Manhattan district, used figuratively for "African-American culture" by 1925. The N.Y. community was founded 1658 and originally named Nieuw Haarlem for Haarlem in Netherlands, which probably is from Dutch haar "height" + lem "silt," in reference to its position on a slight elevation on the banks of the Spaarne River. The black population grew rapidly in the decade after World War I. Related: Harlemese.

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Definitions of Harlem from WordNet

Harlem (n.)
a district of Manhattan; now largely a Black ghetto;