The Harlem Renaissance was a movement in African-American culture and the arts that happened in the period between the first and second world wars, roughly from 1919 to 1935. It is named after Harlem, an area in the northern part of Manhattan Island (one of the five boroughs of New York City) running across the entire width of the island from the Hudson River to the East River between approximately 96th and 156th Streets. Although the area was historically settled by the Dutch, it became predominately African-American as a result of two major migrations, the first beginning in 1905 and the second continuing during the Great Migration, a massive exodus of African-Americans from the South where racial prejudice limited their opportunities.
Several factors influenced the cultural ferment that became the Harlem Renaissance. First, Harlem was a center of movements arguing for full racial equality for African-Americans and for respect for the dignity of African-American culture. This provided the groundwork for the development of distinctly African-American art forms. Second, migrants from the deep South brought to Harlem African American folklore and musical traditions such as blues, jazz, and spirituals. Third, as African American writers and musicians and artists congregated in Harlem, they supported and influenced each other. Increasing, Harlem clubs and theaters became venues which supported and promoted African-American work, in close proximity to the concentrated wealth of of Manhattan, which supplied many white customers and patrons for the work of African-American creators.
In music, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington performed in Harlem and gave rise to the "jazz age." Anthologies of African-American work and magazines gave impetus to the careers of Countée Cullen, Langston Hughes, Du Bois, Zora Neal Hurston, and Jean Toomer, creating a virtuous cycle of increasing visibility and demand.