Forever Beautiful: Harlem in the 1970s
Harlem is a place like no other. It’s a town rich in culture and I’m fortunate enough to have been born and raised here.
These photos taken by Jack Garfalo for Paris Match in 1970 shows Harlem way before 8th avenue was deemed “Restaurant Row” and closer to the Harlem Riot of 1964. During the late 1960s and early 1970s Harlem had seen some of it’s worst times historically. The drug addiction rate in Harlem was 10 times the average rate of NYC and many middle class Harlemites moved out to other boroughs and suburbs for better schools and safer streets.
The New York Times had this to say about Harlem: “Since 1970, an exodus of residents has left behind the poor, the uneducated, the unemployed. Nearly two-thirds of the households have incomes below $10,000 a year. In a community with one of the highest crime rates in the city, garbage-strewn vacant lots and tumbledown tenements, many of them abandoned and sealed, contribute to the sense of danger and desolation that pervades much of the area.”
I must admit that Harlem in the 1970s was a very different Harlem than what I grew up in but it certainly was just a beautiful and rich in culture then as it is now.
I’ve always felt a sense of pride being from Harlem as if we’re cut from a different cloth. You can never keep a Harlemite down and these pictures are sheer proof of that. Sure in these photos she hadn’t yet traded in her abandoned buildings and scaffolding for swanky cafe joints and national chains, but do you see the people? Black, Bold and Beautiful. Through poverty, drugs, and crimes their spirits continued to shine. Check out this amazing photo’s originally featured on The Retronaut on Mashable.