Edward Burra’s paintings of Harlem fall into two groups – street scenes and scenes of night-time entertainment. This painting, Harlem, depicts the area’s daytime street life. Several men and women are shown in front of a row of brownstone tenements, with New York’s elevated railway visible in the background. The street is shown as a place of social interaction: people linger on their doorsteps to smoke, talk and read newspapers. In contrast to the glamour and exuberance of Harlem nightlife, this painting presents a more downbeat scene of uncertain, possibly illicit, employment.