Harlem, Old And New

Poet Langston Hughes in 1961 AP

Harlem, the cultural capital of black America, has become a magnet for people everywhere. An international crossroads that still captures the imagination and stirs the hopes of people searching for a better life, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts for CBS News Sunday Morning.

Harlem is like Rome. Its cultural history is its treasure. Walking the streets of Harlem is like going on an urban archeological dig. Scratch the surface and you will uncover evidence of the cultural Mecca that was Harlem. Once elegant buildings that were built for white tycoons and eventually taken over by black families.

Uptown nightclubs where blacks performed for white audiences only and black jazz clubs and dancehalls where musicians made their reputations playing for black audiences. Some are mere shells of buildings. And some are the scenes of great nightlife still.

The '60s, '70s and '80s saw urban riots, crime and drugs. The population of Harlem dropped by more than a third. Landlords abandoned buildings, and New York City took them over. At one time, the city owned an estimated 40 percent of the housing stock in Harlem; much of it boarded up and abandoned except for the homeless and the lawless.

Throughout it all, it was the churches that remained the anchor for the community. The larger churches developed programs to provide social services for their parishioners, day care for its children, and housing for its senior citizens. They became the steadying influence on their neighborhood. Today, they are more important than ever to the revival of Harlem. They qualify for development loans and already own a great deal of property. They encourage their members to develop a strong political consciousness. They sell hope where there was once only despair.

In fact, the entire revival of Harlem is based on hope. That was always the appeal of Harlem. From the 1880s when Harlem was home to white families, to the early 1900s when black families, displaced from mid-Manhattan to make room for Pennsylvania Station and Macy’s department store, began to move out from the central city. It nurtured intellectuals and entertainers and welcomed the cream of Negro society.

President Clinton is not the first president to make his base there. In 1776, during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington used the Morris-Jumel Mansion as a military headquarters for a month. In 1790, President George Washington returned to the site for a commemorative dinner and celebration with his cabinet members and their wives including, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton.

HARLEM HOT SPOTS


CULTURE:

The Morris-Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terrace (At 160th Street)
New York, NY 10032
212-923-8008

The Studio Museum in Harlem
144 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
212-864-4500; 212-666-5753
Web site: www.studiomueuminharlem.org

The Apollo Theatre
253 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
212-531-5305; 212-665-1756; 212-749-5838

The Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Blvd. (At 135th Street)
New York, NY 10037
212-491-2200
Web site: Schomburg Center

CLUBS AND RESTAURANTS:

The Cotton Club
Westside Highway at 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
212-663-7980
Web site: Cotton Club

Jimmy’s Uptown
2207 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
New York, NY 10027 (at 130th Street)
212-491-4000

Lenox Lounge
288 Lenox Ave.
New York, NY 10027
212-427-0253

Londel’s Restaurant & Bar
2620 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
212-234-6114

Perks Supper Club
553 Manhattan Avenue
New York, NY
212-666-8500

Amy Ruth’s Restaurant
113 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10026
212-280-8779

Home Sweet Harlem Café
270 West 135th St
New York 10030
212-926-9616

The Bayou Restaurant
308 Lenox Ave.
New York, NY 10027
212-426-3800

Sylvia’s Restaurant
328 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027
212-996-0660
Web site: www.sylviassoulfood.com

Spoonbread Too Restaurant
547 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027
212-690-3100

SHOPS:

Grandview Boutique
2531 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
New York,NY 10030
212-694-7324
Web site: www.grandviewfashions.com

The Brownstone
2197 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
New York, New York 10027
212-996-2400

The Harlem Collective
2533 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY 10030
212-368-00520

TOURS:

Harlem Heritage Tours
212-280-7888
Web site: www.harlemheritage.com

Michael Adams
Architectural Historian
212-426-5757

BOOKS:

"Touring Historic Harlem: Four Walks in Northern Manhattan"
By Andrew S. Dolkart and Gretchen S. Sorin
Conservancy Tours

"The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader"
David Levering Lewis
Viking/Penguin

"When Harlem Was in Vogue"
David Levering Lewis
Penguin Books

"Remember Me to Harlem: The Collected Letters of Langston Hughes & Carl Van Vechten"
Alfred A. Knopf

"The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes"
Alfred A. Knopf

"We’ve Come this Far: Abyssinian Baptist Church: A Photographic Journey"
Bob Gore
Stewart Tabori & Chang


©MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter