For many of our guests at Park 79 Hotel, a visit to Harlem is pretty high on their list of must-sees. Exploring everything to know on the Internet, they discover an area truly unique. No other world capital boasts a Harlem, and our Harlem—as with so many neighborhoods—has changed…and changed again. Real estate investors, downtown restaurateurs, business offices (following Bill Clinton), giant retailers and, now, Columbia University have been changing the landscape drastically the past few years. Central Park’s northern landscape surprises even us locals: Harlem Meer, the Dana Nature Center, Summer dancing, Lasker Ice Rink – Swimming Pool, huge granite boulders and the northern gate of Conservancy Gardens on the East Side.
This is, for the most part, good news; to many long-time Harlem residents (especially the far-from-affluent) the changes are not all welcome. Traditional Harlem boundaries are changing as well. Columbia University’s newest campus starts at Broadway and ends near the Hudson River, the southern boundary is West 125th Street. Riverbank State Park borders the West Side Highway. (In fact, Harlem boasts several beautiful parks.) East Harlem is now multiethnic: African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Mexicans, young Anglo-Americans. Both of the Harlems share an amazing change-of-architecture scene, East Harlem going south to East 96th Street. (And Costco has found a home here in a multi-story shopping mall along the East River!)
Noting that many of these “upheavals” have been for the good, we share those unique sites and tastes that visitors should look forward to experiencing.
The streets are safer and cleaner; Harlem residents can be among the most welcoming New Yorkers; it’s so easy to reach Harlem’s main crossroads by subways and buses, bringing visitors right to where they want to be. And, green medallion taxis can carry you TO Park 79 Hotel’s doorstep on West 79th Street in minutes. Day and Night!
Romare Bearden paintings “Jamming at the Savoy” & “The Card Players”
Romare Bearden’s paintings and remarkable collages stand as glorious tributes to Black History and can be seen at the Studio Museum and Schomburg Library.
A highlight of any Harlem visit is the Sunday Gospel Service and Brunch. The churches have almost all become far too crowded for tourist groups, but the gospel brunches are memorable, both for the spirit and joy of the music and the enormous offerings of food. The women of Harlem, in their gorgeous hats, will join you very often after services, and they ARE stunning (especially Easter Sunday).
Here are links that will take you to all the information for your Harlem Visit planning. Daytime: solo walking or guided tours-museums, shopping, parks, recreation. Night: soul food dinner, jazz, dancing, The Apollo. Sundays: gospel performances and brunch, with a group or on your own.
- History of Harlem
- Harlem’s Neighborhoods
- Big Onion Walking Tours of Historic Harlem
- Touching on The Heights Neighborhood
- Architectural Tours of Harlem
- Neil Patrick Harris loves living in Harlem with his family
- Harlem Week Celebration
- Harlem for the Kids
- Gospel Tours for Everyone
- The Apollo Theatre
- The Studio Museum
- and the Schomburg Library
- Visit El Barrio — East Harlem
- The New Columbia University
- Riverbank State Park
- A Photographic Personal Essay of Harlem