Old Pictures of Harlem

Old Pictures of Harlem

Harlem is a special place for so many, filled with history at every turn. 

Sadly, with gentrification and developers, a lot of that history is disappearing and its fixture as an important historical Black community is slipping away. 

Here are some old  images of Harlem courtesy of the New York Public library’s Digital Collections. These images are a window into one the world’s most iconic neighborhoods. 

With over 700,000 historical images digitized, the digital collection had become an indispensable tool for historians and pretty much anyone into peeping in on the past. 

Bird’s eye view of West 125th Street, Harlem, looking west from Seventh Avenue, 1943/Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1943.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Group of Harlem youths recruited as street sweepers on 117th Street, ca. 1940s” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1940 – 1949.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Woman crossing street in Harlem at West 125th Street and Eighth Avenue, 1939” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1939.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Park Avenue Market being visited by families, in East Harlem” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1960 – 1969.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Harlem residents in front of shop listening to the radio, 1930s” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1930 – 1939.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Harlem newspaper stand, 1939” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1939.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Park Avenue Market – Customers at grape stand, East Harlem” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1940 – 1959.



Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. “Negroes share in law enforcement. Negro policemen, Harlem, New York City” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1929.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. “There are few playgrounds in Harlem. Negro children must play on the streets” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1929.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. “A Negro doll factory in Harlem which provides colored dolls for Negro children” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1929.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Author Langston Hughes [far left] with [left to right:] Charles S. Johnson; E. Franklin Frazier; Rudolph Fisher and Hubert T. Delaney, on the roof of 580 St. Nicholas Avenue, Harlem, on the occasion of a party in Hughes’ honor, 1924.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1924.




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