I took this photo last Sunday and thought I would share. From the view from my window right now it looks like it should be a beautiful if warm day. Today marks the start of Harlem Week. Apparently this event is also called A Great Day in Harlem, after the Art Kane photograph taken sixty years ago this August. The photo is actually called Harlem 58. If you have never seen it take a look at this Daily News article from a few years back.
When this photo was taken the Harlem Renaissance was still within living memory. Many of the musicians profiled probably played in Paris in this years just after the Great War. By the late 1950s New York City was already beginning its post-industrial decline, even if that was not readily apparent at the time. From the Daily News: “The world represented by those 57 men and women — a world of late-night clubs, of gents in suits and hats and ladies in gloves, of martinis and Lucky Strikes — was already vanishing in the rear-view mirror of popular culture.” It all sounds good to me, except for the martinis and Lucky Strikes. I remember when the documentary about the film shoot came out in the mid-1990s and even that seems like five eras ago. Many of the principals, like Dizzy Gillespie, were still alive to participate in the film. It is hard to believe Sonny Rollins and Benny Golson are the only two who remain.
Harlem Week began as Harlem Day in 1974. Someone was telling me that this event used to be more anarchic back in the wild years of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, with people sleeping overnight on benches in Riverside Park and that type of thing. The beauty of this city is that it is constantly reinventing itself. Today Harlem Week stretches a month, through August 25 this year. Come to Harlem this Summer of 2018 and experience it for yourself.