A different Harlem existed during the roaring twenties leading up to the Great Depression, like this Harlem Shack, on 5th Avenue and 140th Street, in 1927.During the same time actress Mae West was on the Broadway Vaudeville circuit creating plays based on Harlem places like this she called “creep joints”.
In the article Harlem Knocks she describes the people and places places of people who:
… worked the streets till they made enough for a few drinks and then they parked around the Fifth Avenue creep joints, waiting for downtown explorers that needed a “steer” to dope or wanted to be led to a “circus” where women resorted to strange practices to gratify morbid curiosity…
Taken from her play titled The Constant Sinner in 1931.
Who would guess that almost 50 years later we would have the Harlem we know and love today.
Get more Harlem history here.