The dreaded Christopher Columbus Syndrome is rearing its ugly head in Harlem, with some developers and real estate agents trying to change the historical name to “SoHa,” short for South Harlem.
The area between 110th and 125th Streets, which was once predominantly Black, has been changing rapidly since the 1990s. It is no longer shocking to see White people casually strolling on Lenox Avenue, or dining on soul food at the many restaurants.
Welcome to gentrification.
Now, residents and community leaders are speaking out against realtors who are trying to popularize the “SoHa” name when advertising homes in the area. According to the Huffington Post, Realtor Keller Williams recently dedicated a “SoHa” team in the neighborhood.
Harlem District Leader Cordell Cleare said at a press conference last week, “We’re not going to let people who just got here change the name of our community for their profit. This is about greed and lust.”
Past gentrification efforts have displaced long-time residents as property prices shot up too high for them to afford. The attempt to make the area’s name hip, similar to SoHo, would attract more high-end developers and push out current residents, the local leaders said.