Book Review: Harlem Street Portraits

Click for a larger image of Harlem Street Portraits

by Harvey Stein, Herb Boyd, and Miss Rosen

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $45.00
    Format: Hardcover, 192 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9780764344879
    Imprint: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
    Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
    Parent Company: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
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    Read a Description of Harlem Street Portraits

    Book Reviewed by Kam Williams

    “With a population of nearly half a million people, Harlem is America’s most celebrated African-American neighborhood. Its rich past and historical importance have made a unique contribution to our national popular culture…
    Photographer Harvey Stein documents the humanity and spirit of the people of Harlem in 166 beautiful photographs taken over 22 years…. The images are mostly close-up portraits that reveal the friendliness and warmth of this city’s inhabitants...

    What may at first appear to be a casual encounter becomes a personal, intimate record, a meaningful collaboration between photographer and subject. Stein’s photographs capture and celebrate the Harlem spirit.”
    —Excerpted from book jacket

    Harlem has been a predominantly African-American neighborhood since the dawn of the 20th Century, when the mass migration by descendants of slaves from the rural South flooded many a metropolis above the Mason-Dixon Line. By the Twenties, this section of Manhattan had blossomed into an artistic mecca and home to many black intellectuals, writers, painters, musicians and dancers.

    Spanning that decade, the Harlem Renaissance marked a period of explosive creativity aborted only by the onset of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, in the wake of World War II, the region was resurrected as a hub of cultural, religious and commercial activity, and continued to play that pivotal role over the intervening decades.  Today, however, Harlem is at risk of losing its identity because of the influx of whites as a consequence of the gentrification which has accompanied skyrocketing real estate prices. For this reason, Harvey Stein’s Harlem Street Portraits couldn’t be more timely.

    The book is basically a collection of striking, black & white photographs which the talented shutterbug took of residents between 1990 and 2012. His impromptu snapshots capture colorful subjects with a tremendous range in terms of fashion tastes, personal interests and even emotions.

    From a Freemason rocking a funky fez, to a flag-waving patriot, to a boy hugging his basketball, to an aspiring ballerina in a tutu, to churchgoers strutting in their Sunday best, this visual history of a rapidly-disappearing demographic weaves a telling tapestry of a once-cohesive community.

    Harlem Street Portraits

    New York Street photographer Harvey Stein durinmg a book signing Rizzoli Bookstore on October 16, 2013
    New York street photographer Harvey Stein
    during a book signing Rizzoli Bookstore on October 16, 2013

    Black Power Line

    Editor’s Note: “Harlem Street Portraits - A Big Beautiful Volume”.

    Read Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.’s description of Harlem Street Portraits.