Harlem, a section of Manhattan in New York City. It is bounded on the north and northeast by the Harlem River; on the east by the East River; on the south by 110th Street; and on the west by Eighth Avenue. Harlem has long contained one of the largest urban concentrations of blacks in the United States. The area has several cultural attractions including the Harlem Dance Theater and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Harlem was founded by the Dutch in 1658 as Nieuw Haarlem. During the Revolutionary War, Washington's troops repulsed a British attack here, in the Battle of Harlem Heights (1776). The area was rural until the 1800's. When transportation to other parts of Manhattan improved, it became a fashionable residential district.
Large numbers of blacks settled here after World War I and the area was a thriving center for black American culture during the 1920's. Many Hispanics came to Harlem after World War II, and a section in the east and southeast became known as Spanish Harlem. Harlem has experienced a variety of urban problems since the 1930's, including congestion and rising crime. During the 1980's and 1990's parts of Harlem were redeveloped.