Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Harlem was annexed to New York City in 1873.
Harlem has been defined by a series of boom-and-bust cycles, with significant ethnic shifts accompanying each cycle. Black residents began to arrive en masse in 1904, with numbers fed by the Great Migration. In the 1920s and 1930s, the neighborhood was the focus of the “Harlem Renaissance”, an outpouring of artistic and professional works without precedent in the American black community. However, with job losses in the time of the Great Depression and the deindustrialization of New York City after World War II, rates of crime and poverty increased significantly.
New York’s revival in the late 20th century has led to renewal in Harlem as well. By 1995, Harlem was experiencing social and economic gentrification. Though the percentage of residents who are black peaked in 1950, the area remains predominantly black.