Harlem is a large neighborhood within the northern section of the New York City borough of Manhattan. Since the 1920s, Harlem has been known as a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Harlem's history has been defined by a series of economic boom-and-bust cycles, with significant population shifts accompanying each cycle.

African-American residents began to arrive en masse in 1905, with numbers fed by the Great Migration. In the 1920s and 1930s, Central and West Harlem were the focus of the "Harlem Renaissance", an outpouring of artistic work without precedent in the American black community. However, with job losses in the time of the Great Depression and the deindustrialization of New York City after World War II, rates of crime and poverty increased significantly. Harlem's black population peaked in the 1950s. In 2008, the Census found that for the first time since the 1930s Harlem's population was no longer a majority black, with their share being 4 in 10 residents.

Since New York City's revival in the late 20th century, Harlem has been experiencing gentrification. Despite this influx of new wealth, much of the population must rely on income support—with West, Central, and East Harlem respectively at 34.9%, 43.3%, and 46.5% of the population.

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