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Historic Harlem Scavenger Hunt

An At-Home History Lesson Plan Crafted by BGCHarlem Curriculum Specialist Joseph Landon


The following history scavenger hunt will expose students to the rich history and culture that exists within their local neighborhoods.

It will support lessons learned by students in the classroom, literature and/or textbooks.

In this two-week activity, students will be provided with two unmarked maps (Central Harlem and Sugar Hill/Hamilton Heights).

Each map will contain 5-8 location markers, in which students will use clues provided to identify each location marker.

If your child cannot read, read the text out loud to them. Ask them the questions and have them respond and/or solve on a separate sheet of paper.

If your child can read, simply give them the second page of this handout and have them read the text out loud or in their head.

Materials: Blank paper, map template, pen or pencil, Internet access

Addresses Common Core Standards:


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7 (You may click here to print the lesson or the student may view the lesson online and write his/her answers on a separate piece of paper)


Historic Harlem Scavenger Hunt


The following map contains blue markers 🔷, which are locations of places described on the fact sheet on the following page (a-h).

Your job is to match each location to a blue marker on the map.

The fact sheet provides important information that will help you with your scavenger hunt. Feel free to use Wikipedia and other internet resources to assist you in your search.

  1. __________________________________

  2. __________________________________

  3. __________________________________

  4. __________________________________

  5. __________________________________

  6. __________________________________

  7. __________________________________

  8. __________________________________

  9. __________________________________


Use these clues to fill out the map. Be sure to check out our social media pages for more clues!

a) Residence of James Weldon Johnson

  • James Weldon Johnson, an active Participant in the Harlem Renaissance on several fronts.

  • Johnson was a poet, novelist, songwriter, diplomat, editorial contributor to the New York Newspaper and executive secretary to the NAACP.

  • A lasting musical accomplishment of Johnson’s is the writing of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

b) Dark Tower - Residence of Madame CJ Walker and A’Lelia Walker

  • Madame CJ Walker became the wealthiest self-made millionaire in the United States by developing and marketing a conditioning product for black hair.

  • In 1928, Walker’s daughter A’Lelia Walker turned one of the townhouses into a tea salon for writers and artists. The salon became a part of the meeting place for artists and social elites (Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Zora Neale Hurston and would often frequent.)

c) Mother AME Zion Church

  • It is the oldest Black church in New York State, founded in 1796 and chartered in 1799 in Manhattan.

  • During the years of the Underground Railroad, Mother Zion was referred to as a ''Freedom Church'' for its active participation in the network.

  • The present Neo-Gothic church was completed in 1925. In the years of the Great Depression, Mother Zion continued its tradition of social activism and is still a leading voice in the New York Community.

d) Renaissance Ballroom & Casino

  • It was known as the "Rennie" and was an upscale reception hall. The "Renny" held prize fights, dance marathons, film screenings, concerts, and stage acts. It was also a meeting place for social clubs and political organizations in Harlem.

  • Popular dances that were created here were time, the Charleston, Lindy Hop, and Black Bottom

e) St. Mark’s Church and Hall

  • The fiery and charismatic Black leader Marcus Garvey gave his first New York speech at this site in 1916. Garvey established an unprecedented number of businesses for his “Negro self-help” and return to Africa movements in Harlem

f) Savoy Ballroom

  • It was known as “The World’s Finest Ballroom” and “Home of Happy Feet”. From 1926 to 1958 its twin bandstands showcased the world’s finest jazz musicians. Lois Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald dedicated a song to the Ballroom called “Stompin’ At the Savoy”

g) Cotton Club

  • The Cotton Club was segregated in the sense that only white patrons could enter the establishment while all the service and entertainment was provided by black entertainers who often worked jungle themes or black-face parodies for their guests.

  • The likes of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Josephine Baker have made an appearance at the Cotton Club. The Club was renowned worldwide and still is one of the most recognizable names associated with Harlem.

h) 369th Harlem Armory

  • The Harlem Armory was built in 1933 for the 369th Regiment because of their outstanding military valor. Known as the "Harlem Hell Fighters," the unit owns a special place in American history.

  • During World War I, the 369th Regiment was the first Black Regiment to fight World War I, although under French command due to American segregation policies.


Follow BGCHarlem social media channels for daily updates. Students, we would love to see your work! Be sure to upload a picture of yourself with your completed lessons using the hashtag #BGCHarlem.  

View our additional 'Resources For Students & Parents for Dealing with COVID-19' HERE

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