Reasons to Love Harlem

by A Collier
reasons to love harlem

Reasons to Love Harlem

Harlem is known for live jazz music, soul food restaurants, and many monuments and historic landmarks dedicated to the Black experience in America. So today, let’s talk about some of the many reasons to love Harlem.

reasons to love harlem

Harlem is known for live jazz music, soul food restaurants, and many monuments and historic landmarks dedicated to the Black experience in America. So today, let’s talk about some of the many reasons to love Harlem.

With a name like HarlemAmerica, you know we have to show our love to Harlem as much as possible. If you’re not familiar with the area, check out our Quick History of Harlem and 3 Things Harlem Gave Us blog articles.

Harlem is known for live jazz music, soul food restaurants, and many monuments and historic landmarks dedicated to the Black experience in America. So today, let’s talk about some of the many reasons to love Harlem.

And don’t forget to watch the amazing YouTube video from ALL NYC that inspired this article.

The Shopping

In the last 20 or so years, Harlem has attracted many new stores – from big chains to small, high-end boutiques. As Harlem tries to hold its own and preserve its culture in the wake of gentrification, we can all do our part by shopping at Harlem-based small businesses.

There are tons of small shops and street vendors selling unique, African, and black culture-inspired wares.

A must-visit for great Harlem shopping is the Malcom Shabazz Harlem Market which specializes in colorful African goods. You can find authentic goods from Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana while you listen to global music, sample traditional African food, and more.

Some other great shopping areas are 125th Street, 116th Street, Frederick Douglass Boulevard, and Amsterdam Avenue.

Museums, Museums, Museums

Coming from the Upper East Side, Museum Mile in NYC extends well into Harlem on 5th


Check out these great spots on the Mile and elsewhere around Harlem:

  • Museum of the City of New York – where you can learn about New York City’s complete history
  • El Museo del Barrio – NYC’s only museum dedicated to presenting and preserving the art and culture of Puerto Ricans and all Latin Americans through extensive collections, varied exhibitions and publications, bilingual public programs, educational activities, festivals, and special events.
  • The Africa Center – devoted to education and contemporary African art.
  • The Studio Museum – features works by artists of African descent and work that has been inspired and influenced by Black culture.
  • The National Jazz Museum – dedicated to preserving the jazz history of Harlem.
  • Though it’s much more than a museum, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library, caters to the research and exhibition of artifacts focused on the history and culture of people of African descent.

Street Art

New York is full of amazing examples of street art of all styles, and Harlem is no exception. The best spots to check out include the Graffiti Wall of Fame on E 106th Street, the Crack is Wack Playground, and more. You can also just take a stroll or book a walking tour in Harlem and find tons of huge and hidden gems throughout the neighborhoods.

The Food

If you are looking for authentic Caribbean, African, Latino, or soul food, Harlem is the right place for you.

For soul food, try Amy Ruth’s, Sylvia’s, Melba’s, or the Red Rooster. And that’s just the beginning!

For Caribbean, there’s Sisters Cuisine, Kingston, Freddy’s Soul, and more.

For African, try Safari, Les Ambassades, and La Savane.

For Puerto Rican food, check out Cuchifritos, La Fonda Boricua, El San Juan, and lots more.

The Apollo Theater

The Apollo Theater was the first theater in America to desegregate its audiences. You can learn more about its history in our other blog post. Stars like James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5, and many other household names got their start at the Apollo.

Beautiful Parks

Enjoy some quality time outdoors in Harlem. Probably not the first place you were thinking in NYC to get outside, right? Harlem has plenty of outdoor pools, sports fields, and parks to satisfy all your sunny day needs.

The Jackie Robinson Park was built with the purpose of bringing the community together. IT was also one of the first original Harlem parks to have a pool. St. Nicholas Park has lots of barbequing areas, handball and basketball courts, and playgrounds. Riverbank State Park was inspired by urban rooftop designs in Japan and is a multi-level landscaped recreational area that overlooks the Hudson River. And these are just the beginning!

Hamilton Grange

Hamilton Grange is another reason to love Harlem. IT was once the home of founding father Alexander Hamilton, who came from humble beginnings as an orphan on the Caribbean island of Nevis and became George Washington’s right-hand man. It’s now a national memorial and museum.

General Grant National Memorial

The General Grant National Memorial is the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife – it is also the largest mausoleum in North America. This is an often-overlooked historical spot in Harlem, so make sure you don’t miss it when you visit!

Harlem’s Historic Districts

Harlem, known so well for its amazing and diverse history, is also home to a bunch of historic districts. You can see these districts scattered throughout the neighborhoods as they showcase gorgeous buildings and facades.

The St. Nicholas Historic District, also known as Strivers’ Row, consists of row houses and associated buildings built in 1891–93 by developer David H. King Jr. It’s considered an outstanding example of 19th-century urban design.

The Central Harlem Historic District consists of 164 19th-century row houses where many actors and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance lived.

Do some research on all the historic districts Harlem has to offer, and plan a day of walking, driving, or riding so you can see all the amazing history that has been preserved in Harlem.

Continuing Harlem’s History Today

HarlemAmerica Digital Network is a network dedicated to amplifying Black voices, just as Harlem has been the mecca for Black culture for over 100 years. If you are a black entertainer or entrepreneur, host your podcast with a full production team at your service.

Check out our website to learn more about our small business membership packages.

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