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Uptown, from 110th Street to the Harlem River, from 5th Avenue to St. Nicholas Avenues.

Harlem is enjoying a new renaissance — an explosion of new development. Harlem residents are also finding a new range of shopping options, as 125th Street, once known for its independent bazaars that offered anything and everything for sale, is now also home to Uptown sites for chains. Beautiful architectural enclaves feature townhouses — many with multiple fireplaces and gorgeous molding — designed by the famous firm of McKim, Mead and White.

Living in Harlem

Famous for its cultural renaissance in the 1920s, Harlem is a vibrant uptown neighborhood in the throes of a period of regeneration. Its rich history melds with an influx of new commerce. Situated to the north of Central Park, Harlem’s sandwiched between Morningside Heights and East Harlem. The A, C, B and D lines stop at the 125th Street station, making it just a 30- to 40-minute commute to Grand Central Station or Wall Street.

There’s a strong sense of tradition in Harlem’s redbrick row houses, well-tended parks and swinging jazz clubs. Yet the area’s long and storied past is now complemented with a diverse present, from genre-bending music venues to upscale fusion restaurants. A bustling atmosphere permeates 125th Street, long a shopping destination for locals and bargain seekers alike.

Harlem real estate

Elegant townhouses and prewar brownstones help make up the desirable stock of Harlem real estate. Historic Harlem apartments feature multiple working fireplaces and crown molding. Wrought iron railings and stoops on the exterior hide refurbished modern kitchens.

Some of the most notable townhouses are in the St. Nicholas Historic District, nicknamed “Strivers' Row” in the 1920s and 30s for its ambitious, upwardly mobile residents. Composers W.C. Handy, Eubie Blake and Scott Joplin are some of the former residents of these Neo-Georgian row houses, which are still in hot demand. New condos are also available in Harlem. These include luxury developments like Windows on 123 and PS90, a public school transformed into a block of condos.

Harlem history

From Dutch farmers to the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem has been home to a range of residents over the centuries. The region was originally settled in 1658. However, it remained a tract of farmland until the 1880s, when Manhattan’s population crept ever northward. Extensions of the rail lines along Eighth and Ninth Avenues reflected this trend. The arrival of the Lenox Avenue subway line then stoked the fires of a real estate construction boom at the turn of the 20th century.

Entrepreneur and real estate agent Philip A. Payton is credited with suggesting that African American tenants moved into these new homes, earning him the title of “father of Black Harlem.” A new African American community flourished as families from Manhattan, the American South and the Caribbean arrived in search of opportunities. The 1920s was a time for exciting artistic and cultural progression. Harlem Renaissance luminaries like Alain Locke and Langston Hughes boosted the neighborhood’s profile as a hub for intellectual expression. Harlem went on to play an important role in the Civil Rights Movement, and is still an epicenter of cultural activity.

Harlem restaurants

Down-home soul food draws both tourists and residents to Harlem’s unpretentious eateries. For the traditionalists, famous spots like Amy Ruth’s, Sylvia’s and Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too serve up delectable Southern fried chicken with sides of cornbread, grits and candied yams. Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson is leading a new vanguard of Harlem cuisine with his Red Rooster Harlem. Named after a legendary neighborhood speakeasy, Red Rooster celebrates Harlem’s community spirit. It hosts cooking classes and uses locally-sourced ingredients. The dining room serves comfort food elevated to a gourmet level, and downstairs houses Ginny’s Supper Club, an intimate performance venue.

Samuelsson has also opened Streetbird Rotisserie on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, known locally as “Restaurant Row” for its cluster of dining establishments. Nearby bistro Corner Social dishes up a melange of American favorites and Latin-inspired tidbits like Argentinean empanadas and ceviche mixto. Here diners can enjoy oysters and steak in a lively space adorned with a Paul Deo mural.

Harlem attractions

Harlem’s culture is world-famous. Institutions like the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Studio Museum of Harlem provide a good starting point for learning more about the African American experience. The Smithsonian-affiliated National Jazz Museum regularly hosts performances. Sit back and enjoy the visitor center’s exclusive selection of rare jazz recordings from the likes of Count Basie and Louis Armstrong.

Music fans have been flocking to the Apollo Theater since 1934. This neoclassical gem is still open for business, showcasing up-and-coming artists hoping to become the next Ella Fitzgerald or James Brown. To enjoy the great outdoors, look no further than Marcus Garvey Park, a prime neighborhood green space with a swimming pool, summer concerts and 20 acres of recreation. It also hosts the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival each year.

Harlem nightlife

The Apollo’s a sure bet for a show-stopping night out in Harlem, but there are also a number of other historic venues to explore. Jazz rhythms still flow through the neighborhood’s nightlife scene. Jazz supper club Minton’s has been hosting talented musicians since 1938. And the legendary Cotton Club draws in crowds with its 13-piece big band, providing the perfect location for dancing the night away to swing tunes

Stylish cocktail bars are favored by today’s Harlem residents. Sip swanky concoctions at 67 Orange Street, named after the address of a 19th-century saloon and dance hall. The menu here features throw-back classics like Sazeracs along with of-the-moment spirits such as shochu and pisco. For craft brews, Bier International pairs international drafts and local bottled beers with live music and tasting events.

Harlem shopping

Bustling bazaars and big-name boutiques characterize the area’s retail scene. Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market is open daily with bustling stalls hawking traditional African textiles and crafts. It’s the go-to place to stock up on handmade clothing and intricately carved wooden figurines. A dizzying range of fast fashion and independent businesses lines 125th Street, which has long been a popular shopping address for Harlem residents. While chain stores like Old Navy and H&M have recently joined what was once a traditionally independent row of shopfronts, there are also retailers like natural skincare boutique Carol’s Daughter and a branch of NYC streetwear emporium Jimmy Jazz.

...Harlem on my mind...

" A gorgeous mosaic! It's true; diversity here is amazing and energizing and just plain wonderful!"
Linda Partland
Linda                Partland
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What's In The Area: Harlem

Driving Walking

Local tips and information for going out in the Harlem from The Corcoran Group. Explore dining, shopping and nightlife.

All Harlem tips




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