A Look Back at the Harlem Renaissance

Harlem is one of the most iconic neighborhoods of New York City. It has been the home to groundbreaking music, dance, poetry and many other arts. While it has been a settled area since the 17th Century, it really came into prominence in the early 20th Century in a period known as the Harlem Renaissance.


Harlem was originally a Dutch settlement that became a farming community. In subsequent years, it was a scene of battles of the American Revolution and was a community that was a place to live while working in downtown New York City. But Harlem became an area that saw an increase in African-American population in the early 1900's.


At the end of World War I, the population of the United States were overjoyed at the prospect of the war ending and getting back to a normal life. This euphoria in Harlem resulted in a period of creative exploration. During this period artists such as Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, and others came into prominence. People also discovered new artists at the legendary Cotton Club.


The Harlem Renaissance enjoyed popularity until the United States enacted Prohibition, where it was illegal to posses and consume alcoholic beverages. This curtailed many venues where people could enjoy entertainment and alcohol. While the arts continued, it essentially brought an end to the period of time known as the Harlem Renaissance.