Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The New Face of Harlem

Harlem has undergone many changes in the past few years. The region, once home to African-American legends like Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Langston Hughes, was the setting of the intellectual and cultural Harlem Renaissance Movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, Harlem's prominent African-American population appears to be diminishing; the rapid increase of rent, development of high-priced luxury condos, and the difficulty to survive as a small business all attribute to the dramatic new look of Harlem World. In one word, gentrification.

Columbia University, located on 116th and Broadway, is the owner of most of the property on Broadway Avenue. Yesterday the university's latest plan to expand into West Harlem was met by hostile protests from neighborhood activists, preservationists, and affordable housing advocates. Columbia's plan to construct a 17-acre arts, business and science campus in Manhattanville was approved by The City Planning Commission. The university is considering the use of eminent domain, which allows an organization to take over public property for private use.

So where does that leave residents and small businesses? Keep watching - I guarantee that in a few years, Harlem will be much...lighter.

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