Basketball in 1920s Harlem

Sports loomed large among the entertainments patronized by Harlem's residents in the 1920s.   Basketball occupied the most prominent place. Romeo Dougherty, sportswriter for the Amsterdam News, argued that, "Here in Greater New York and New Jersey basketball has meant more to us than baseball for the latter sport among colored people has been so closely… Continue reading Basketball in 1920s Harlem


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

Harlem’s Hospitals

Harlem in the 1920s was not well served by hospitals.  One public hospital was located in the neighborhood, but continued to be dominated by whites throughout the decade. Blacks did operate four small private hospitals, but they charged fees beyond the resources of most blacks and were not well-supported by those who could afford them.… Continue reading Harlem’s Hospitals


Churches were the most prominent black places and institutions in Harlem. They made a powerful impression on visitors to the neighborhood, such as the (white?) journalist who wrote in The Independent in 1921 that “In the main, [Harlem] is impressive. Especially the churches.” This map shows 52 black church buildings located in the neighborhood. They… Continue reading Churches