5 Cities That Were Booming For African Americans in the Early to Mid-1900s

Written by Jae Jones

In the early 1900s, African Americans were ready for a change. The new generation was looking to do more with their lives and wanted to escape the ways of the south. Therefore, many of them packed their bags and set out to make it big and create something new and different for themselves. These are five cities in which most people made their homes and prospered during those times.


1. Chicago, Illinois

Almost every Black person wanted to live in Chicago. It was the place to be with sizzling jazz and blues bands. Black people were able to live middle-class lifestyles and the area was booming with political influence. The job market was relatively well for Black Americans as well. There were jobs available in railway companies, steel mills, and meatpacking houses. The population in Chicago had almost tripled from 1910 to 1930. In 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr., began the Chicago Freedom Movement to push for integrated housing, while Jesse Jackson launched Operation Breadbasket to increase Black employment.


2. Harlem, New York

It seems everyone from the south was being drawn to Harlem, New York. For years, people heard stories about the city life up north. Harlem was always at the top of the list, since the political and cultural center of Black American life was centered there. Many Black people were able to move to New York during the early 1900s and secure homes in lower Manhattan. There were also many opportunities for people who wanted to break into show business.


3. Washington, DC

Washington, DC, was a big pit stop for Southern runaway slaves. After the Civil War, more Black people moved to the city. By the 1960s, the majority of the city’s population was black. There were numerous Black political organizations and marches on Washington being made during the time.


4. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans was known for having a diverse cultural influence after the Civil War. The city was predominantly light-skinned Blacks who were called Creoles. These people were descendants from French and Spanish settlers and African slaves. The group, which created a vibrant, well-educated community, knew how to enjoy life and have a good time. Many Black people wanted to be a part of that community because of the love for Jazz, Blues and excitement.


5. Detroit, Michigan

During the Great Migration, the Black population began to increase in the Detroit area. The population grew fast and many Black people who moved in the area were able to find jobs and live middle-class lifestyles. Motown Records Corporation was booming during this period, and many Black performers were making it big time. Still today, a large part of Detroit’s population consists of African Americans.



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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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