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August 29, 2020

30 Fascinating Vintage Photos Capture Everyday Life in Harlem in the 1940s

Harlem is a large neighborhood in the northern section of the New York City borough of Manhattan. Since the 1920s Harlem has been known as a major African-American residential cultural and business center.

During the early 1940s African Americans were fleeing from The South hoping for a better life in The North but when they got there it wasn’t what they had expected. In The North they were still treated with racism. When they went to town they would always have to wait until everyone passed by and then they could walk on the street, in some way African Americans were still suffering.

Take a look back at the neighborhood in the 1940s through 30 fascinating vintage black-and-white photographs below:

A double wedding in Harlem, 1940s. (Bettmann)

Couples dancing at Savoy Jazz Club, 1940s. (Bettmann)

Arm wrestling, 1940. (Andreas Feininger)

Easter Sunday, 1940. (Weegee)

A short man, wearing a zoot suit, stands on a chair to get a better view of the dance floor at the Savoy Ballroom, 1940s. (FPG)
1940. (Andreas Feininger)

Ella Fitzgerald singing at a night club, 1940s. (Bettmann)

Baseball player Satchel Paige, lighting his cigarette while sitting on the front bumper of a large car, 1941. (George Strock)

A couple kissing in the hallway, 1942. (John Florea)

A group of affluent men standing on the street at night, 1942. (John Florea)

Patrons enjoying a club, 1942. (John Florea)

1942. (National Archive)

Two women leaving the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on Easter Sunday, 1943. (Weegee)

A newsboy standing by his newsstand holding a magazine, 1943. (Gordon Parks)

1943. (Gordon Parks)

A woman and her dog look out from their open window, 1943. (Gordon Parks)

Two Marines walk down a street, 1943. (Roger Smith)

A vendor showing his wares at a bookstall on 125th Street, 1943. (CORBIS)

A young man falls asleep in a chair, 1945. (Weegee)

Easter Sunday, 1947. (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

Dancing at the Savoy Ballroom, 1947. (Graphic House)

Swing dancing at the Savoy Ballroom, 1947. (Archive Photos)

1947. (Al Fenn)

Young girls play beside a flooded street drain, 1947. (Fred Stein)

A young girl named 'Rebecca' and her family, 1947. (Morris Engel)

1948. (Gordon Parks)

1948. (Gordon Parks)

A tenement block, 1948. (Erika Stone)

A man takes a nap against a handcart, 1948. (Erika Stone)

Parade participants marching, 1949. (Fred Stein)

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