Numbers on Harlem’s Streets

Numbers gambling formed part of the rhythm of Harlem's street life. A map of arrests for playing the numbers in 1925 features almost every corner on Fifth, Lenox, Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Those arrests generally took place in the morning, when players seeking to place bets on their way to work and before before the… Continue reading Numbers on Harlem’s Streets

Advertisements

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

Parades in 1920s Harlem

Harlem is also a parade ground. During the warmer months of the year no Sunday passes without several parades.  There are brass bands, marchers in resplendent regalia, and high dignitaries with gorgeous insignia riding in automobiles.  Almost any excuse for parading is sufficient -- the funeral of a member of the lodge, the laying of… Continue reading Parades in 1920s Harlem

New Feature: Mapping the path of an event

A new feature has been added to Digital Harlem, thanks to the folks at the Archaeological Computing Laboratory.  It is now possible to link the path of an event.  This is most obviously useful for mapping events such as parades.             If you map the July 4th parade of members… Continue reading New Feature: Mapping the path of an event

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

Roger Walker – A Lodger’s Life in 1920s Harlem

Roger Walker* was a nineteen-year old native of North Carolina and restaurant worker placed on probation after being convicted of trying to burgle a drug store in 1930, when he was unemployed and without money for food (*This name is a pseudonym, used at the request of the Municipal Archives). The map of Walker's life… Continue reading Roger Walker – A Lodger’s Life in 1920s Harlem

Harlem’s Soapbox Speakers

Soapbox or street corner speakers were a feature of everyday life in Harlem from World War One to the 1960s.  Each year, the appearance of speakers was heralded as a sign of spring, and they were particularly prevalent through the summer months, when the heat led residents of Harlem to spend most of their leisure… Continue reading Harlem’s Soapbox Speakers

Traffic Accidents in 1920s Harlem

In the mid-1920s, an average of almost ten people a day, including two children, suffered injuries in automobile accidents between 130th and 155th Streets. Reports of those accidents regularly appear in the black press, and occasionally in The New York Times, and in some cases led to felony prosecutions that appear in the District Attorney's… Continue reading Traffic Accidents in 1920s Harlem

Prostitution arrests

Prostitutes were among the blacks who migrated from the San Juan Hill neighborhood to Harlem.  As early as 1919, according to reformer Willoughby Waterman, they had relocated from West Side Ave between  34th and 56th Streets to the area of 7th Avenue from 132nd to 143rd Streets.  The number of black prostitutes arrested by police… Continue reading Prostitution arrests