History of Harlem

Essay by METALGOD42088High School, 11th gradeA, May 2006

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Harlem is one of the most unique neighborhoods in New York. It is known as a major African-American cultural and business center. It runs from 110th Street, the East River, 168th St., Amsterdam Ave, and Morningside Park.

The first European settlement in what is now called Harlem was made by Dutch settlers. It was formalized in 1658 as Nieuw Harlem or New Harlem, after the Dutch city of Harlem. The Indian trail to Harlem's lush bottomland meadows was rebuilt by the Dutch West India Company's black slaves and eventually developed into what is called the Boston Post Road. In 1664, the English took control of the New Netherland colony and anglicized the name of the town to Harlem, as we know it today. On September 16, 1776, the Battle of Harlem Heights, also called the Battle of Harlem or Battle of Harlem Plain, was fought in western Harlem around the Hollow Way (now West 125th St.),

with conflicts on Morningside Heights to the south and Harlem Heights to the north.

By the 19th century, Harlem became a place of farms, such as James Roosevelt's, east of Fifth Avenue between 110th and 125th Streets. Country estates were on the heights overlooking the Hudson to the west of Harlem. A steamboat on the East River provided service connecting the suburb of Harlem with New York. It was an hour and a half's passage, sometimes interrupted when the river froze in winter, or else by stagecoach along the Boston Post Road, which descended from McGown's Pass (now in Central Park) and skirted the salt marshes around 110th Street, to pass through Harlem. In 1831, The New York and Harlem Railroad (now Metro North) was incorporated to better link the city with the suburb, starting at a depot at East 23rd Street. By...