Race and Real Estate

Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem, 1890-1920

Kevin McGruder

Columbia University Press

Race and Real Estate

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Pub Date: April 2017

ISBN: 9780231169158

296 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.00£20.95

Pub Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780231169141

296 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $55.00£45.95

Pub Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780231539258

296 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $54.99£45.95

Race and Real Estate

Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem, 1890-1920

Kevin McGruder

Columbia University Press

Through the lens of real estate transactions from 1890 to 1920, Kevin McGruder offers an innovative perspective on Harlem's history and reveals the complex interactions between whites and African Americans at a critical time of migration and development. During these decades Harlem saw a dramatic increase in its African American population, and although most histories speak only of the white residents who met these newcomers with hostility, this book uncovers a range of reactions.

Although some white Harlem residents used racially restrictive real estate practices to inhibit the influx of African Americans into the neighborhood, others believed African Americans had a right to settle in a place they could afford and helped facilitate sales. These years saw Harlem change not into a "ghetto," as many histories portray, but into a community that became a symbol of the possibilities and challenges black populations faced across the nation.

This book also introduces alternative reasons behind African Americans' migration to Harlem, showing that they came not to escape poverty but to establish a lasting community. Owning real estate was an essential part of this plan, along with building churches, erecting youth-serving facilities, and gaining power in public office. In providing a fuller, more nuanced history of Harlem, McGruder adds greater depth in understanding its development and identity as both an African American and a biracial community.
In his autobiography, Malcolm X admitted that 'one of my biggest surprises' was that 'Harlem hadn't always been a community of Negroes.' If that surprises you too then you must read this book. Kevin McGruder takes us back in time to a Harlem on the cusp of dramatic change. He shows us uptown Manhattan before Harlem was in vogue. With incredible research and fascinating characters, Race and Real Estate unveils the complicated social and business processes that changed Harlem from an interracial neighborhood into the most recognizable black community in the world. Brian Purnell, Bowdoin College
Kevin McGruder’s meticulous study shows us exactly how black migrants to Harlem between 1890 and 1920 created a community. His analysis of the role of black real estate agents and black churches in ‘opening’ Harlem to black residents is fascinating, and his attention to the ways that ethnicity structured white responses to the movement of blacks to white neighborhoods is nuanced and insightful. Beryl Satter, Rutgers University
[A] fact-filled book. . . enlivened by personal accounts. Sam Roberts, The New York Times
[Race and Real Estate] challenges the standard saga of the rise of black urban communities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thoroughly researched, the book is an extremely useful reinterpretation of the subject. . . . Recommended. Choice
McGruder has written a good book and an important revision that should be read alongside the classic texts of 'ghetto formation.' Nathan Cardon, H-SHGAPE
[A] fine work of historical scholarship and incisive interventions in the history of Harlem... [McGruder's] care for the place and its people shines through in [his] meticulous research and forceful arguments. David Huyssen, American Historical Review
[Race and Real Estate] offers unique perspectives on Harlem’s history and reveals the complex interactions between whites and African Americans at a critical time of migration and development. The New York History Blog
This book is a valuable contribution to the history of Harlem in that it provides detail and nuance to the story of the development of Harlem as a black community, painting a more detailed picture that was available before. James M. Lloyd, Journal of Historical Geography
Race and Real Estate makes a contribution to and provides a nuanced interpretation of New York and African American histories. LaShawn D. Harris, Journal of American Ethnic History
Race and Real Estate is a valuable study that provides a compelling discussion about how and why urban neighborhoods change. . . . The originality of the research design and the importance of its conclusions indicate that Race and Real Estate is a valuable and unique work of scholarship that adds considerably to the scholarly literature on New York City specifically, and to urban history more generally. Michael P. Marino, Journal of Urban History
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Black and White New Yorkers
2. The End of the African American Welcome in Harlem
3. From Eviction to Containment
4. The Battle for Church Properties
5. African American Youth in Harlem
6. Real Estate and Politics
7. The Growth in Property Ownership by African Americans in Harlem
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Read the introduction:

About the Author

Kevin McGruder, assistant professor of history at Antioch College, studies African American institutions, urban history, and gay and lesbian history. He earned an M.B.A. in real estate finance from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in U.S. history from City University of New York.