Since I attended African American Literature class last semester, I became familiar with African American culture and Harlem Renaissance. Perhaps the music “Harlem Shake” and the term “Harlem” would be everyone’s familiar subject as well. Harlem tour was one of the most anticipating listed schedules which I wanted to attend.
Before we began the tour, we heard the general explanation of Harlem history from the tour guide, which was quite informative and impressive.
However, the scenery of Harlem streets was somewhat different from which I expected. The street was so quite and calm, people were busy on their ways. Many houses in Harlem were similar with which I’ve seen at the Brooklyn. Brilliant traces of Harlem Renaissance were hard to find. If there were no people in the street and no sign marked as Malcolm X blvd, we would barely recognize that we’re in Harlem.
Compared to the fame and long history that Harlem possesses, I felt something lacking from the tour. Distinctive characteristics that only Harlem could possess weren’t enough, or probably, my expectation would have been too high. Still, I think we hadn’t toured enough even though we diligently followed the tour guide until we became seriously hungry. Maybe that’s why the guide kept saying “You have to come to the Harlem again on Sunday”. Maybe on Sunday, there would be more to watch and see, like he said.
After touring Harlem, I became to think of the impression that I’ve got from the Tiffany store. Tiffany in the present has been so much changed and modernized from the Tiffany in the movie. I feel lost when things are not as it used to be. But it doesn’t mean that meaningful places should keep their old customs and appearances, because, New York is definitely not only for tourists. Buildings and landscapes would naturally change to serve the convenience of local residents. But still, it would be wonderful if people preserved some of the old buildings of significant spots (as tenement museum did) so that we could experience the past memory and the record of history in our raw eyes.
After all, visiting Harlem was an exciting experience. It reminded me of many significant events of African American history and many important artists and writers that I’ve learned from the class. Somehow, I felt something deep sadness and strong emotions after visiting Harlem.