Hard economic times hit Harlem during the Depression and continued through the 1980s. With rampant poverty, high unemployment and high crime rates; Harlem was a tough place to live. Redevelopment in the 1980s revived interest in the neighborhood. As the Manhattan real estate market boomed, the abandoned buildings in Harlem were replaced with new housing and office buildings. Real estate investors snatched up beautiful old brownstones that had fallen into disrepair and began restoring them to their former glory. Soon Bill Clinton and Starbucks moved in, and Harlem’s second renaissance became official.

The iconic theaters, monumental jazz clubs, and musically vibrant neighborhoods all encapsulate swing jazz, rap, hip-hop churches, and poetry.


In the neighborhood's golden age in the 1920s and 30s, Harlem was the heart of black culture in the United States. Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald performed at hot Harlem clubs like the Cotton Club and the Apollo. Writers Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes became Harlem literary legends. Maya Angelou moved to New York in 1959 and joined the Harlem Writers Guild. 

Harlem is the Mecca for jazzenthusiasts.The National Jazz Museum is a multimedia interactive exhibition that preserves jazz artifacts, features performances, and runs multiple music workshops. Stop by the Showman’s Jazz Club and Minton’s Playhouse to experience a spiritual rebirth, while immersing yourself in the residual voices of legends such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Coltrane.

The best place in the city for African sculpture and textiles is the Malcolm Shabazz Market (52 West 116th St,

(212) 987 8131). If what you are looking for is, oils or incense you can find that

with ease along 125th Street.