Black Businesses in 1920s Harlem

When blacks moved to Harlem to live, they also looked to relocate and establish businesses. While the number of Harlem's residences that were home to blacks steadily expanded, the neighborhood's businesses remained largely in white hands through the 1920s. Thanks to the refusal of white banks to lend to blacks and white landlords to rent… Continue reading Black Businesses in 1920s Harlem

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Constrained but not contained: Patterns of everyday life and the limits of segregation in 1920s Harlem

Stephen Robertson's article, "Constrained but not contained: Patterns of everyday life and the limits of segregation in 1920s Harlem," has appeared in The Ghetto in Global History: 1500 to the Present, edited by Wendy Z. Goldman and Joe William Trotter, Jr. (Routledge, 2017). The article is based on the presentation he gave to the Sawyer… Continue reading Constrained but not contained: Patterns of everyday life and the limits of segregation in 1920s Harlem

“Harlem in Black & White” now in the Journal of Urban History

Our article, "Harlem in Black and White: Mapping Race and Place in the 1920s," has now appeared in the Journal of Urban History, vol. 35, no. 9, September 2013, pages 864-880. The abstract and a related map can be found in an earlier post announcing the acceptance of the article for publication in 2011.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Harlem

Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was headquartered in Harlem from 1918 to 1927.  The organization generally appears in accounts of Harlem on parade, on the occasion of its conventions.  However, the UNIA occupied more than the streets. Its headquarters was on West 135th Street, as were the offices of a number of the… Continue reading The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Harlem

“Disorderly Houses” in the Journal of the History of Sexuality

Our article "Disorderly Houses: Residences, Privacy and the Surveillance of Sexuality in 1920s Harlem" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the History of Sexuality. It will appear in 2012/2013. The article argues that despite overcrowding, Harlem's residences  provided privacy, due to the regular, extended absence of residents at work, the willingness of… Continue reading “Disorderly Houses” in the Journal of the History of Sexuality

Harlem’s Street Vendors

On Saturday evenings, as crowds thronged Seventh Avenue in search of entertainment, many residents of Harlem headed to Eighth and Fifth Avenues to patronize street markets.  Street vendors operated throughout the week, but those evenings were a particularly busy time as residents shopped for their Sunday dinners, the main meal on the one day or… Continue reading Harlem’s Street Vendors

Harlem’s Beauty Parlors

Beauty parlors were the most prevalent form of black business in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s.  When George Edmund Haynes, the black sociologist and founder of the Urban League, surveyed the neighborhood's businesses in 1921 he found 103 hairdressers, compared to 63 tailors, pressers and cleaners and 51 barbers.  Simm's Blue Book, a directory… Continue reading Harlem’s Beauty Parlors

Ice Dealers in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s

Ice dealers were prominent among the white deliverymen, salesmen and bill collectors who ventured into the residential blocks occupied by blacks. In an era before widespread electrification, Harlem’s residents and businesses relied on ice to store food as well as to cool drinks. For much of the 1920s, Italians enjoyed what the New York Age… Continue reading Ice Dealers in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s

More on Numbers Gambling

With the publication of our book Playing the Numbers drawing near, I've added some more pages explaining the game: how the number was generated how players chose a number to bet on, how the policing of numbers worked who operated the game, the bankers and kings and queens. I've also added a new resource, selections… Continue reading More on Numbers Gambling

Arrests for Numbers Gambling

The map of Numbers arrests is currently one of the Featured Maps on the Digital Harlem site; simply click on the image in the right hand column of the site to see the map. The pop-up box that opens contains an abbreviated version of the information contained in this post. In the 1920s, Numbers gambling… Continue reading Arrests for Numbers Gambling