Harlem….the history of the black mecca of the world is really inspirational. The community of this neighborhood is incredible and the vibrance of the culture that has come out of this neighborhood is incredible. From music to basketball to art to writing, Harlem has been inspiring artists to rise out of the hard times for centuries. The atmosphere is incredible and right now Harlem is going through a new renaissance and a new revival of the streets of Harlem that allows for the neighborhood to start to prosper not only culturally but also economically.
Yes, Harlem has been known for violence and gangs. Now it is getting better however, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. East Harlem is now the mecca for the crime in the Harlem area and for that matter the whole of New York City. The neighborhood is also home to the largest amount of jobless New Yorkers.
Like most places, one has to be familiar with where you should go especially at night. So really Harlem is getting better however, just realize that this has been a rocky area for centuries and you just need to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood so that you can keep yourself safe. You just need to know what you’re getting into if you move into the neighborhood. If it was me….I would look elsewhere to stay especially when I move to New York City firstly. Because, knowledge is power and knowledge is safety and the only way to know if you are truly going to be safe in Harlem is to actually be acquainted with the neighborhood. Living closer to Broadway is a tip I have read over and over again if you are going to actually live in Harlem. Also Lenox and 8th (FDB) are certainly nicer areas of Harlem.
Thanks to Bill Clinton who established the headquarters of the Clinton Foundation on 125th St. townhouses are indeed replacing older buildings. This is obviously in the ‘safe zone’ areas. Median Rent for a 1 bedroom in the area (nakedapartments) is 1,750. The cheaper rent is definitely a great factor to live in this neighborhood. On Craiglist I found rents everywhere from about 700 to about 1400. Obviously a steal in the grand scheme of things these days.
Top No Fee Apartment Buildings (nakedapartments.com)
- 2300 5th Ave
- 630 Lenox Ave
- 66 Saint Nicholas PI
- 529 W 151st St
- 625 W 133rd St
- 3671 Broadway
The 1920’s was a powerful time in Harlem history. This was the famed renaissance time period. The movement was empowered by strong black leaders and allowed America and the world to see that the blacks were in fact gifted. This fact was something that the community at large didn’t want to hear however, the renaissance proved the world wrong and the world was forced to listen, read, and watch in awe as strong individuals such as
Langston Hughes created a spark that spread far and wide. A famous quote from Alain Locke epitomizes this time period, “Negro life is seizing its first chances for group expression and self determination.” This renaissance gave the black community pride for their race and is really the moment when Harlem became the black mecca of the world.
Apollo Theater is a common household name, and it is the NYC’s home for R&B and soul. Ever heard of Ella Fitzgerald? Why of course you have…she was launched to her historic career at this theater. Today you can hear the prodigies of these great talents still performing every night. And if you are looking for great tappers…yes I said tappers, check out Showman’s Jazz Club which has weekly tapping shows. Or obviously (the name) they have jazz and blues shows the rest of the week. P.S. the cover is free during the week and only $5 on Saturday and Sunday.
- Phuket Lounge
- Rooftop 760
- Shrine Bar
- Bier International
- The Corner Social
- Ginny’s Supper Club
Beurre & Sel is a delicacy shop which is cheap!!! Who doesn’t want to live off cookies and french delicacies? Or if you want “real food” try southern delicacies like fried chicken at Country Panfried Chicken. And hey this is Harlem and in NYC terms that means it is cheaper than most so……eating is easy.
- East Dumpling House
- El Aguila
- Levain Bakery
When you only got 5 dollars in your pocket, come thrifting at Harlem. Okay I admit you probably should have over 5 but still. Columbia U Consignment is one of the premiere thrift stores in the area. Dig around and you can find some AH-mazing deals. Trunk Show Designer Consignment has deals such as 60% of Chanel. So basically it’s every girl’s dream. The streetwear shop Harlem Underground is where you can really feel the vibrance of community and translate that into your own closet. And speaking of local vibrance Bebenoir has DJ’s spin in the windows. This is an own private label and the clothes are as vibrant as the community.
There are plenty of great skin and hair -care stores in the area. Carol’s Daughter and Sade Skincare are two of the most well-known. um…yeah and you know how I was just talking about every girl’s dream well….Brad Pitt shops at Carol’s Daughter. So yeah. Just let that sink in. Maybe your eyes will meet his while your shopping for fragrances and he will leave Angelina for you….who knows.
And obviously we know the goods like H&M and Target. We got to have the goods.
My favorite topic! Maybe you thought I was just a dancer but even dancers can be obsessed and play basketball. Oh and by the way Harlem is HOME of streetball. So yeah expect a lot of links.
Rucker Park is considered by ESPN at one of its “Top 100 Sports Arenas in the World.” That’s nuts. Rucker Park has a tournament every summer which hosts the best streetballers from around the world. But more than that Rucker Park makes great players and helps to keep young boys off the streets. At Rucker Park it is hard and tough streetball where toughness and flash is something that is a time honored traditioned. So many greats come to Rucker Park to have fun including my favorite Kobe Bryant. Watch him go crazy here. But there are also greats who played at Rucker Park religiously.
The greats who just come to play is a crazy huge list including:
- Vince Carter
- Kevin Durant
- Kevin Garnett
- Brandon Jennings
- Chris Paul
- Metta World Peace (you know that was scary)
- Ray Allen
- Stephon Marbury
- Allen Iverson
- Michael Finley
- Steve Francis
The list could go on and on and on and on. But having these great players come to Rucker Park to the community and show the community their greatness, is probably some of the best moments of the residents life and it truly shows them that they are capable of greatness too. Michael Jordan created a Breakfast Club Event at Rucker Park which was a clinic for the kids. Dwayne Wade was there…watch him having fun with the kids here. It’s for the kids, for the nicknames, for the fun, and for the pride.
But that list up there is only the players who made a couple trips to the park. ESPN came up with an unranked list of the 24 best players who played at the park on a regular basis. Perhaps the greatest streetball legend is “Skip to My Lou” or Rafer Alston who actually made the leap from streetball to the NBA. Watch him on And1’s tape here. What really surprised me in this 24 player list was the NBA legends who were on it. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins, and Nate “The Skate” Archibald. These are some of the greatest players in the NBA ever. I never realized that they were religious streetballers too. Other names on this list include: Herman “Helicopter” Knowlings, “Jumpin” Jackie Jackson, Earl “The Goat” Manigault, Earl “The Pearl Monroe”, and Frank “Shake N’Bake” Streety.
Watch the Blackout here for more Rucker Park documentary. (Lebron still is the worst though)
Other than these basketball legends there are many talented people who have came out of Harlem.
- Lil Mama
- Al Pacino
- Arthur Miller
- Duke Ellington
- W.E.B. Dubois
- A$AP Rocky (and the mob)
- Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
- Louis Armstrong
- Puff Daddy
- Marx Brothers
- Alicia Keys
And finally Barney, Neil Patrick Harris, calls Harlem home today.
NEXT WEEK: Tribeca