© Author Adventures

Claude McKay, Renaissance Poet from the Harlem YMCA

If Harlem is included when visiting New York City, you can stop at the Claude McKay Residence (the Harlem YMCA), where Jamaican-born, Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay (1889-1948) resided in its early days. Even today, it remains possible to book a guest room there.

To understand the literary history of New York, it is helpful to become informed about the Harlem Renaissance, a time and place in American history that birthed and celebrated the careers of many African-American writers, musicians and artists. Claude McKay and Langston Hughes are considered two of its most influential and popular poets from that time.

“If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything,” — Claude McKay

Langston Hughes, A Writer’s Open Home

In addition to the long-standing YMCA in Upper Manhattan, the Harlem home of Langston Hughes (1902-1967) opened to the public through the “I, Too, Arts Collective” in 2017. The address is 20 E 127th Street, New York, NY 10035. The original typewriter and piano of Langston Hughes are on display at this multi-purpose space, honoring the life and work of one of the most popular African-American writers of all time. Read the moving story of the opening through a community-based non-profit campaign here: Huffington Post.

An excellent scholarly book to read about this time, place, and people working in the arts is Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal, published by Yuval Taylor in 2019.

Harlem, which borders the Hudson River and is southwest of Yankee Stadium, has a population of approximately 116,000.

Check out our Kansas, Ohio and Tennessee pages for more information about the homes of Langston Hughes.

This is the seventh stop on our New York Author Adventures Trail!

Patricia Smart