The Spirit of Harlem: A Portrait of America's Most Exciting Neighborhood

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Doubleday, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 209 pages
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The creative team behind the smash hit Crowns:Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats returns with a glorious tour of the spirit of Harlem—a collection of fifty stunning black-and-white photographs and unforgettable interviews that capture the heart and soul of one of the most famous and vibrant neighborhoods in the world.
Harlem, long known as the epicenter of black cultural life in America, is undergoing a radical change. An unprecedented infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in development capital is revitalizing the community and transforming a cityscape marred by decades of poverty. In a striking show of exuberance, upscale shops are materializing in once-abandoned buildings, new homes are popping up in vacant lots, and sheets of glass twinkle in place of grim, boarded-up windows. The economic renewal has lured a host of new people to the neighborhood—doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, and even a former president. But it has also posed a threat to many residents who have lived through the worst of times and now fear that they will lose their homes and livelihoods as boom times sweep in.
Spirit of Harlem documents this extraordinary period of transition through the words and faces of newcomers and longtime residents alike. There are reminiscences of Harlem during the 1920s through the 1960s, stories of friends and families gathering at churches, in local shops, and on the streets, and thoughts on what the future holds for the neighborhood.
Millions of tourists visit Harlem each year, and many people in the United States can trace their roots to this legendary area or have read about its remarkable history and impact on American life and culture. In more than fifty stunning portraits and essays, Spirit of Harlem brings all its splendor, rancor, drama, and glamour vividly to life.

The voices of Spirit of Harlem:

“The minute you step out your door, everything in Harlem is in your face. There is a beauty and a poetry in all that . . .” —Lana Turner, real estate broker

“Bubba and me thought Harlem was Heaven, all the lights and the sights. I asked my aunt, ‘Where do all the white people live?’” —Rev. Betty Neal

“When I came up from the subway, I said, ‘Oh man, I'm lost!’ But then I saw the Apollo and it blew me away. I said, ‘Wow, this is it! I’m in Harlem!’ I had never been to Harlem before, but I just knew I belonged here.” —Bryan Collier, author and artist

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The spirit of Harlem: a portrait of America's most exciting neighborhood

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Both of these titles explore the black experience in America, one in the particular locale of Harlem, the other on some of the 600 American streets named for Martin Luther King Jr. Wonderful photos ... Read full review


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About the author (2003)

CRAIG MARBERRY conducted the interviews and wrote the essays that appear in Spirit of Harlem. A former television reporter who has written articles for the Washington Post, Essence, and the Harlem-based newspaper the Amsterdam News, he is the owner of Info Video, an award-winning video production company. MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM is the photographer of Spirit of Harlem. He is the owner of Michael Cunningham Photography, whose clients include Coca-Cola USA and the Sara Lee Corporation, and his photographs have been featured in the New York Times, Ebony, and other national publications.

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