Central Harlem is an iconic neighborhood with rich history, stunning architecture, and a diverse population. This neighborhood sits on top of the northern edge of Central Park and stretches up to the edge of Washington Heights, while extending to the Hudson River on the west side. Once home to famous figures such as Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, Central Harlem continues to be a cultural landmark while still accommodating a wealth of new developments.
Central Harlem boasts a collection of tree-lined blocks with pristine brownstones as well as multi-story luxury buildings and condos. There is still a stark contrast on some blocks between the newer developments and the vacant lots and deteriorated housing stock.
This part of New York has seen its fair share of changes throughout history and has evolved over the years. Playing a major role in the Harlem Renaissance, this historically black neighborhood became known for a spectacular cuisine, music and art scene that continues to thrive today.
Known for its soul food with standouts like Sylvia's, Amy Ruth's and Red Rooster, you can't forget about other neighborhood hot spots like the Apollo Theater, the National Jazz Museum, Marcus Garvey Park or St. Nicholas Park.
Neighborhood Hot Spots
The Apollo Theater in particular played an integral role in the emergence of jazz, swing, R&B, gospel, blues and soul. Some of the most influential artists have played here including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Lauryn Hill.
Friendly and Convenient
Don't be alarmed when someone actually smiles at you and says "hello" on the street simply to be nice. Central Harlem has a friendly neighborhood feel and the neighbors are indeed friendly. Home to many mom-and-pop shops and family owned businesses, this is the neighborhood to make friends with the store owners and carve out your go-to spots. Plus, you might only be a few smiles and "hello's" away from a free coffee every now and then!
There is also an abundance of public transit options in this neighborhood making it the ideal place to have as a home base if you like exploring other parts of the city. Whether you're a bus, subway, bike or cab person, Central Harlem is centrally located to all modes of transport, so you always have options.
The Metro North train also has stops in Central Harlem so if you're feeling like an outdoor escape, hop on and ride a few stops up to the Botanical Garden or the Hudson area.
Perhaps one of the biggest draws of this northern Manhattan neighborhood is the abundant access to outdoor space and parks. The obvious access point is the northern section of Central Park, which is home to the Harlem Meer nature preserve, The Blockhouse historical landmark, and the Lasker Rink which is a great place to ice skate in the winter.
Not feeling historical landmarks and ice-skating rinks, don't fret--there's also Morningside Park which runs parallel to Manhattan Ave from 110th St. up to 123rd St. Here you'll find lush greenery dotted with fitness paths, baseball fields, playgrounds, dog-friendly areas and a weekly market!
Last but not least, you have Marcus Garvey Park which houses a community center, 2 playgrounds, drawbridges, an outdoor pool, and the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater which hosts a slew of summer concerts.