Harlem

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Get to know Harlem

Beyond Central Park, across 110th Street and up to 155th, Upper Manhattan is encompassed by Harlem. Times change, and people come and go, but Harlem remains through it all. Once the site of George Washington’s first victory as U.S. Commander-in-Chief, the area’s status as a real New York City neighborhood began following the Civil War. Rowhouses were constructed starting in 1876—replacing freestanding homes—to sustain population growth spurred on by public transportation’s arrival. The community expanded exponentially, however, necessitating massive apartment buildings to accommodate. Harlem perhaps has the perception of being a concrete urban jungle, but it is home to Marcus Garvey and Jackie Robinson parks and near several more—including the North Woods/Harlem Meer portions of upper Central Park. Those green spaces add a touch of nature to this famed metropolitan neighborhood, done up in eclectic architectural styles and still beckoning to people from all over.

Nearby Neighborhoods:

Harlem History & Culture

Any discussion of Harlem history and culture that doesn’t touch on the Harlem Renaissance is no discussion at all. From around 1918 through the mid-1930s, the neighborhood was ground zero for a flourishing of music, dance, art, fashion, literature, and more. It’s an era that brought names like Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, and Zora Neale Hurston to the forefront. A time period that jazz, rock and roll, hip-hop, and every genre in between can trace their roots to. Relatedly, Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater set the stage for countless legendary acts and helped jumpstart innumerable careers—including Ella Fitzgerald and Jimi Hendrix—with its regular “Amateur Night” showcase. But the Apollo is just one of many historic buildings found throughout Harlem’s several landmark areas. Districts like Striver’s Row, Mount Morris Park, and ​​Manhattan Avenue–West 120th–123rd Streets all consist of striking, indelible architecture, the kind that helps Harlem retain its character after all this time.

Harlem Dine & Shop

To dine out in Harlem is to eat some of the best that New York City (and, by extension, the world) has to offer. Food originating from countless sources—nations, the sea, plants—is featured on menus, providing a broad swath of flavors to please or expand the taste buds. Splurge a bit on a fine dining experience or indulge in comfort food from an enduring neighborhood establishment—they all bring diners to the area from far and wide. Seeing as Harlem is a popular NYC location, there are also wine bars, spots for craft beer, and top-notch bakeries to please the sweet tooth. Shopping tends to be concentrated along the main drag of 125th Street and nearby blocks. You’ll find a mix of familiar stores and brands, but also some independent, locally-owned options. Frederick Douglass Boulevard (the continuation of Central Park West) has also been known to lure window-shoppers.