These Pictures Capture The Glory That Was The Harlem Renaissance

Throughout the 1920s and into the '30s, the Harlem neighborhood of New York City was a mecca of black community, music, fashion, and art that can best be described as a cultural renaissance.

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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.

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A police officer directs traffic in Harlem, 1925.

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A street scene in Harlem, 1927.

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A group of young girls play after school, 1925.

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Lt. James Reese Europe and members of his 369th Infantry Regiment jazz band participate in a parade upon their return to the United States from Europe, 1919. The 369th was also known as the Harlem Hellfighters.

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A parade organized by the United Negro Improvement Association, 1920.

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Harlem residents queue at the voting polls in Harlem, 1926.

Michael Ochs Archives

Marcus Garvey (second from right) sits in the back of a car in a parade through Harlem, circa 1920.

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Harlem schoolboys, circa 1930.

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Worshippers at the Pentecostal Faith Church of All Nations in Harlem participate in one of their weekly baptism ceremonies, 1934.

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The newsrooms of the Amsterdam News in Harlem, 1938.

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Louis Armstrong shakes hands with EJ Harris while receiving an award from the National Swing Club of America, alongside (from left) bandleader Joe Springer, pianist Duke Ellington, and WMCA radio's Lee Grant, circa 1935.

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Customers wait in line at the Dunbar National Bank in Harlem, 1933.

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Men receive haircuts at a barbershop in Harlem, circa 1929.

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A'Lelia Walker, daughter of entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, supervises a facial in one of her mother's beauty parlors in Harlem, 1930.

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A man receives a manicure at a beauty parlor, circa 1930.

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A couple arrives at Club 66 for a party, 1935.

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The Cotton Club at night, 1937.

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Cootie Williams plays his trumpet in a crowed Harlem ballroom with Duke Ellington's band, circa 1930.

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An audience at Harlem's Cotton Club watches a performance, 1934.

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People dancing at the Savoy Ballroom, circa 1930.

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Left: Men in zoot suits at the Savoy Ballroom, circa 1930. Right: A couple in a Harlem nightclub, 1930.

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A troupe of Harlem showgirls poses in costume on stage, circa 1920.

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A lineup of waiters at the Small's Paradise nightclub, 1929.

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Audiences gather outside the Lafayette Theater during a performance of Hallelujah, 1929.