The East Harlem tenements in the late 19th and early part of the 20th century attracted many of the poor working class from Europe was when Harlem was Irish. The photo above describes a East Harlem tenement building at 1791 Lexington Avenue (below photo) which still had a mix of Irish and Italian neighbors during her childhood.
By that time, Italians started becoming the largest group but East Harlem’s Little Italy would eventually shift into El Barrio by the 1950′s as the area became predominantly Puerto Rican (East Harlem is now predominantly residents of Mexican descent).
The Church of the Annunciation (above photo) was founded at Convent Avenue and 131st Street by the Irish community in West Harlem that came to work on the Hudson River Railroad back in the 1850′s but only small pockets of that demographic would remain up into the mid 20th century. Over in Hamilton Heights, there existed micro-neighborhoods of Irish with the Vinegar Hill neighborhood being the most notable. Street signs and buildings still have the Vinegar Hill moniker in the mid West 130′s and Amsterdam today even though that population moved out decades ago. There’s not too much out there on Harlem’s distant and more recent Irish population but today it seems like everyone is Irish uptown no matter what background they come from.
Bob left a comment saying, “An important to point to remember as Harlem continues to evolve. No New York neighborhood was ‘always’ one thing or another, the private preserve of one group or another; but, rather, a constant evolution … resulting only in perpetual change.”