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Harlem: From American Revolution to Jim Crow

By Phin Upham

The area known as “Haarlem” was inhabited at first by native Manhattans and Lenape people. The area was home to several nomadic tribes, each taking advantage of the ample hunting grounds nestled in the Haarlem flatlands. When the Dutch settled in the area, they built settlements there and the town grew.

The American Revolution, however, put a wrench in the works of that growth. The British fought hard to secure parts of New York, often burning forts and towns to the ground as they passed. Haarlem took a long time to rebuild, and it came with the name change to what we know today.

The 18th century was prosperous for Harlem and its citizens. Harlem became a refugee for displaced New Yorkers as a result of the Revolutionary War, but the creation of the Metro-North Railroad and the elevated train lines gave the Jewish and Italian immigrants who settled there hope for the future.

Harlem became connected to the downtown and midtown areas, so residents were able to quickly move to a job site all over the city. Work was fairly plentiful.

The North also prospered heavily from the Jim Crow laws of the southern states. The culture of violence in the south was a far cry from the economic prosperity promised in places like Harlem. Those black Americans found work in factories during World War I, when the white workers who would normally have manned those jobs had gone off to fight.

About the Author: Phin Uphamis an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.

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