A great many books have been written about Harlem, but for social history none has surpassed Gilbert Osofsky's account of how a pleasant, pastoral upper-middle-class suburb of Manhattan turned into an appalling black slum within forty years. Mr. Osofsky sets his chronicle against the background of pre-Harlem black life in New York City and in the context of the radical changes in race relations in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He traces Harlem's change to the largest segregated neighborhood in the nation and then its fall to a slum. Throughout he neatly balances statistics and humanly revealing details. "A careful and important study.... Osofsky at once takes his place alongside James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, and others who have looked at Harlem at close range."—John Hope Franklin. "A pioneering scholarly achievement.... Although the subject engages his compassion, his presentation is rigorously straightforward and unsentimental and therefore all the more valuable as social analysis."—New York Times Book Review
Gilbert Osofsky taught American history at the University of Illinois at Chicago before his death in 1974. His other books include Puttin' on Ole Massa and The Burden of Race.