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Pioneer in Commercial Real Estate: Philip A. Payton, Jr.

In honor of Black History Month, ACRES pays tribute to the pioneers of our industry.

Philip A. Payton, Jr. (February 27, 1876 – August 1917) was a real estate entrepreneur who is considered the “Father of Harlem.” Starting his career as a porter in a real estate office, Payton decided to create his own firm and formed the Afro-American Real Estate Company. He appealed to Black investors specifically, both to their social justice and profit motives, with an ad stating: “Today is the time to buy, if you want to be numbered among those of the race who are doing something toward trying to solve the so-called ‘Race Problem.’”

As a building owner, he provided African Americans in New York City with an opportunity to live in better quality housing and open businesses in the northern Manhattan community of Harlem. As a result, he created the nexus of a community, setting the stage for the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s whose cultural output helped shape 20th-century America.