Wednesday, January 06, 2010

No Longer Majority Black, Harlem Is in Transition

I've been hearing rumbles about this for years. Harlem may remain the capitol of black America, but other peoples may decide that this is the place for them. The future may be other people moving in and turning a neighborhood around.

From NY Times:
For nearly a century, Harlem has been synonymous with black urban America. Given its magnetic and growing appeal to younger black professionals and its historic residential enclaves and cultural institutions, the neighborhood’s reputation as the capital of black America seems unlikely to change soon.

But the neighborhood is in the midst of a profound and accelerating shift. In greater Harlem, which runs river to river, and from East 96th Street and West 106th Street to West 155th Street, blacks are no longer a majority of the population — a shift that actually occurred a decade ago, but was largely overlooked.

By 2008, their share had declined to 4 in 10 residents. Since 2000, central Harlem’s population has grown more than in any other decade since the 1940s, to 126,000 from 109,000, but its black population — about 77,000 in central Harlem and about twice that in greater Harlem — is smaller than at any time since the 1920s.

In 2008, 22 percent of the white households in Harlem had moved to their present homes within the previous year. By comparison, only 7 percent of the black households had.
Harlem, said Michael Henry Adams, a historian of the neighborhood and a resident, “is poised again at a point of pivotal transition.”

Harlem is hardly the only ethnic neighborhood to have metamorphosed because of inroads by housing pioneers seeking bargains and more space — Little Italy, for instance, has been largely gobbled up by immigrants expanding the boundaries of Chinatown and by creeping gentrification from SoHo. But Harlem has evolved uniquely.

Because so much of the community was devastated by demolition for urban renewal, arson and abandonment beginning in the 1960s, many newcomers have not so much dislodged existing residents as succeeded them. In the 1970s alone, the black population of central Harlem declined by more than 30 percent.

“This place was vacated,” said Howard Dodson, director of Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. “Gentrification is about displacement.”

Meanwhile, the influx of non-Hispanic whites has escalated. The 1990 census counted only 672 whites in central Harlem. By 2000, there were 2,200. The latest count, in 2008, recorded nearly 13,800.

“There’s a lot of new housing to allow people to come into the area without displacing people there,” said Joshua S. Bauchner, who moved to a Harlem town house in 2007 and is the only white member of Community Board 10 in central Harlem. “In Manhattan, there are only so many directions you can go. North to Harlem is one of the last options.”
Over at The Sixth Ward, we've covered the issue of not only gentrification, but also any attempt at integration. I can't say it's an issue in Chatham (largely located in Chicago's 6th Ward). There may be a decent sized group of non-blacks in that community and perhaps enough to attract the attention of the blogger at the CAPCC blog.

Another neighborhood that is an historically black neighborhood in Chicago was Bronzeville. Historically that community was also called either Black Metropolis or the Black Belt. All the same like Harlem that community was decimated with vacant lots, slums, housing projects, and the like. While it may take awhile for that neighborhood to truly turn, what's likely to happen there is that it may attract non-blacks there as well. It won't merely be a black neighborhood in the future. It could be more like Hyde Park which is nearby.

Via Newsalert!

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