Harlem, district of New York City, U.S., occupying a large part of northern Manhattan. Harlem as a neighbourhood has no fixed boundaries; it may generally be said to lie between 155th Street on the north, the East and Harlem rivers on the east, 96th Street (east of Central Park) and 110th Street and Cathedral Parkway (north and west of Central Park) on the south, and Amsterdam Avenue on the west.
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Harlem began as a farming village in Dutch New Amsterdam. It remained an agricultural community until after the Civil War, when rapid population growth pushed New Yorkers uptown. By 1880, elevated trains ran as far north as 129th Street, and the neighborhood attracted tens of thousands of upper-class whites, with poorer Italians and Jews settling to the east and south.