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[[image - black and white photo of crowds in Harlem on Armistice Day 1919]]
[[caption]] Armistice Day, Lenox Ave. and 134th St., 1919

[[image - black and white photo of military band]]
[[caption]] Returning - Jim Europe's "Hell-Fighters" Band, [[/caption]]

[[image - black and white photo of a regiment of Black soldiers]]

(Columbus Circle area). These Black concentrations were overcrowded, dirty and expensive to live in.

Faced with so many perils in the big city, Blacks banded together to protect themselves. They established benevolent, fraternal and protective societies, and insurance pools and church groups (since they weren't allowed to worship in the city's white churches). It was quite natural, therefore, for the Black migrants to search for a place to form their own social community. This was the pattern of almost all immigrant groups in New York City. Form your own community and put another "crack" in the melting pot. Thus, the Black social community in New York City became Harlem.

At this time Harlem was a white upper-middle-class residential community - Manhattan's first suburb. Speculators were buying up land in Harlem every hour and becoming millionaires overnight.
"On the outskirts of this Utopian community, one would be amazed to see the dark marshlands inhabited by the Irish gangs of Canary Island, the 'Italian Colony' of East Harlem filled with marionette shows, organ grinders and garbage dumps, and 'a large colony of the poorest colored people' in Harlem's Darktown." In the latter part of the nineteenth century the construction of new subway routes in Harlem set off a second wave of speculation. It was this second wave of over-speculation which created the final "bust" in 1904 and 1905. Financial institutions no longer made loans to Harlem speculators, mortgages were foreclosed, the land depreciated, and prices lowered. These conditions of ruin created the proper atmosphere for Black settlement in Harlem. This was the start of the Black ghetto called Harlem.


Today, one of the city's biggest "sore thumbs" is housing in Harlem. The problem is simple - the annual average income of Harlem residents is not high enough to support competitive private housing. Greedy slumlords control the maze of Harlem's tenements. The City Building Department receives some 500 complaints a day about falling plaster, holes in walls, rats, hazardous plumbing and unsanitary facilities. Housing Court can do little more than levy fines against apathetic slumlords. Very often a slumlord will accept a fine one day, merely to continue to rake high profits from substandard tenements for the rest of the year. 

The city's only answer to this age-old problem is the Housing Authority. In 1962, more than 450,000 people were housed in city projects. City projects are such popular environments for the poor that they have become a worthy competitor for the slum. The kind of life created by these project complexes is a prime example of city planning. The Housing Authority not only builds apartment houses, it also attempts to create integrated housing communities among lower-income families. This isn't easy. In Harlem's city projects, such groups as poor Italians, Irish, Puerto Ricans and Blacks are huddled together in "planned communities" which are surrounded by familiar slums. A large portion of these tenants are on welfare. Fear and suspicion are widespread, and there is constantly the feeling of isolation.
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