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Once referred to as “The Black Mecca,” Harlem has long centered itself as a pivotal hub of black culture. But like most places, the New York neighborhood has been susceptible to the clutches of gentrification: it’s new found status as a tech and start-up hub is endemic of the social and cultural changes that have occurred in recent years.

A Harlem native, photographer David “Vades” Joseph has witnessed some of those alterations first hand. Subsequently, he has now embarked on a photo journey in a bid to preserve the old way of life.

“The series focuses on my personal journey in discovering and documenting the cultural traditions as an ode to Harlem life,” said Joseph. “Focusing on themes such as spirituality, family, and memory, the photographs are a representation of my experiences and connection to the neighborhood.”

Shot in nostalgic monochrome, the photos look as if they’re from a bygone era. The community spirit is almost tangible as his lens cover parades and brass band performances. Harlem’s spirit perpetuated in its people, rather than the changing buildings and architecture.

Peep the photos above, and then check Luke Paige’s gritty Paris skate set.

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