Saturday, June 6, 2015

Greenwich Village: “Little Africa”

“In the earliest days the Negro population of New York lived, naturally, in and about the city at the tip of Manhattan Island. In the middle of the last century they lived mainly in the vicinity of Lispenard, Broome, and Spring streets. When Washington Square was the centre of fashionable life, large numbers of Negroes engaged in domestic service in the homes of the rich lived in a fringe of nests to the west and south of the square. As late as 1880 the major portion of the Negro population of the city lived in Sullivan, Bleecker, Thompson, Carmine, and Grove streets, Minetta Lane, and adjacent streets. It is curious to see that some of these nests still persist. Scattered through Greenwich Village and “Little Italy,” small groups of Negroes may be found who have never lived in any other part of the city. Negro New York has passed on and left them stranded and isolated. They are vestiges of a generation long gone by. They appear to be content, however, and probably they view with some scorn the new and rather raw Harlem centre.”