THE RISE AND FALL OF HARLEM: THE CONSPIRACY TO RETAKE HARLEM. FACT OR FICTION? PT 4

Let’s
jump for a second from the 1700’s to the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s when
blacks began to migrate from the south to the north, (Chicago, Philadelphia,
Detroit, and Baltimore, also to the west and the Midwest) but in particular
Harlem.

Now prior to the mass migration of blacks from
the south (between the years of 1910-1930) see
Hahn, Steven. A Nation Under Our Feet
(2003)
there was already the presence of a group of individuals that call themselves
Jews. (See Jeffery Gurock
: when Harlem was Jewish. 1870-1930 ) As this article or blog
continues we will see the importance of the European Jews and its relationship
(or secret relationship) with blacks in America. And whether or not they are or
were the primary(note: this writer used the word “primary” because this writer
is not going to advocate that the Jews or anyone else is the sole 100% reason
why black people do not control Harlem)  cause of the decline of Harlem. And did they
conspire to keep Harlem out of the hands of black people.

The
Jewish presence in New York City goes back to the 17th century. (According
to Joyce gold she stated the following “Harlem was once the third largest Jewish settlement in the
world, after Warsaw and the Lower East Side
.”   She teaches
New York history at New York University and the New School for Social Research)
The
European Jew specialized as auctioneers, bounty hunters, plantation owners,
they insured the slave vessels and other forms of business, but in particular they
mastered peddling, which became one of his most lucrative occupations. (Jews
grew from peddling on the streets to forming major department stores like Macys,
Gimbles, Blumstein’s, sears and etc) By 1915 one out of every four New Yorker
was a Jew and Jews represented between 8 and 10 percent of the population of
other urban centers like Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore.

But
aside from the stated above they also had a prime stake in real estate. German Jews
had long been established in the financial center of New York. By the time of
the post civil war they had amassed such wealth that they could offer backing
to the governments of both the union and the confederacy. (See avraham barkai:
branching out and finance the North American continent) By the 1900’s New York
City listed 60 Jewish millionaires. And the root of German Jewish financial
backing was clear, of 52 banking institutions in Berlin at the beginning of the
19th century, 30 were Jewish. (Another subject another time)

The
purpose of the previous two paragraphs is to (1) establish the presence of the
Jews in New York City, in particular Harlem and (2) to establish their
financial power in New York and in Harlem. Now let’s look at another side of
the Jewish / black relationship and how it relates to the social and economic
condition of Harlem.

 

Fyodor
Dostoyevsky (a Russian novelist 1821-1881, wrote “the diary of a writer”)
stated the following “they have already leaped en masse upon the millions of
liberated negroes and have already taken a grip upon them in their, the Jews,
own way by means of their everlasting gold pursuit and by taking advantage of
the inexperienced and vices of the exploited tribe…… the negroes are a treasure
for the Jews”

According
to Stuart Rockoff of the institute of southern Jewish life he stated the
following “the rural south started its decline around the time when African
Americans, the majority of whom had worked as agricultural laborers, began
migrating to seek industrial jobs in northern cities like Chicago (and New York)
because of their migration (black people) economic opportunity for Jewish
merchants, who had relied on African American as customers, diminished too, and
so the Jews started migrating to big cities as well” In 1898 Blumstein’s
department store opened up on 125st (75% of Blumstein’s sales were to African Americans but the company
refused to employ them as clerks or cashiers)

So
according to the above two paragraphs, the Jews depended on the patronage of
the black man and women. (Although he didn’t see fit to hire them as employees)
There economic survival depended on the black consumer, and you know there is a
thin line between a consumer and a producer. If black people become producers
and supported only one another? Then where would that leave the Jew?

Now as the black presence began to increase,
whites declined to rent to blacks or sell them their properties. If they did
rent to a black family they charged the black family nearly triple versus what
white people were paying. For example: a one room apartment rented to whites
for $40 a month, but the same one room apartment rented for $100-125 a month.

In or around 1901 there was a black real
estate entrepreneur by the name of Phillip Payton JR who’s company name was
afro-American realty company.  His
company, the Afro-American Realty Company, was almost single-handedly
responsible for migration of blacks from their previous neighborhoods,the Tenderloin, San Juan Hill (now the
site of Lincoln Center), Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village and Hell’s Kitchen
in the west 40s and 50s] The
move to northern Manhattan was driven in part by fears that anti-black riots
such as those that had occurred in the Tenderloin in 1900] and in San Juan Hill in 1905 might recur.

Between
1907 and 1915, some white residents of Harlem resisted the neighborhood’s
change, especially once the swelling black population pressed west of Lenox
Avenue which served as an informal color line until the early 1920s Some made
pacts not to sell to or rent to blacks.(that sounds like a conspiracy to me)  Others tried to buy property and evict black
tenants, but the Afro-American Realty Company retaliated by buying other
property and evicting whites. They also attempted to convince banks to deny
mortgages to black buyers, but soon gave up.

 

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