1920s Harlem as a Destination

Summer did not just lead residents to depart Harlem for day trips and longer summer camps; it also brought visitors to the neighborhood. Some came as individuals to study or see family, friends and the city's attractions, others as groups for large events. Evidence of the presence of middle-class tourists in Harlem exists thanks to… Continue reading 1920s Harlem as a Destination

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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

Hubert Julian in Harlem

Hubert Julian, by his own account, arrived in Harlem in 1921.  Born in Trinidad in 1897, he had migrated to Canada in 1914, where he claimed to have learned to pilot an aeroplane and served as a Lieutenant in the Canadian Air Force, and came from there to New York City.  His first appearance above… Continue reading Hubert Julian in Harlem

“The Black Eagle of Harlem” in Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture

Our article, "The Black Eagle of Harlem," has appeared in Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930, a collection edited by Fitz Brundage and published by the University of North Carolina Press. The article is a study of Hubert Julian, the black aviator, parachutist and celebrity, considering him as a… Continue reading “The Black Eagle of Harlem” in Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture

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

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