Harlem, once considered the epicenter of the black universe, was an African-American enclave, uptown from affluent Manhattan. The northern edge of Central Park along 110th street sets Harlem apart from the Caucasian world. Harlem had a history and a flavor all its own. A unique story smelted in the fiery ovens of New York's long nurtured ethnic and racial hostilities.>>
Mere minutes from midtown, Harlem had been, before the 1920's, an ideal location for middle class whites looking to settle in the city. With the arrival of black residents, all that changed.>>
The cross grid of streets, avenues, and boulevards were laid out in perfect symmetry. Shattered among the tenements, brownstones and public housing, spacious parks and riverside spaces provided a refuge from the sweltering heat.>>
Harlem was undulating breezes stirring the trees along its terraces and sweeping down to make cool the blistering tenements below. It was screeching gulls along the River's edge where cobblestones pear through sections of asphalt as a reminder of another time. Where the joyous screams of elated children exploded out into the streets at recess. >>
It is seas of Baptist churches riding on waves of musical glory. Where soulful gospel rhythms and hymns twisted and stretched the fabric of both time and space. Exploding phantasms of art and culture draped the somber gray and dreary brick walls of dirty, old rundown buildings.>>
Harlem displayed an emblematic sadness, endemic to all impoverished communities. It was witnessed in the faces of its elderly who pear out of grimy windows, their sad and jaundice eyes casting transcending stares out over a wasteland of dreams deferred. >>
Steadily moving forward in the endless parades of tears and laughter, joys and pains, growths and setbacks, the people of Harlem marched in procession to the rhythm of single African drum, which grew more and more faint with each passing step.>>
Banter and small talk in the barbershops and beauty parlors provided the penultimate grapevine of community life and cultural folklore. The streets teemed with parentless and village-less children seeking refuge from their pains in the arms of a white malevolent mother. >>
Vying for the attention of the very same society that scorned them. Atrophy gnawed away at its base and the ravenous appetite of a hungry material god feasted upon its bounty and thwarted the growth of its harvest seeds. The cracked and potted sidewalks stained with the transparent tears of bereaved mothers.>>
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Once the center of the African imagination and creativity and a beacon of renaissance light, suggesting a path of return for those groping in the dark emptiness of an alien culture, Harlem had since lost most of its magic. >>
The spirits of the Duke, Dizzy and Ella had long since faded from the landscape. The echoes of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and James Baldwin heard faintly in the wind>>