Harlem is New York City’s most popular tourist attraction after Wall Street and Times Square , but is still considered a supposedly dangerous black ghetto by tourists, which should only be visited in groups. In fact, crime no longer differs from that in other parts of the city. It has gone back tremendously.
In the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building at the intersection of 125th Street and Seventh Street, the Harlem Visitor Information Kiosk opened in 2003 and offers information for New York visitors. The kiosk is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pathmark is the first large supermarket in the district in 3 decades.
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Real estate prices soared
The real estate prices have risen enormously in the meantime and many already see the danger of “gentifrication” – an appreciation for the gentry at the expense of the previous residents. As before, 40% of the population in Harlem depends on social support from the state, only 9% live in their own home (compared to an average of 25% for the whole of Manhattan). Harlem begins on the northern edge of Central Park, north of 96 Street, the border with the Upper East Side, and extends from the Hudson in the west to the East River in the east over around 50 blocks to the north.
125th Street (Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard) is the main street of Harlem, the main commercial artery that runs through the middle of the district, is busy day and night and resembles a bazaar. There are numerous bars, clubs and snack bars here. The legendary one can also be found here Apollo Theater. In the 1920s, the big stars performed here and achieved world fame. The theater has been restored and has come to life with new talent. That too Studio Museum Harlem, the center of Harlem’s growing art scene, is located there.
The most important buildings in Harlem to visit alone or with a guided group are
- Hamilton Grange (503 W. 145th Street near Amsterdam Ave, the former estate of Alexander Hamilton is now part of the New York Public Library),
- Sugar Hill or Hamilton Heights (row houses from Edgecomb Avenue to Amsterdam Avenue and from 145th Street to 155th Street where black people lived who “made it” such as Count Basie, Sugar Ray Robinson or Judge Thurgood Marshall),
- Morris-Jumel Mansion (65 Jumel Terrace),
- Striver’s Row (138th and 139th Streets, one of the most beautiful enclaves in the city),
- Audubon Terrace, the block between 155th and 156th Streets west of Broadway,
- Boricua College and
- Aunt Len’s Doll and Toy Museum (6 Hamilton Terrace, collection of over 500 dolls).
Row houses built closely together
Harlem has the largest number of so-called brownstone houses of all parts of the city, three- or four-story row houses built closely together, which are now largely gutted and renovated. One should not miss a gospel service on Sunday (starting in the morning), to which visitors are always welcome. For example in the Abyssinian Baptist, Salem United Methodist or the Metropolitan Baptist Church. In addition to Black Harlem (area around Lenox Ave. and 125th Street), there is a distinction between Spanish Harlem and Italian Harlem. Spanish Harlem, the Puerto Rican neighborhood, begins above 110 Street on the northeastern edge of Central Park on the East River side. The district is also called El Barrio or The Neighborhood. Largest street is 116th Street.
The Museo del Barrio is dedicated to Latin American and Puerto Rican art and has a permanent exhibition of pre-Columbian art. The Columbia University, one of the oldest educational institutions in the Eastern US, is adjacent to Harlem (114th – 121st Street). The university was founded in the 18th century and is one of the elite institutes in the USA, the so-called Ivy League colleges. The campus is sprawling with lovely 19th-century buildings like the Low Library and the Butler Library. On the other side of Broadway is Barnard College, which is also worth seeing.
On the edge of Morningsinde Park stands the huge, unfinished cathedral St. John the Divine. (Corner of Amsterdam Ave./112th Street)
It is New York’s Anglican Church and is characterized by its size. Since construction began in 1892, the church has undergone numerous changes in style and is characterized by neo-Gothic influences. In the stoncecutting yard you can watch stonemasons and sculptors at work.
The vegetable and fruit market is a magnet for visitors
In Italian Harlem (around East 115th Street), the colorful vegetable and fruit market “La Marquetta” between 111th and 116th Street is a magnet for visitors. Harlem was already a sought-after residential address in earlier years. When the settlement “Nieuw Harlem” founded by Peter Stuyvesant in 1658 with south Manhattan by railroad was connected, the district became an elegant residential area. Numerous brownstone houses (see above) bear witness to this time. And when the subway was built in 1901, there was a real construction boom, the previously predominantly white population increasingly gave way to black settlers. In the 1920s and 1930s the area became a center of jazz with the Cotton Club, Apollo and Lafayette theaters. After the Second World War, an increasing impoverishment set in.
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION – THE MUSE COMPLEX
The Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum complex on earth. It was founded with the money that the British scientist James Smithsonian bequeathed to the United States and is now also active in the field of research and education.
Since it claims to be “the development of an institution for the increase and dissemination of knowledge about humanity”, most museums are free and open daily – except on Christmas Day or individual exceptions – from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (extended opening times during the high season). The daily tours are also free.
Washington DC museums and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park attract millions of visitors annually. Nine museums and galleries are located on either side of the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. A three-story, underground complex houses two museums and the S. Dillon Ripley Center, which includes the International Gallery, offices and lecture halls or seminar rooms. Five other museums and the National Zoo are located elsewhere in Washington. The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian are located in New York.