Harlem, a vibrant Manhattan nabe just north of Central Park, is most famous for its artistic renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. Currently, the nabe's beautiful pre-war brownstones draw a great mix of residents. Harlem hosts iconic jazz clubs, theaters, and restaurants, as well as a born-and-raised group of long time residents. Harlem shares its unique New York character with nearby East Harlem.
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New to Harlem
I have just moved to Harlem and he and I are getting along quite well! The area around 125th Street is vivacious and thrilling. There are numerous store fronts, restaurants, and street vendors. The area is very cultural and features The Apollo Theater (http://www.apollotheater.org), The National Black Theatre (http://www.nationalblacktheatre.org/), and The Studio Museum (http://www.studiomuseum.org/).
As a recent graduate from a Mid-Western university, Harlem is a welcome change in my pace of life. Though Harlem is in Manhattan it has the close-knit feel of a much smaller community or town. Most of the residents know and recognize each other and say ‘hi’ to one another. Last weekend there was a street fair across 135th street. There was loud music, food, people, clothes, dancing, and the community coming together. A dance party randomly broke out in the street. It was amazing.
While Harlem certainly has it’s reputation as a “less than safe” area of Manhattan I find that using common sense gives the best results! But seriously, as a 22-year-old female I know better than to be out late alone on streets that I don’t know well. The area around my apartment is relatively safe and quiets down around midnight on most nights. Walking in pairs is key.
Parking in Harlem is great! Especially in the residential areas. I don’t have a car full-time but when I was moving in it was no problem finding a spot for my U-Haul. Transportation is also good. Lots of bus stops, the Metro North stops right on 125th, and the 2,3,4,5,6 trains all enter around 125th.
Going from the Upper East Side to Harlem is a culture shock but a necessary one. Especially if one enjoys soul or Jamaican food. I feel like I am living a different city all together! And it is one that has, so far, treated me well.
The place to be
South Harlem aka SoHa is the place to be! Lovely tree lined streets, friendly people,LARGE apartments to either rent or buy (cheaper than Brooklyn). Diverse groups of people, from Hipsters to Senegalese immigrants and everything in between. Surrounded by parks – Central Park, Morningside park, Marcus Garvey Park, etc. The most parks in all of Manhattan. Every day there is a new store or restaurant opening on 8th ave. It’s quite exciting to live in a neighborhood where new places are opening every month it seems. The subway is VERY convenient – A,B,C,D, 2,3 trains are easily accessed anywhere in the neighborhood.What's awesome
Bier International (beer garden)What's not so awesome
the kids who hang out late at night on the street and fight with each other.
Italian American Girl
A Cultural Mecca
Harlem is a culturally diverse area in Manhattans uptown that harbors passion, art and style. Harlem hosts the Apollo Theatre, still a popular attraction, for locals and visitors alike – where viewers can cheer (or boo) comedians, performers and singers.
Some people may find safety an issue in Harlem, but they may be confusing the fast-pace of Harlem life with danger.
You will find diverse people in Harlem, there are all types of food, and plenty of people promoting their cultural uniqueness.
Being the neighborhood that was the origin of Jazz and other black culture, Harlem is often still thought of as the place it once was. But Harlem has developed significantly since its time as the roots of Black Culture. You will find all types of people here nowadays and Harlem is a quickly gentrifying nabe.What's awesome
culture, art, gentrification, foodWhat's not so awesome
Getting there… slowly
Moving to Harlem was easy, a giant 3BR in a very interesting building for the same price as a large studio in Financial did it for us. We needed the space with a baby coming, and were desperately trying to avoid leaving the city. Then we found all of these great shops, restaurants and parks just a few blocks south of where we live (126th & St Nick).
The only problem: 125th street, itself, is a mess. I have dogs who find anything and everything on the street including bones, shells, garbage, and large balls of hair. I don’t know what that’s about. Seems like a big issue, but when you weigh that against the fact that I have 2 express trains (A,D) that go directly to 59th street in one stop in 8 minutes, and I have a beautiful apartment at PS 157 Lofts (a converted public school), you learn to just cross the street quickly and within 2 blocks in any direction, it’s like any other Nabe in Manhattan. Better even, than some.
There is also a community feel to Harlem that makes it more warm than so many other places. The older people seem to be respected, there are lots of children and families, students (Columbia), and professionals.
There are tons of condo building going up too, especially on Frederick Douglass, south of 125th Street, so speculators get your checkbooks out.
Seriously? Nobody has reviewed Harlem one of the most famous historic neighborhoods in the entire US? Yet there are so many reviews for Williamsburg! Well then I am proud to be the first to review for Black History month.
I have always had a love for Harlem. Even before it was a neighborhood that tour buses went through taking tourists to Gospel brunches . It would be impossible to cover the rich history of Harlem in a small review so I will give links for you to look up.
First if you are a visitor or transplant to New York, a Harlem heritage tour is a must. http://www.harlemherit…/
Harlem has a fascinating history of jazz music.http://www.harlemspiri…
I assume everyone knows about Harlem’s history with crime. http://www.haarlemharl…
The gentrification of Harlem is credited in Wikipedia to the 1990’s police and city efforts. Like many gentrification projects there are mixed feelings among the residents. http://marketplace.pub…
Here is a fascinating article about the fight against gentrification from 1987.http://query.nytimes.c…
And here s an article from 2010 about the change in racial statistics for Harlem.
My own opinion is in spite of what Wikipedia says the real transformation of Harlem started with the Dance Theater of Harlem and Arthur Mitchell a true African American legend.
The picture in the last article is Stephanie Dabney who performed the Dance Theater of Harlem’s version of Fire Bird the best version I have ever seen! She is the true black swan!
The Dance Theater of Harlem school was there since the late 1960’s but it is in 1980 that they came to fame.
There is no way to prove my theory but it is in 1980 that the actual ballet company began bringing world attention to Harlem bringing in students of all ethnic backgrounds from all over the country. That is why being there is so much more powerful than just reading about it. Some of the history is usually lost along the way.
“A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
– Rod Walfordhttp://www.dancetheatr…
I had several close friends in the company and attended almost all of their performances back in the 80’s. Sheltered dance students came in from all over to study there and DTH started a renovation in the area so that students from other parts of the country would not be afraid to move to Harlem. I still have a few friends there and one I have known or almost my entire life. I don’t see him much but we are like brother and sister and it is always good to have a 6 foot 4 African American guy as your big brother.
Magic Johnson also was a part of it and that is not mentioned on many sites about Harlem history.
And Harlem is where the famous Harlem Globe Trotters were birthed.
Harlem is home to many unique restaurants and I have not been able to get around to reviewing most of them yet. http://www.nileguide.c…
It is home to the famous Dinosaur BBQ.http://www.yelp.com/bi…
And several famous Soul Food restaurants. http://www.ehow.com/li…
There have been so many famous residents of Harlem that there are too many to name. So I will provide a link with that information. http://www.biography.c…
Harlem also is home to the famous Apollo theater.
Harlem is home to the African American day parade.
There are also famous land marks too many to mention. http://www.welcometoha…/
Harlem is always at the heart of controversy and no visit to NYC would be complete without visiting Harlem.
Harlem used to be much bigger but now with all of these “new” neighborhoods likeManhattan Valley and Hamilton Heights the neighborhood that is still called by the name of Harlem has shrunk. http://wirednewyork.co…
I am not into these new names for historic neighborhoods.
This is Harlem!
Move to Harlem Today!
Harlmen is one of the most up and coming areas in Manhattan. Over the years there have been signifcant changes in the area. I have just rented a unit with K & R Realty (www.gonofee.com) and I really love this area. I work in midtown and have about a 10 minute commute to work.
The neighborhood is wonderful. They have just opened a Best Yet Market located on Frederick Douglas Blvd. between 119th and 120th in the SOHA building. Tons of brand new condos are going up in the area as well as new restaurants. There are tons of great food options and it is just growing. Each week you hear of a new shop opening in the area. I hear Marcus Samuelsson is opening a Red Rooster restaurant in just a few weeks.
The rents in the area are extremly cheap. You can get a two bedroom apartment from $1,695 – $2,800 with tons of space and ammenities.
This is the poster-neighborhood for up and coming, and has been for the past few years. Once crime-stricken and plagued by drug use, this area of northern Manhattan is becoming increasingly gentrified. It is a historic neighborhood with old rowhouses and attractions like the Apollo Theater. Rent is cheap so it has attracted a younger crowd, bringing a new night scene. It’s definitely further from the sites of more mainstream Manhattan but with ample subways it is easy to move around.Beverly W.