Our article “Harlem in Black and White: Mapping Race and Place in the 1920s,” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Urban History. It should appear at the end of 2012. The abstract reads:
In the 1920s, as Harlem emerged as the largest black city in the world, a significant white presence remained in the neighborhood. Whites not only frequented nightlife, they owned and operated the vast majority of Harlem’s businesses, policed its streets, staffed its schools and hospital, drove its public transport and most of the vehicles travelling its streets, delivered goods, collected rent and insurance payments, and patronized sporting events. Scholars have only made briefly mention of this presence and its impact on everyday life, portraying race relations as harmonious and inconsequential in a neighborhood represented as a segregated refuge from whites. Drawing on black newspapers and legal records, and using the Digital Harlem site to map and visualize that evidence of the white presence, reveals a very different picture, of interracial encounters that often led to conflict, and of Harlem as a place of contestation, negotiation, resistance, and accommodation.
The map below captures part of the white presence in Harlem, locating the institutions staffed by whites, some of the posts patrolled by police, and the routes traveled by the buses and streetcars driven by whites. The streets serviced by public transport also featured the neighborhood’s businesses, most staffed as well as owned by whites. Other maps relating to the white presence in Harlem are already on the blog, in posts on traffic accidents, street vendors, and ice dealers.