerous units publically assisted and, private developed housing among which are Franklin Plaza Riverton, Lenox Terrace, Delano Village, Esplanade Gardens and the soon to be occupied RiverBend Houses, which will offer Duplex apartment living on the Harlem River waterfront from 138th to 142nd Streets. 

Harlem's health need will soon be serviced from a majestic Harlem Hospital Medical Center being completed at 135th Street and Lenox Avenue now.

Harlem houses many churches of all denominations. Some outstanding membership are directed at St. Phillips, the largest Episcopalian Church in the Diocese;  Abbyssinia Baptist, with its colorful and flamboyant Pastor, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell;  St. Charles Roman Catholic Church, which is surrounded by a housing project named in honor of the late Monsignor Cornelius Drew;  and then there is St. Martins Church with its Carillon Bells extolling the glory of the Lord up and down Lenox Avenue.

In the old days Harlem was known as the entertainment spot of the world uptown.  Harlem housed the world-famed Savoy Ballroom, Cotton Club, Connies Inn and  Beale Street located at 133rd Street from Lenox to Seventh Avenues, where all the after hour spots were housed. Today's Harlem boast entertainment on Seventh Avenue via Count Basie and Well's and Wilt Chamberlains Small's Paradise.  The Old Lafayette Theatre is now the home of the Williams Institutional Church, the old Lincoln Theatre at 135th St. and Lenox Avenue from which the late and great Fats Waller played the organ and piano and composed such hits as "HoneySuckle Rose", "Your Feets Too Big", and "Ain't Misbehavin'", is now a neighborhood Baptist Church.

But entertainment can be found in Harlem at its famed Apollo Theatre on 125th St. where Vaudeville and continuous stage show revues are still in order.

Talk of a Cultural Center supporting an Opera House, a Richard Rodgers Band Shell, Swimming Pool and field house, a new music library, a Theatre Center with broad pavilion, restaurants and boutiques as well as a State Office Building of 26 stories are all in the progress stage, extolling the glories of a new and more vibrant Harlem of the future.


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Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.