#352 The Birth of Black Harlem

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By Tom Meyers and Bowery Boys Media. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

How did Harlem become Harlem, the historic center of Black culture, politics and identity in American life? This is the story of revolutionary ideas -- and radical real estate.

By the 1920s, Harlem had become the capital of Black America, where so many African-American thinkers, artists, writers, musicians and entrepreneurs would live and work that it would spawn -- a Harlem Renaissance.

But in an era of so much institutional racism -- the oppression of Jim Crow, an ever-present reality in New York -- how did Black Harlem come to be?

The story of Harlem begins more than three and a half centuries ago with the small Dutch village of Nieuw Haarlem (New Haarlem).

During the late 19th century Harlem became the home of many different immigrant groups -- white immigrant groups, Irish and German, Italian and Eastern European Jews -- staking their claim of the American dream in newly developed housing here.

But then an extraorindary shift occurs beginning in the first decade of the 20th century, a very specific set of circumstances that allowed, really for the very first time, African-American New Yorkers to stake out a piece of that same American dream for themselves.

This is a story of real estate -- and realtors! But not just any realtor, but the story of the man who earned the nickname the Father of Harlem.

Part one of a two-part show on the origins of Harlem.

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