pondělí 28. února 2011

François Weil - A History of New York

In fact, the construction of what Chicago School sociologists called the "ghetto" was a complex phenomenon extending over three decades. Racism was not the only factor. The formation of the ghetto was also tied to the influx of Southern black migrants and European immigrants as well as the condition of the real-estate-market.
Harlem's ghetto was built in many stages. The Nieuw Haarlem of the Dutch colonists long remained a village where rich New Yorkers liked to build their country houses. After the New York & Harlem Railroad opened in 1837, it gradually became a suburb. In the early 1880s, the elevated railway connected Harlem - two lines, to the East Side, at Second and Third Avenues, the other to the West Side at Ninth Avenue. In a few years, East Harlem, south of One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, was transformed as tenement housing went up. Irish, Germans, and Italians moved in, these last creating a new "Little Italy" between One Hundred and Fifth and One Hundred and Twentieth Streets. Farther west, developers built very middle-class city houses that attracted wealthy German-American immigrants moving north from lower Manhattan.
Beginning in the mid-1890s, some Lower East Side Jews, in their turn, relocated to Harlem, where real-estate development followed the progress of the trolley lines and, a few years later, the subway line. The wealthiest settled to the west of Lexington Avenue, the poorest to the east. Harlem, with 17,000 Jews in 1900 and 100,000 ten years later, became the second largest Jewish district in New York, behind the Lower East Side.
That was also when the first African-Americans arrived. There were only a few families at the beginning of the century, but by 1910, there were 22,000 more, more then 15,000 of whom lived in a quadrilateral bordered by One Hundred and Thirty-third and One Hundred and Fortieth Streets, Park Avenue, and Lenox Avenue - that is, the northern part of Central Harlem and East Harlem. Until World War I, this constituted the black quarter, which hardly intersected with the Jewish quarter of lower Harlem at all.
The first arrivals were explained by a local real-estate market crisis, linked to an overabundance of construction projects. In a tight spot, some developers agreed to open the market to blacks in 1904-1905, notably through the intervention of a black real-estate agent, Philip A. Payton. In 1904, he founded the Afro-American Realty Company and launched the movement, even though he went bankrupt in 1908. Within a few years, more than 20,000 blacks had settled in Harlem.
About 1910, Harlem was a very diverse district, with strong, locally dominant clusters - Italians in the south-east, Jews in the south, blacks in the north. A small number of Jews still lived in the part of Harlem where blacks were the most numerous. After 1915, the balance was lost, and over the next fifteen years, Harlem was transformed into a black district, simultaneously dynamic and in decline - dynamic because the black population grew more than 120 percent between 1920 and 1930, due to the "Great Migration" of African-Americans from the South. World War I had interrupted European immigration. Afterwards, the American government's hostile immigration policy and changes that had taken place in Europe combined to prevent the return of the great migratory waves of Jewish and Italian immigrants. The massive arrival of blacks brought about major demographic changes in Harlem.
As for Harlem's decline, that had another explanation. The establishment of a war economy in 1917 redirected all resources. Real-estate development programs were suspended, and this came at a time of heavy demand, since the war industries needed manpower. Manhattan experienced unexpected growth, even if New York in general and Harlem in particular were hit by a real-estate crisis since supply was inadequate. Property owners could keep increasing rents and stop maintaining their buildings, which began to deteriorate.
Beginning in 1921, the adoption of fiscal incentive measures led to renewed construction in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. As white New Yorkers saw their standard of living improve and Harlem properties deteriorate, they gradually left the district. In a few years, Jewish Harlem lost its inhabitants and welcomed increasing number of black residents, whose arrival no doubt accelerated the departure of the remaining Jews. As for the blacks, Harlem was the only neighborhood open to them because of the deep-rooted prejudices they faced everywhere else. Thus property owners could demand high rents, which led to overcrowding, and then further decline in living conditions: a vicious spiral that completely disrupted Harlem.

Z poslední návštěvy New Yorku jsem si přivezla tuhle knížku. Četla jsem ji už v autobuse, jen chvíli poté, co jsme projeli skutečným Harlemem, ze kterého mě mrazilo, i když už se věci od dob ukázky hodně změnily. A protože na New York teď myslím téměř pořád (snad o tom někdy napíšu víc, o hře a hádankách a divadlu) a protože únor je "Black history month", opsala jsem vám dnes obsáhlou ukázku, ať si taky počtete, knížka bude nejspíš pro většinu nedostupná..

0 komentářů: