A Renewed Harlem. but a Renaissance?

By Smith, Stacey Vanek | The Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Renewed Harlem. but a Renaissance?


Smith, Stacey Vanek, The Christian Science Monitor


In a fiery speech at the A.M.E Zion Church in Harlem, Frederick Douglass grapples with the country's transition from slavery and with his own transition from illiterate servant to intellectual trailblazer.

Dressed in a black tailored suit, the actor portraying Douglass grips the edge of a pew, looks out at the audience, and says, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

Outside the church's walls, change is also in the air. With the help of the arts, Harlem is changing.

"Harlem is the new Greenwich Village," says Richard Haase, the play's writer and director. "People are rediscovering it. It is what I remember the Village being in the '70s - a little edgy with an element of danger, but exciting, full of life and soul. I wouldn't have produced this play anywhere else."

It is being dubbed a second Harlem Renaissance - a return to the Harlem of the 1920s and '30s, when jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington turned the neighborhood into one of the most exciting, creative centers in the world.

The Great Depression plunged the district into a decline that lasted until the early 1990s, when nearly two-thirds of Harlem's elegant brownstones stood empty.

In the past few years, fueled by a real-estate boom and the $300 million budget of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), a community-development organization, the arts as well as the neighborhood have been revived. Some 6,000 new jobs, half of which are slated to be in the arts and entertainment industry, are expected by 2005, according to a UMEZ-commissioned study.

Though critics say the optimistic tidings are premature, one thing is for sure: The art world has once again turned its attention to Harlem.

In addition to new businesses lining 125th street, the "main street" of Harlem, there are signs of new life in the neighborhood's traditional venues.

The jazz mecca, Lenox Lounge, now serves soul food to patrons while they soak in old-world tunes. And a rapidly expanding Studio Museum recently lured directors from New York's Whitney and Metropolitan museums.

Ali Evans, the museum's public relations manager, says that at a time when other museums around the US are struggling to stay afloat, the Studio Museum is thriving as never before.

"Major papers and magazines are focusing on the museum," she says, adding that attendance has jumped 40 percent in two years, and fund-raising events have enjoyed record-breaking attendance. "The life of the museum has really grown," she says. "The appreciation level has increased so much."

A freshly renovated Apollo Theater recently hosted a sold-out Royal Shakespeare Company production of "Midnight's Children," and musical giants Annie Lennox and Erykah Badu have chosen the venue for concerts.

"There is something in the air that people are grabbing at," says New York City Councilman Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem. "People are exploring their art and fulfilling that need, that indescribable need, uptown," he says.

Audiences are responding. The Classical Theatre of Harlem's recent production of Jean Genet's play, "The Blacks: A Clown Show," sold out and extended its run.

"Sixty percent of the audience was not from the neighborhood," says Brett Singer, who publicized the production. "There was a Park Avenue couple in their 70s who attended the show. Not only had they never seen a show in Harlem, they'd never been to Harlem before."

For some businesses, however, the development and media attention seem overpowering and ill-founded.

Christian Haye, who has owned The Project art gallery in Harlem for five years, is moving his gallery downtown.

He says many new galleries are flocking to the neighborhood because it is considered hip, only to close soon thereafter.

Though Mr. Haye asserts that serious collectors will go anywhere to find the pieces they want, he says many new galleries do not have great work, and they don't benefit from the foot traffic they would get in neighborhoods such as Chelsea and Soho.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Renewed Harlem. but a Renaissance?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.