Harlem is the largest and most famous center of African-Americans life and culture in the US. The neighborhood is located uptown, bounded by the East and Harlem Rivers, the cliffs of Morningside Heights and St. Nicholas Terrace, and by 110th and 168th streets. Originally founded by the Dutch in the 1650s, who named it after the Dutch city of Harleem, Harlem was inhabited by farmers who managed several farmhouses. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, this beautiful outlying land attracted both gentleman farmers and wealthy merchants, who developed estates and build country mansions.
Starting from beginning of the 20th century, African Americans began to migrate from the southern states to the northern part of the country due to financial problems and settled in Harlem, also thanks to the neighborhood’s low rents due to the collapse of the real estate market in the area. During the 1920s Harlem was the center of the black cultural movement, known as the Harlem Renaissance.
What to see and What to do in Harlem
Today still you can appreciate the influence of African-American culture in the neighborhood. Important places to visit are: Mount Morris Historic District, Apollo Theater, the Striver’s Row,the Abyssinian Baptist Church and the main artery 125th street. The city, State and federal Government, as well as private developers, have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Harlem (see Columbia University project), the population is increasing as property values.
This is definitely the neighborhood to come to for experiencing the famous Gospel Choirs and the popular Jazz Clubs. The Cotton Club was the most famous Harlem nightclub during and after the prohibition era. Although famous African-Americans performers as Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway often played at the club, blacks were initially denied admission.
You can visit Harlem together with the two Uppers -- West and East. The Hop On Hop Off system leaves you totally free to get on and off whenever and wherever you want, taking all the time you need to discover the two neighborhoods.