Capturing the ‘Spirit of Harlem’ (Photos)

This bustling borough of New York City is home to some of America’s most groundbreaking movements, from civil rights to the Jazz Age. Take a photo tour of the neighborhood.



"In the Spirit of Harlem"

Harlem holds a special place in American political and cultural history. The bustling New York City neighborhood was a cornerstone for both the civil-rights movement and the Harlem Renaissance, the explosion of artistic expression that propelled groundbreaking forms of music, literature, art, and theater. Spend just one day wandering the streets where Malcolm X, Billie Holiday, and Zora Neale Hurston once called home and you will experience the awe-inspiring architecture of an old-world Dutch colony, the smell of Southern-style cooking, and the sounds of jazz and gospel that sometimes fill the streets. Tracking from the founding days and weaving through history to the present, Assouline books captures the essence of a truly remarkable place in its new publication, In the Spirit of Harlem by Naomi Fertitta, out Feb. 25.

Here, a photo (circa 1970) of the renowned Cotton Club, where Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole once performed.

Alan Schein Photography/Corbis

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcolm X boulevards

Manhattan, New York City, New York State, USA --- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Street Sign in Harlem --- Image by © Alan Schein Photography/Corbis


The Apollo Theatre

The marquee advertises Billy Eckstine, Redd Foxx, and Coles & Atkins on Aug. 19, 1964.


Lenox Avenue

Also named Malcolm X Boulevard, this major thoroughfare is lined with nightlife hotspots and a plethora of shopping.


Aug. 19, 1935

Pedestrians stroll down a sidewalk on a summer day.


Sept. 2, 1999

Traffic in front of the Apollo Theater.


April 17, 1936

American blues singer Gladys Bentley (1907-1960) poses with bandleader Willie Bryant (1908-1964) outside the Apollo Theater, where posters advertise a performance by Bryant and his band.


Satchel Paige

Baseball player Satchel Paige, looking dapper, lighting his cigarette while sitting on front bumper of large car.

Paul Aresu

The bar at Red Rooster

Located in the heart of Harlem, the Red Rooster is a local and tourist favorite serving Southern-inspired comfort foods celebrating the heritage of American cuisine.

Paul Aresu

Harlem brownstones

Rows of historic and charming brownstones line the streets of Harlem.