The Tenants of East Harlem
University of California Press, 2006 - 243 pages
Rich with the textures and rhythms of street life, The Tenants of East Harlem is an absorbing and unconventional biography of a neighborhood told through the life stories of seven residents whose experiences there span nearly a century. Modeled on the ethnic distinctions that divide the community, the book portrays the old guard of East Harlem: Pete, one of the last Italian holdouts; Jos , a Puerto Rican; and Lucille, an African American. Side by side with these representatives of a century of ethnic succession are the newcomers: Maria, an undocumented Mexican; Mohamed, a West African entrepreneur; Si Zhi, a Chinese immigrant and landlord; and, finally, the author himself, a reluctant beneficiary of urban renewal. Russell Leigh Sharman deftly weaves these oral histories together with fine-grained ethnographic observations and urban history to examine the ways that immigration, housing, ethnic change, gentrification, race, class, and gender have affected the neighborhood over time. Providing unique access to the nuances of inner-city life, The Tenants of East Harlem shows how roots sink so quickly in a community that has always hosted the transient, how new immigrants are challenging the claims of the old, and how that cycle is threatened as never before by the specter of gentrification.
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106th Street 99-cent store African Americans apartment arrived Barrio block bodegas border building Cecilia changes China Chinese Church conﬂict crack cocaine Cuautla Cultural daughter decade Delila difﬁcult door East Harlem economic Eduardo ethnic father Fifth Avenue ﬁght ﬁgure ﬁll ﬁnd ﬁrst ﬁve ﬂoor Franklin Plaza friends gentriﬁcation Guinea high school housing projects immigrants Italian Harlem Jefferson Josť Josť’s kids labor Latinos living Lucille Lucille’s Manhattan Maria ment Mexican Mexico migration Mohamed Mohamed’s mother moved neighborhood neighbors ofﬁce parents Park percent Pete Pete’s Pleasant Avenue proﬁt public housing Puerto Rican real estate remembers residents says Second Avenue Shanghai Sharon Si Zhi sidewalk Sierra Leone social Spanish Harlem story tenants tenements Third Avenue Tito Puente undocumented United University Press UPACA Gardens Upper East Side urban West Africans York City Young Lords Zhi’s