28. Harlem YMCA (Claude McKay Residence) (1931-1932)

Harlem YMCA

Now the site of the Harlem YMCA, the Claude McKay Residence is a National Historic Landmark, named for a leading Harlem Renaissance author who lived in the building from 1941 to 1946. The red-brown brick building was built between 1931 and 1932, and is found just a few blocks north on 135th Street of the Apollo Theatre. Malcolm X supposedly stayed at the building, and the building currently is home to the mural “Evolution of Negro Dance” by Aaron Douglas, an African-American painter and arts educator.

Claude McKay was a Jamaican author perhaps best-known for his poem “If We Must Die,” written in 1919 in response to violence directed towards African Americans during the Red Summer. McKay also wrote novels like Banana BottomHome to Harlem, and the treatise Harlem: Negro MetropolisUnlike many other Harlem Renaissance authors, McKay depicted Harlem rather negatively in his works, writing of its drug use and wealth disparity.