Harlem, New York City
Harlem is a predominately African American neighborhood bounded by 153rd Streed to the North, The Hudson and Harlem Rivers to the east and west and 110th Street (Central Park) to the South. Since the 1920's it has been the heart of African American cultural and intellectual life in New York if not all of America. Sadly it does have a reputation that was at one time well deserved for criminal violence. It recent years it has become somewhat gentrified and other ethnic groups have started to move it however the majority of the locals remain African American.
During my first two visits to New York I never bothered to visit Harlem. There are a couple of reasons for this. The most obvious was that I thought it might be dangerous. I had heard that it was not from a friend you used to travel up here years ago. Then I grew concerned whether or not it would be welcoming. Unfortunately there is a serious segregation problem in the United States and the races seldom mix. African-Canadian friends from Toronto have noticed this when they visit America. However I kept hearing African Americans in New York plugging Harlem as a tourist destination.
I decided I might as well walk through the neighborhood to see what it is all about. I found it was very interesting. There are lots of local artists selling works about African American history and historical figures. The shopping is quite cheap and there are lots of places with a local flavour where you can eat. It was safe, mind you it was around lunch time on a Saturday afternoon when I was here and the streets where full. The walked up and down 125th Street and then down Fredrick Douglas Boulevard towards Columbia University.
Fondest memory: I did find it all intriguing and would recommend that you take it this part of New York, especially if you are traveling through the north part of Manhattan. If you are not part of it but willing to learn more African American culture then definitely spend part of your day here. I hope to visit again whenever I get back to New York.
This is Harlem.... I wouldn't have dared coming here by myself but the double decker buses that tour the city pass by here (at least the one I took did). It looks like a quiet and safe place, doesn't it? You can see houses and schools and people walking around just like in any other regular neighborhood... but be careful if you consider going there! This is located in the northern part of the island and there aren't a lot of things to do around here, anyway...
Fondest memory: Now that I've walked around this area again in my latest trip (2005) and according to the information local people gave me, Harlem has turned into a safer and nicer place, the real estate has increased its value amazingly for the same reason, and it looks like it's become one more area of NYC that you might like to visit!
The main Puerto Rican Neighborhood in manhattan is El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, located on the east side between 103rd St and 116th St.
Here you will find Puerto Rican delies, restauants, music and clothing stores. There is also 'El Museo del Barrio', the De la Vega studio, and quite a few murals, most of which were painted by -----> De la Vega, a Puerto Rican artist, based in El Barrio.
During the summer there are usually block parties and barbecues going on in one place or another, and you occasionly still see old men riding those big cruiser bicycles (which always have a PR flag flying from somewhere).
Puerto Ricans are very patriotic, and they go crazy at the PR day parade each year which is baisically one big street party. The parade is on the second sunday of june, and marches up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 86th streets.
I have yet to meet a Puerto Rican who doesn't speak english, so non spanish speakers are good there. for anyone who does speak spanish, unless you are used to the carribean style, you might be better off in english!
Fondest memory: Adresses:
El Museo del Barrio
1230 5th ave @ 104th St
De la vega studio
159E 103rd St
between Lexington and 3rd
Puerto Rican NY site
There are many mexicans in New York (not quite like LA, which is literally the second largest mexican city, second only to Mexico City itself) but there is still quite a large community here.
The biggest community is out in Queens- in Jackson Heights, and Corona. but there is also a little Mexico in manhattan, located in El Barrio (a tradicionaly Puerto Rican neighborhood).
El Barrio, or Spanish Harlem runs from about E 103 st to E 116 st. The mexican neighborhood is around 103 st to 110 st, mostly on lex, but scattered around. If you get off the 6 train at 103, and walk south on Lex (up the hill) you will encounter a couple of mexican restauants and a mexican grocery. the mexican grocery is where i myself do a lot of my shopping :D. It has pretty much everything, noplales (cactus leaves), tortilla presses, molinillos, spices and chiles of all sort, jamaica flowers, fresh mole, mexican candy and soda....etc. it even has a shrine to the virgen! across Lex you will find 'Disco Loco' for all your cumbia techno (which i think is bigger in new york than it is in mexico), and mexican music needs.
Unlike Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, or LA mexicans, most New York mexicans don't speak much english. This dosen't mean you won't be able to communicate, it just helps if you speak spanish : )
on a side note- there are a bunch of small taco and 'tex-mex' stores in downtown manhattan. Almost all, if not ALL are run by chinese. The food is a weird concoction of ...well god knows what, but they make a mean chicken taquito (which is kind of more like a kebab....). just never order anything with chorizo (or whatever they substitute for chorizo).
Fondest memory: Some addresses:
1620 Lexington Ave Btw. 102 & 103
La Costeñita Grocery
2155 2nd Ave
-The little grocerey I always go to- (will post the name soon)
Lexington between 102 &103 (across the street from 'Disco Loco'
.....more to come
Favorite thing: This is Apollo Theater, a black entertainment center in Harlem. It didn't look as grand as in the BET channel. As shown in photo it was under construction when I visited. Didn't get to see the inside. I heard Bill Clinton's office is in this area too. But I didn't stay long in Harlem. I walked from here straight to the Columbia University.
As the plane overflies the city, its beauty can leave you speachless! Each neighborhood has its charm.
As a graduate student in Columbia I usually hanged out and got familiar with the Morningside and Upper West neighborhoods. We once walked all the way downtown from Broadway from 116th to E 72nd. There are many shops, specially below 110th that are very inexpensive.
Fondest memory: I miss the whole experience of being in New York. Studying in Columbia is one of the best times in my life. Each building inside Morningside campus is beautiful. Specially the Low Library , but be sure to explore the Chapel. next door.
As the plane overflies the city, its beauty can laeve you breathless! The streets, buildings and people are absolutley interesting. Be sure to look for the Village Voice in order to catch recent movies, sales, restaurants and clubbing tips.
Fondest memory: I miss the whole experience of being in New York.
Favorite thing: Never, ever did we expect cozy homes and friendly people like these in Harlem. At our first visit a few days ago we were a little apprehensive to walk around Harlem, but now we realised that we should be happy and not worry.
Favorite thing: September 2nd, Sunday in Harlem. Unfortunately we got up too late for a gospel mass in one of the many churches in Harlem. This is a row of handsome old houses, which in a short time will become fancy apartements. Good or bad for Harlem?
First, you must provide a good sport shoes and prepare you to walk and walk all the day.
In NY you must go to a Gospel mass in Harlem
Of course you must see Empire State, World Trade Center, Liberty Statue..., but the most important is walk by the streets looking the people
Favorite thing: Striver's Row, Harlem. Beautiful, elegant homes in the middle of Harlem. Already in 1919 wealthy black professionals chose Striver's Row to be their address.