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Thread: Blacks Become a Minority in Harlem

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Blacks Become a Minority in Harlem

    Here's an interesting article on the racial/ethnic changes (and their causes) occurring in the Manhattan neighborhood that has long been the symbol of Urban Black America.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/ny...agewanted=1&hp

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Seems quite similar to what took place in some of Denver's black neighborhoods in the 1990s and 2000s; Five Points and Whittier especially.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    When i visited NYC in Jan 09 i stayed in a hostel in Harlem, and i noticed a heck of a lot of terrace housing getting renovated, gentrification before my eyes. But my general observation was there was a still a black majority, just from walking the street, going to the supermarket and waiting on the subway.
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    Here's an interesting article on the racial/ethnic changes (and their causes) occurring in the Manhattan neighborhood that has long been the symbol of Urban Black America.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/ny...agewanted=1&hp

    If white-majority Harlem in 2010 is cleaner, safer, and has more valuable and desirable real estate than black-majority Harlem in, say, 1990 then so be it. Though I certainly understand the concerns of poor minorities who are affected by gentrification, at the same time I can't help but wonder, "do people WANT these neighborhoods to remain dilapidated and crime-infested?" Ideally, I suppose when a neighborhood transitions from a working-class community to a middle-to-upper income community, it would retain the same ethnic makeup for the sake of preserving culture, but if it doesn't happen...............well, so be it. This is one instance in which I have to say let the market work.

    I mean, seriously. Anybody should've seen it coming. Manhattan real estate is WAY too valuable for blighted areas such as those in Harlem to remain blighted without someone wanting to take a chance and go in there and fix it up.

    Wouldn't places like Detroit and Cleveland love to have the "problems" Harlem has (i.e. inflating property values, decreasing crime, etc)?

    Besides, Harlem was a Dutch and Irish neighborhood before blacks started moving to New York in the early 20th century. It transitioned once 100 years ago, and it's transitioning again. It's not like it was a sovereign nation that was taken over by an invading army. It's a neighborhood. Neighborhoods change over time, it's part of the dynamics of urban life.

    As for Harlem's signifcance as a center of black culture, well that was like in the 1920s. Atlanta has become the new national mecca of black culture.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    Though I certainly understand the concerns of poor minorities who are affected by gentrification, at the same time I can't help but wonder, "do people WANT these neighborhoods to remain dilapidated and crime-infested?".
    Yes. A while ago, I posted about a certain subculture of New Yorkers that despise the former Mayor Guiliani for cleaning up the city; in their minds, by doing so, he sterilized much of the city, for example Times Square, and rid it of much of its "authenticity". I generally disagree with that mindset, but I understand it. In 1990, much still remained of the "old New York" culture, scene and streetscape in Manhattan, where today almost none of it remains. I've heard others blame the popularity of Sex in the City for the almost complete gentrification of Manhattan.

    In Buffalo, there's a large portion of urbanites that are suspect of gentrification, thinking it will rid neighborhoods of their "authenticity", and attract too many "undesirables", such as yuppies and suburbanites. As I've posted before, Buffalonians are generally into "authenticity" and "keeping it honest, genuine and real" in a way that hipsters can only dream of.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Yes. A while ago, I posted about a certain subculture of New Yorkers that despise the former Mayor Guiliani for cleaning up the city; in their minds, by doing so, he sterilized much of the city, for example Times Square, and rid it of much of its "authenticity". I generally disagree with that mindset, but I understand it. In 1990, much still remained of the "old New York" culture, scene and streetscape in Manhattan, where today almost none of it remains. I've heard others blame the popularity of Sex in the City for the almost complete gentrification of Manhattan.

    In Buffalo, there's a large portion of urbanites that are suspect of gentrification, thinking it will rid neighborhoods of their "authenticity", and attract too many "undesirables", such as yuppies and suburbanites. As I've posted before, Buffalonians are generally into "authenticity" and "keeping it honest, genuine and real" in a way that hipsters can only dream of.


    I can understand that. I seem to remember talking about this in another recent thread - struggling rust belt cities would love to have these "problems". But I do understand people's sentiments about wanting a "real" city and not some sterilized urban Disneyworld. But at the same time, who wants to live in some crime-infested cesspool? I grew up in neighborhoods like that. The house I lived in as a child is literally falling apart and covered in gang grafitti today. I WISH that neighborhood could've saw some gentrification and some yuppies would've came and fixed it up! In Birmngham the gentrification is very SLOWLY beginning in some fringe neighborhoods just outside of downtown. Excuse my cynicism, but I'll believe it when I see it. As of right now, I've only heard rumors about this supposed gentrification. I drove through the neighborhood a few days ago, still looks like the same old hood to me. If it does happen though, it'll be the best thing to happen to the area, especially if it lowers the crime rate and gets some of the old homes in the neighborhood fixed up.

    There's got to be a middle ground between safety/security and sterility/Disneyifcation of cities. After all, other cities throught the developed world (western Europe, Canada, Japan, etc) have VERY low crime rates compared to U.S. cities, but they don't seem boring or bland at all. If anything, places like Amsterdam, Tokyo, Toronto, Montreal, etc. are probably even more interesting, exciting, and dynamic than their American counterparts.

    BTW, it's funny you mention Sex and the City. In this week's edition of Newsweek, there's an article about the gentrification and subsequent inflation of real estate prices in New York City, and how people come to the city as young, relatively affluent professionals who live the Sex and the City lifestyle, but leave the city (and sometimes the Greater New York area altogether) once they have kids. The article talked about how NYC needs to retain its middle-class communities and be a place that's friendly for child-raising in addition to the young singles' scene.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    My first introduction to Manhatten was in 1990. I took the train down the Hudson River into the City not really knowing what to expect. The first stop was an elavated rail station at Harlem. Having heard that Harlem was supposed to be rough, it looked a heck of a lot better than the South Bronx I had just passed though. There were businesses lining the streets and people out conducting business. Looked fairly normal to me (unlike the S Bronx where I had never seen tennaments before).

    The train pulls into Grand Central I get off the train and start wandering, hoping to catch a train to the South so I could get to the Statue of Liberty. One look at the subways and there was no way I was going down those holes, the types of folks milling around the outsides were as undesirable as they come. So I start plan B and walk down to Broadway where I encountered even more scum in Times Square. People handing out leaflets and tokens for shows, massage parlors; even guys with three card monty set-ups that would fold out of briefcases on a momments notice.

    The point is the most normal place I saw in Manhatten was Harlem. I can understand why folks would want to live there. It did not seem impovrished 20 years ago. When I went back to Manhatten about 2000, I arrived via Newark. I could not believe he transformation of the City, Times Square seemed clean and livable the second time, there were no longer people who looked like they were ready to rob you intimidating people outside of the subway stations. I did not get a chance to get out of mid-town, but what I saw was a night and day difference over the previous visit.

    I am saddened to see areas change, but without change cities do not evolve. Culture change is actually good for cities in many respects as long as it does not ignore the needy. In 1990 Harlem was the least needy place I saw on the island.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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