Since the late 1800s, the area from Manhattan’s 5th Avenue to the East River between about 96th and 130th streets has been a multicultural mixing chamber of new immigrants and African Americans. The last big immigrant wave came from Puerto Rico and other Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. They called the area El Barrio; to others, it became Spanish Harlem. By any name, it has long been a poor neighborhood just a subway ride away from some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
Koepsell TD. Alice Neel (1900-1984). Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(9):801. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.9.801