With its gleaming shopping centers and refurbished row houses, today’s Harlem bears little resemblance to the neighborhood of the midcentury urban crisis. In The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem, first published in 2017 by Harvard University Press, Brian D. Goldstein traces Harlem’s Second Renaissance to a surprising source: the radical social movements of the 1960s that resisted city officials and fought to give Harlemites control of their own destiny. Inspired by the civil rights movement, young activists envisioned a Harlem built by and for its low-income, predominantly African American population. In the succeeding decades, however, the community-based organizations they founded came to pursue a very different goal: a neighborhood with national retailers and increasingly affluent residents.
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