Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The interesting thing about the media attention to greater Harlem's demographic change is the lack of focus on the minorities that are becoming the majority.  An article in the Times a few years back announced that Harlem was no longer majority black and posted a photo of a new white resident with child outside of a brownstone.  Since then a couple of articles have come out that illustrate a more complex dynamic then what is typically written in the majority of articles about Harlem's growth in this new modern century.

One would expect with the headlines and the visuals that Harlem suddenly changed into Park Slope but the reality is the shift is very diverse and majority Latino or surprisingly some Chinese.  A more recent article mentions that a former public housing project (which is now a low income co-op) on the east side has become a Chinese enclave.  Another point to note is that most of the changes like the fact that El Barrio's East 116th Street is now majority Mexican involves new immigrants moving in to replace and not displace an older demographic moving out. 

With that said, a majority of articles on gentrification in Harlem today seem to go the same route which makes it appear that uptown's iconic neighborhood has become less diverse but the reality is the opposite.  Remember that Harlem lost over half of its population from the 1950s up until a demographic growth that started just in the past decade or so.  Empty buildings and former residents moving out has been the trend for over half a century and the new groups moving in are a diverse mix replacing communities that left for elsewhere.  During the early Renaissance years of the 1920s, the white population was almost 90 percent in Greater Harlem but today is probably just below 20 percent: LINK


  1. El Barrio's East 116th has changed in population and not the west side.

  2. Thanks for the nuanced view of the demo changes. Something else that's underreported is how many of the new (not just older) businesses are black-owned and/or owned by other people of color - something to celebrate and financially support.