Harlem is a neighborhood in Manhattan that is bordered by the Hudson and East Rivers. It was first a Dutch settlement, but a rapid influx of African Americans in the early 20th century changed the face of the community, making it one of the largest African American communities in the United States. In the 1920s the area became known through its art and literature (the Harlem Renaissance), and today it is known as the former home for some of the most popular rappers and singers. This cultural center is worth a visit with your New York car rental.
Harlem can be found between the East River and the Hudson River. Going from 155th Street to Washington Heights. Part of the area was settled by the Latin American community, and is now known as Spanish Harlem.
This general discription of Harlem is somewhat flexible in definition. Over the years the boundaries have changed as people moved in and out of the area. But there are several distinct communities within Harlem, such as Sugar Hill, Astor Row, and Hamilton Heights. Driving through these districts with your New York car rental, you can see the diverse culture each has to offer.
Moving Towards the Present
In the late 1990s Harlem began to see rapid renovation and an increase in property values, as well as an influx of welthier residents. Part of the reason for this was because there was a change in federal and city policies and fierce crime-fighting in the area. The goal was to develop a retail corridor, the Harlem USA retail complex. Since much of Manhattan and Brooklyn was developed, there was not many other places to go and investors started to come to the area. Housing units have increased and property values have risen in some areas. Even former President Bill Clinton has rented office space here after his presidency. The area is safe to visit with your New York car rental.
Harlem History and Culture
Harlem has a distinct culture that you can see from your New York car rental. In the 1920s there was the Harlem Renaissance. There was amazing artistic production. However, racial segregation at the time sometimes prevented blacks from seeing the work of their peers. Jazz was another popular form of entertainment from within the black community. The Cotton Club was a popular club during prohibition. Duke Ellington played there, but the club was restricted to whites only. Much of this period in Harlem’s history is romanticized. The neighborhood became a slum. People would be so poor that they had to hold parties with bootleg alcohol being served in order to pay the rent. People would also take in lodgers in order to make their rent every month, who would often disrupt the lives of the people they were staying with by crime or other bad habits. Housing projects began in the late 1920s in an effort to eliminate the problem. However, the Depression hit soon after and the project failed.
There are some very interesting places in Harlem to visit with your New York car rental such as the Apolli Theater and the Lenox Lounge.