It’s the 1930s, and while elsewhere in the world evil people are poring over maps with plans for plunder and dreams of conquest, cartography is serving a more benign purpose in Harlem, New York City. This Night-Club Map of Harlem is a chart of the fun to be had in the cultural capital of black America, circa 1932.
At that time, this vibrant community on the northern tip of Manhattan was experiencing what came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance – a flowering of African-American literature, theatre and (jazz) music. This map is focused on the area of Harlem just north of Central Park, where much of that flowering took place.
Perhaps exemplary of that renaissance, this map was drawn by Elmer Simms Campbell (1906-1971), the first African-American cartoonist to be published nationally (in Esquire, Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker and Playboy, among others). The map faces southwest, is bounded by 110thStreet (in the top left corner), which runs along Central Park’s northern edge, and concentrates on Lenox Avenue and Seventh Avenue (“or heaven”).
Happy Black History YEAR!