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At the start of the 20th century, the Harlem neighborhood of New York City was home to a largely black middle-class community that thrived following a period known as the Great Migration, when many black families left the oppressive South for new beginnings.
In the years that followed marked the era of the Harlem Renaissance, which saw a flourishing of art, music, dance, poetry, entrepreneurship, and fashion that set the foundation for black culture in America today. Artists who called Harlem their home, such as Augusta Savage and Aaron Douglas, developed a new visual lexicon for black culture, while writers and poets such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Zora Neale Hurston used language to help define the realities of the black American experience. At night, venues such as the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom packed the dance floor with groundbreaking new musicians like Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, and Cab Calloway.
These pictures capture the sights and scenes of Harlem during this quintessential time of American history.