"The Stroll” is a term for the center street (the social center) in an area of New York City with a large black population. The Stroll was originally between 26th and 63rd Streets on the west side of Manhattan. During the 1890s, The Stroll was on Seventh Avenue, between 23rd and 34th Streets.
In the 1920s, The Stroll moved up to Harlem and was Seventh Avenue, between 131st and 132nd Streets. The term “The Stroll” began to fall into disuse by the 1950s and is of historical interest today.
Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang
by Jonathon Green
Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
1 [mid-19C; 1920s+] (mainly US Black) the main street, esp. when used as a social centre.
2 [1930s+] (US) anything requiring only a minimal effort, an easy task.
3 [1950s+] (US pimp) those streets or blocks on which prostitutes ply their trade; thus stroll, to work as a street prostitute; stroll, a prostitute.
4 [2000s] (US Black) a place where drugs are sold. [SE stroll, to wander along; the original stroll was situated between 26th and 63rd Streets on New York’s West Side, the mid-late 19C centre of the Black population. During the 1890s the stroll moved to Seventh Avenue between 23rd and 34th Streets and when the focus of Black life moved again, to Harlem (c.1920), the stroll moved uptown on Seventh Avenue between 131st and 132nd Streets]
5 November 1927 Afro-American, “Fashion show is big event of the week in Harlem,” pg. 7:
On The Stroll
LEONARD HARPER HIT
The Lafayette is now offering Clarence Dotson in the Leonard Harper hit, “A Night In Harlem,” on which I will give you the dirt in my next issue. The handsome and dapper Mr. Harper has put out some clever revues both on Broadway and the stroll, so we expect a thriller.
by James Weldon Johnson
New York, NY: A. A. Knopf
Strolling is almost a lost art in New York; at least, in the manner in which it is so generally practised in Harlem. Strolling in Harlem does not mean merely walking along Lenox or upper Seventh Avenue or One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Street; it means that those streets are places for socializing. One puts on one’s best clothes and fares forth to pass the time pleasantly with the friends and acquaintances and, most important of all, the strangers he is sure of meeting. One saunters along, he hails this one, exchanges a word or two with that one, stops for a short chat with the other one. He comes up to a laughing, chattering group, in which he may have only one friend or acquaintance, but that gives him the privilege of joining in. He does join in and takes part in the joking, the small talk and gossip, and makes new acquaintances. He passes on and arrives in front of one of the theatres, studies the bill for a while, undecided about going in. He finally moves on a few steps farther and joins another group and is introduced to two or three pretty girls who have just come to Harlem, perhaps only for a visit; and finds a reason to be glad that he postponed going into the theatre. The hours of a summer evening run by rapidly. This is not simply going out for a walk; it is more like going out for adventure.
Really the Blues
by Milton “Mezz” Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe
New York, NY: Random House
You couldn’t see for looking, therewere so many things to dig on The Stroll between 131st and 132nd.
The Stroll: Seventh Avenue in Harlem; any main street
The City in Slang:
New York Life and Popular Speech
by Irving Lewis Allen
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Between 1865 and about 1900, the city’s African Americans were greatly concentrated on the West Side, from about 26th Street to 63rd, and Seventh Avenue was their main thoroughfare. In the 1890s fashionable blacks promenaded on Seventh Avenue, especially from 23rd to 34th streets, and whites, just a stone’s throw away, derisively called it African Broadway. In an older black street vernacular, the stroll alluded to the social use of the main street as a promenade, just as the Bowery and Broadway were crawls for whites. In the 1920s, after the blacks moved to Harlem, Seventh Avenue farther uptown between 131st and 132nd was called The Stroll. In its glory days, the promenade of Harlem’s Seventh Avenue was described in the “Prologue” of Carl Van Vechten’s controversial novel Nigger Heaven (1926).
New York (NY) Times
Coda Is Heard for a Daytime Jazz Club in Harlem
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
Published: July 5, 2008
Gordon Polatnick’s business plan, he concedes, was heavy on the things that fueled his daydreams and too light on almost everything else.
Mr. Polatnick learned that Harlem had been the birthplace of modern jazz. He became well-versed about the Corner, at Seventh Avenue, now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, and 131st Street, a meeting place for musicians; the Stroll. Seventh Avenue from 131st to 132nd Street, a block that in the 1930s was lined with clubs; and Swing Street, 133rd Street, between Lenox and Seventh Avenues, where Billie Holiday was discovered as a fill-in singer at a supper club.
Then he mentioned something that he could not have said a few years ago: “This is not the Stroll anymore.”