Although the speaker offers no specific descriptions of time or place, the poem’s title explicitly locates the site of central concern for the speaker. Harlem is the name of a neighborhood situated in Upper Manhattan. From a historical perspective, Harlem went through a major population shift between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the nineteenth century, the majority population of the neighborhood consisted mainly of Jewish and Italian residents. At the turn of the century, however, as the Great Migration set into motion, millions of Black people left the South in pursuit of greater freedom in the Northern states. Many Black Americans moved to New York City and settled in Harlem. By the 1920s, Harlem’s Black community had grown so strong that the neighborhood became the epicenter of a new flourishing of Black cultural and intellectual life. This period of flourishing is known as the Harlem Renaissance. Despite the positive associations the reader might have with the Harlem Renaissance, the speaker of “Harlem” doesn’t celebrate the neighborhood. Instead, they suggest that the Renaissance’s “dream” of Black liberation and thriving hasn’t materialized. Now, the speaker feels chiefly concerned about what will happen to Harlem if this dream continues to be deferred.