Gotham on the Brink
Harlem is a neighborhood on the north edge of Manhattan, a physically small area with massive tenement buildings each holding thousands of people. It is primarily occupied by Negros.
The population of Harlem has exploded since the Jim Crow laws were established in Southern states starting in the late 19th century. Up to the Great Depression, this vast infusion of the strongest, luckiest, smartest, and most determined black people from the South created what was called the Harlem Renascence. Although “Separate but Equal” was not part of Gotham law, the Tammany Hall-led power structure was not interested in supporting the Negro causes and the Negros were left in a state of benign neglect (which was much better than they had in the South).
Negro-owned businesses and churches dominate the area and Negro musicians are much in demand at speak-easy’s and dance halls across Gotham. But the coming of the Depression has been hard on the common man as whites have become much more competitive for pay and are viewed as more reliable and less prone to causing trouble.
Rents are higher in this part of the city than in others and the housing stock is generally of poorer quality.