Little Senegal in Harlem

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By Diego Lynch

The 2 or 3 trains to 116th St, will take you to Le Petite Senegal, or Little Senegal. Languages from around the African continent can be heard on the streets.

The Senegalese community formed here in the mid-1980s when an influx of Senegalese immigrants moved to the area. Since then, the neighborhood has become more and more diverse, with Africans from other parts of the continent.

The colorful Malcom Shabazz Harlem Market is packed with vendors, who sell traditional African craft goods. Nestled behind the rainbow of textiles, the tiny rooms with sewing machines contain people lovingly crafting the goods on display. Most of the crafts are clothing and jewelry, but there is the occasional hand carved wooden mask.

Take a look inside the market. Video by Amina Srna

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But like most of Harlem the neighborhood is being gentrified. Although the Malcom Shabazz Harlem Market has the African fish market Sea & Sea to its west, to its east there is a coffee house filled with laptop bound latte drinkers, in a colossal building emerging from its scaffolding. The African businesses are being priced out by sky rocketing rents, gradually turning this unique neighborhood into a series of chain stores. Walking along 116th you are flanked by a CVS, followed by a UPS store, Popeye’s, Baskin Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Many of the older businesses are fleeing north to the Bronx or further into Harlem.