Swgs 6208 – Community Assessment Harlem

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Swgs 6208 – Community Assessment Harlem

Community Assessment – East Harlem

Fordham University

SWGS 6208

Jalana Harris

November 5, 2017


The purpose of this paper is to provide a neighborhood assessment of East Harlem, NY (USA), a primarily low-income neighborhood with a high proportion of foreign-born residents and situated in a global metropolitan area of New York City.  Although it is located only a couple of miles from New York City’s Midtown a world financial hub and extremely wealthy area, East Harlem has been afflicted by a fair number of social problems and it is among the poorest neighborhoods of the City.  However, in the past decade, East Harlem has experienced a wave of revitalization and it is becoming an increasingly attractive place to live, as the real estate market is booming, new cafes and restaurants are opening in big numbers and there is an increasingly appreciated art scene.  The downside of this phenomenon is the original residents face the threat of displacement due to the increasing rents and it is weakening its status as a Latin culture stronghold, in which a historically strong Hispanic community, which constitute the majority of the population, is slowly disappearing giving way to new residents, the so-called gentrifies who are able to afford the current rent prices.  I will provide, demographics, housing, social and economic conditions, income and wealth distribution, health and welfare systems, educational facilities as well as quality of education, social control, and social networks.

Demographics & History

East Harlem also known under the names of “Spanish Harlem” and “el Barrio”, is a neighborhood situated in northeastern Manhattan (New York City, USA) and it covers the Community District 11 (DCP 2016).  According to the 2010-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the population amounts to 120,603.  As with many neighborhoods in the city East Harlem is characterized by a very diverse demographic situation, with (46.1%) of the population defining itself as Hispanic (hence the names), (35.4%) as African-American and the rest as Caucasian (28.4%) and Asian (7.4%).  It is home to one of the largest Puerto Rican community in the United States (Ingenito, 2016), who constitute roughly 23.4% of the total population of the neighborhood.  The foreign-born population amounts to 25.9%.

Harlem’s history is represented by the construction by Irish immigrants of a railway line connecting this neighborhood with the rest of Manhattan, in 1837 and because of this easier means of transportation, many people desiring to live close to the center of New York City decided to move here, especially German and Irish immigrants (Wood, 2011).  East Harlem’s demographic growth continued at a fast pace, but the different ethnic communities did not live in peace with each other.  The Human Ecology brought competition and segregation and the social conflicts grew with each ethnic group that arrived (Bell, 2010).  

The first half of the 20th century brought in the first wave of Puerto Rican immigrants, because in 1917 they were granted American citizenship (Green, 2016).  Given the legal advantage they have had over the other immigrant populations to reside in the United States, their community grew very quickly in only a few years, especially between 116th and 145th Street, thus replacing the Italians and other immigrant communities and, by the 1940’s, East Harlem was known as “Spanish Harlem”, which it still holds today (Green, 2016).