5.6 out of 10

East Harlem

Ranked 35th best neighborhood in Manhattan
40.7938685787414 -73.9414199798625
Great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Internet Access
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Eating Out
  • Public Transport
Not great for
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Childcare
  • Nightlife
  • Schools
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Dec 13, 2012

"Like a Phoenix from the ashes"

East Harlem aka Spanish Harlem is a neighborhood on the rise.

It has had a very negative past and is overcoming its bad reputation. It has its negative areas like all places but is much like Boston's South End in the 1980's...yes ladies and gentleman it is being gentrified.

Slow but surely.

The housing projects are plenty ( they get an undeserved bad rap) but I have never encountered any problems there. Just use common sense...there are plenty of Police and is actually reasonably safe.

My partner and I are gay light skinned men who have lived here for 4 years now. It is perfectly safe for us. It has seen as of late a more young and diverse population renting in the area.

Although mostly Hispanic (formerly Puerto Rican's and Dominican) it has in recent years to my observation greatly become more Mexican and Central American..with urban hipsters, college students, Gay and Lesbian of all ethnicity's and new families with children and diverse incomes resettling the area.

Having lived in L.A, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and Boston I must say I really really like the area.

It was rough in the beginning because transportation is challenging.
The 116 bus is not overly reliable and often over crowded.
The 6 is good but overcrowded at times...BUT this is NYC.
You need to work the metro 6. (Take to 125th and switch to the 4 or 5 express)...Its a 15 minute walk from 1st and Pleasant to the 2/3 which is express to the whole West side to Brooklyn.

It's easy to get to La Guardia but a real PIA to get to JFK.

This is my opinion both pro and con as a light skinned gay male (if any ones going to get beat up it's me), and is shared by several other friends who are all diverse. My advise to renters, buyer's and tourists is as follows:

Pleasant Ave to Lexington is safe. It's very nice and has an Italian flavor to it. Go up to 120th but no further. 125th is the frontier...2nd Ave and 3rd from 120th up has a lot of methadone clinics and is not the safest area after 10pm, just use common sense and street smarts. (Good shopping during the daylight hours).
Avoid 125th and Lexington until Malcom X Blvd at night...just avoid it! enough said...
Do not go North of this point if you are lighter skinned, gay/Lesbian or female. It is rough....(not dangerous but definitely enough to really make you hate East Harlem/Harlem) it is the ONLY area in the USA I have never felt welcome in because of my skin color.

Crime is also an issue here. So just be advised.

Best rule of thumb: Any points south of 125th is safe. (Except area I mentioned)..Do not go North of 125th ...YET.

Now for those who are younger or like to go out: the nightlife sucks.
There are some awesome places like Blue Violin and Creole and a few brunch places that are awesome. However this is not the upper East or West side. There is not a lot to choose from and feel comfortable in.

The parks are clean and the streets with their festivals definitely come alive in the spring/summer/ and Fall.

The diversity here is wonderful.( I would not live anywhere else in NYC).

But...but the best part is the rent. You get more bang for your buck. It is so worth it to have a 5' x 7' bathroom! and 1200 Sq feet of living space!

Also, if you are a female you will be fine.

Don't mind a few appreciatory whistles! say thank you and keep walking. Just be safe, situationally aware and late at night have a friend with you.

People, don't be afraid. The people and the neighborhood is very welcoming. Just don't be rigid in your opinions.

Be open, accept that we are all different. East Harlem has shown to me to be a very tolerant, pleasurable and definitely exciting area of NYC to live.

Being on the frontier of change is exciting and has it's pro's and con's.
Pros
  • The mall at 117th and Pleasant. Costco, Old Navy, Marshalls, Target and other stores.
  • Tolerant of diversity.
  • Close to La Guardia.
  • affordable rents
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
  • Cheaper than elsewhere in Manhattan
  • East Harlem hosts the bulk of the city's Charter schools
Cons
  • 125th north is rough.
  • E120th (2nd ave area is a bit dodgy).
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
jerez88
jerez88 Good to know that there are other gay couples in the area.. :) thanks for your own input on this.. I hope others like ourselves and situate themselves in East Harlem and see for themselves!
Dec 28, 2012
valgb
valgb I live in a luxury building on 127th and find your comments about the area above 125th between Madison and ACP quite baffling. My area is pretty much entirely a residential enclave of charming brownstones and several new condos, but it is very safe. Lenox Ave. above 125th is home to some of the most popular spots in Harlem, like Red Rooster, Corner Social, Cove Lounge, chez Lucienne and the World Famous Sylvia's. What exactly are you talking about??
Jan 18, 2013
MelissaVoelker
MelissaVoelker Thank you for this! Very helpful!
Apr 25, 2014
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5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
May 10, 2012

"Much better than other reviews make it out to be"

In many ways East Harlem reminds me of the way New York used to be. Working class, less hustle and bustle, still many indie shops and restaurants, less traffic, easier to park, much more affordable and most of all, it's close to some of the most prime real estate in the world. Having lived here for almost 4 years (coming from the Upper East side) we just recently purchased a loft condo that below 96th street would have cost several million dollars, for less than the cost of a tiny 1 bedroom anywhere else. We moved here to have a large space in Manhattan, and it has improved the quality of our life, even if we do have to travel a little bit to enjoy the best of NYC.

While there are a number of project type buildings around, we quickly found out that the ones surrounding us are actually well kept middle income co-ops (with their own security force). The tenants all seem to have decent jobs, are quite pleasant and many have extremely nice cars which they park in their $30-$90 parking spots. And living across from those buildings does have its benefits, being a double wide street across from set back buildings, many trees, lawns, squirrels and birds.

We have found the people in our building and community to be extremely friendly with a great sense of looking out for one another, and mutual respect. Many of the lower income people in the neighborhood are working families (with many Mexican families) who are lovely, and whose value systems are just like anyone else's; live and let live. I have come home from the 110th street 6 train station or my parking garage near that station ($250 for indoor parking in a brand new building!!!) at 3AM and have never felt the slightest bit vulnerable (though I am a guy). There is a heavy Police presence in the area as well - just don't speed driving up First Avenue at night!

There are new restaurants opening all the time, fantastic shopping at nearby Costco and Target (with 4 more stories being added to that shopping Plaza), a few very good supermarkets (though plenty of poor ones) and some fantastic french bakeries (La Tropezienne). And with the Select Service busses running express stops up and down 1st and 2nd Avenues, it only takes a few minutes to be on 86th street.

Sometimes we feel like we are cheating the system - a very large apartment at a reasonable price, right next door to the "rest" of Manhattan. Will it ever evolve to the density of the Upper East side? No, but we're fine with that, and evidently so are some of our neighbors who have very healthy incomes and could live in other areas if they wished to.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Feb 26, 2012

"East Harlem – The Biggest Problem Is Landlords"

East Harlem would be a great place to live...if greedy landlords would make more apartments available. Many are warehousing units in residential buildings, making money off of main floor commercial tenants. But if you look hard enough, you may find something fabulous.

As rents go, East Harlem is one of New York’s more affordable neighborhoods. In contrast to areas to the south and west, great deals can be had on studios and one-bedrooms. Another plus is that many of the buildings are rented by the owners themselves through their agents, so you won’t get hit with broker fees...which can equal a month’s rent or more.

New York apartments are notoriously small, and that’s true in East Harlem, too. Fortunately, a number of affordably priced storage facilities in the neighborhood make it possible for residents to give out-of-season gear and clothing a home of its own, without having to pay top dollar for the space.

East Harlem is considered a ‘middle income’ area, with incomes ranging from $35,000 to $60,000 per person...or $70,000 - $120,000 per household, since most East Harlem families are dual-income households. It is rapidly attracted young professionals, such as healthcare workers, as well as hipsters looking to pay a more reasonable rent.

East Harlem is quite different than West Harlem, which is primarily identified with the African American community. In East Harlem, the dominant ethnic group is Spanish-speaking which has led to the area being known as ‘Spanish Harlem.’ The lively nightlife and street life reflect the friendly, outdoor-orientation of Latin cultures. It is also home to a large Italian population. There are young professionals, including healthcare workers and financial analysts, as well as a growing number of waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and cooks who are kept busy in East Harlem’s plentiful restaurants and bars.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
  • Cheaper than elsewhere in Manhattan
  • East Harlem hosts the bulk of the city's Charter schools
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
  • Dirty
  • Still a bit dingy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Dec 31, 2011

"Spanish Harlem, Great Spanish Food!"

If there is one thing I recommend in Spanish Harlem is it's food! From 96th to 116th street along 5th Avenue, one can find some great spots that offer some mouth watering Spanish food at reasonable prices. The area is also good for shopping for economical things. Close to Central Park you also have access to the greenery of the park but be sure not to go in at night. New Yorkers know better than to venture in after dark. The area is economical for those looking for an affordable place to live but given the local poverty, it's not the nicest places to live. Don't get me wrong, people will be friendly, but if you are looking for ritzy this is not it.

You may be able to find some really nice buildings along the borders of the area, some with doormen. These are the best bets for professionals as they will be competitvely priced. Transportation abounds so you will be able to zip to any part of the city.

Closest points of interest: Cathedral of St John the Divine (beautiful, a must see!), Columbia University's campus, and Tom's Restaurant (the facade is used in the opening of Seinfeld)

Spanish speakers will feel right at home here in this part of the city. You can also find great food specialty stores for latin cuisine.
Pros
  • affordable rents
Cons
  • crime rates
  • Still a bit dingy
Recommended for
  • Hipsters
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Oct 16, 2011

"Fighting the negativity, day by day."

When we moved five years ago to East Harlem from the Upper West Side, friends asked us "Why?" citing the fact that "Nobody lives there." Well, actually, lots of people live here, and for the most part, they are hardworking, largely immigrant families who are concerned with living their own lives. Like most other communities, there are a few people that bring the place down. Not surprisingly, they are largely poor young men of color: We've all heard the statistics about dropouts and incarceration. But then again, they are also mostly concerned with each other and tend to leave the rest of us alone. Let's face it, there will always be those who will equate the sheer presence of poor people of color with crime, so for them, the neighborhood can never be a place they'd consider moving to. For us, the only problem we've had in five years is the guy who got drunk one night, thought that our building was his, and rang the bell repeatedly at 2 AM.

To combat our community's negative image, we, as longtime television producers, launched a television program, eHarlemTV, about the good things that happen here. There are good things about East Harlem, and it just keeps getting even better.

By the way, the grocery store around the corner continues to evolve with the neighborhood and the selection has improved probably 500% since we first moved here. And the prices are good, too!
Pros
  • Ethnic diversity.
  • The new CUNY/Hunter College complex at 119th and Third
  • The shopping mall at 116th - walking distance - that has Manhattan's only Costco and Target.
  • affordable rents
  • Cheaper than elsewhere in Manhattan
Cons
  • 125th and Lex
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 11, 2011

"A Neighborhood in Transition"

East Harlem, also known ans Spanish Harlem (SpaHa) is an eclectic neighborhood made up of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. It runs on the east side of Upper Manhattan from 96th Street to the Harlem River. There are Hispanic families from the Caribbean (especially Puerto Rico) and those from Central and South America living and working in the neighborhood. There are fewer immigrants as the gentrification of the Upper East Side continues its northward migration combined with the portions of southern Harlem creeping westward. The most evident upswing in the neighborhood is the newly developed Target and Costco Mall located on 188th Street and the East River.

There is a gradation in how expensive real estate in the area is but, in general the farther south and closer to Central park the more expensive the property. Because of the diverse cultures, East Harlem is one of the best laces in the city for great food. The area also offers many bargain stores for everything from furniture to handbags to household goods. There are also street vendors who sell some of the best street meat you will ever come across, along with tasty empanadas and burritos.

Over the past decade, crime in the area has dropped significantly over the past decade or so as gentrification has begun to encroach on the area. There are newly developed condos and apartment buildings, that most current residents cannot afford. The neighborhood is still in transition and the next few years will likely see further gentrification with many current residents priced out of the area. You will find both housing projects and luxury residences. However, it is advisable that bore you sign on the dotted line, you check out the area you wish to live after dark to make sure it is safe. Talk to current residents about safety and crime and make sure that all basic amenities are in close proximity. It is worth noting that East Harlem is the location of many charter schools.

There are several museums in the area located on what is commonly known as Museum Mile. El Museo del Barrio located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 104th Streeth showcases Latin American art. The fun Museum of the City of New York is located one block sought on 103rd Street.

While the area does have its pros and cons for the present it is an affordable neighborhood to live in if you must be in Manhattan.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
  • East Harlem hosts the bulk of the city's Charter schools
  • Cheaper than elsewhere in Manhattan
  • close to Columbia
  • excellent restaurants
  • Gentrified
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
  • Still a bit dingy
  • Hard to get to
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 10, 2011

"Getting Much Better But Still Not Where You Want To Be"

The rep that East Harlem gets stems from the rep that all of New York got during the crime crazy 70s and 80s. Since the Giuliani administration, the area has gotten much safer and many more New Yorkers make the trip up for the great food and new shopping options.

Living here is cheaper than the rest of the city but the neighborhood is on the rise which means so are the rents. According to government stats, about a quarter of the East Harlem population lives in public housing. It is not the safest area, mostly because it is one of the poorest areas of New York.

On the bright side, the neighborhood is moving away from its crime riddled history into a large Latino community (largely Caribbean) best known for its food and style. At the same time, the new shopping centers (Costco, Target) and the new condos going up means that the area is quickly changing, for better and for worse.

Regardless of what the future holds, Spanish Harlem has greatly improved over the past two decades and is well worth the visit, though best to go during the day.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
  • Still a bit dingy
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
Dec 31, 2010

"Affordable but still somewhat crime-ridden neighborhood"

East Harlem is actually Spanish Harlem, a traditionally Latino neighborhood (largely Puerto Rican) that has gentrified a bit in recent years and become slightly more diverse. It runs on the east side of upper Manhattan from 96th Street up to the Harlem River. Al Pacino hails from this neighborhood, as well as singer Marc Anthony.

You'll find a bunch of museums in this area on what is known as Museum Mile, which runs through part of East Harlem and extends south of the neighborhood. El Museo del Barrio contains Latin American art and is located at Fifth Avenue and 104th Street. The wonderful Museum of the City of New York is one block south on the avenue at 103rd Street.

East Harlem has had crime problems and has been known as a neighborhood for the poor, but the crime rate has improved at least a bit in recent years. Today, you'll find both housing projects and luxury buildings in the area. It's still more affordable than most of Manhattan, but if you decide to live here, you should thoroughly check out the immediate area around the apartments you're considering. Ask questions of the locals about safety, and make sure there's a grocery nearby, as the neighborhood doesn't really have enough.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
  • East Harlem hosts the bulk of the city's Charter schools
  • close to Columbia
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
  • Dirty
  • terrible grocery stores
  • Still a bit dingy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Dec 29, 2010

"Overshadowed by Safety Concerns"

East Harlem is rich in history and culture. It has long served as the hub for Hispanic immigrants in Manhattan, and the evidence of this lies in notable Hispanics from the community, as well as neighborhood institutions like delicious and authentic Latin restaurants. Central Park borders the southern part of the area. Brownstones line the streets. There is plenty of bargain shopping, where, similar to Chinatown, you can get everyday needs for much lower prices.

Unfortunately, most of this is overshadowed by the area's crime rates and overall state of disrepair. While a general dirty, dingy quality hangs over those brownstones, the crime factor keeps people away from the amazing restaurants come nighttime. The area remains almost exclusive to its residents, for better or worse. What East Harlem has to offer might be great, but it's nothing you can't find elsewhere in Manhattan without the safety risks, so that's just what most New Yorkers do.

New conveniences like the Target and Costco shopping center will bring some Manhattanites up just for that trip, and are signs of the first stages of gentrification. But for now, East Harlem can only really offer cheap apartments if you're willing to deal with the disadvantages at hand.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
  • Dirty
1/5
Dec 28, 2010

"The Last Place I'd Live"

East Harlem is the last place you want to live. In fact, I'd probably leave the city before I lived here.

Is there culture? Absolutely. Are there good restaurants? Absolutely. Is it safe? Unfortunately, it's not.

This may not be the case forever, but for now this is a neighborhood to avoid. Tourists should not venture out here and renters should look elsewhere. It's just a bad place.

The crime and criminals that lurk and loiter in East Harlem don't necessarily live in East Harlem. Most of them come to East Harlem from the outer boroughs. I don't know why there is, but something about the area invites mischief.

Likewise, not everyone who lives in East Harlem is a criminal. However, the area continues to suffer from high crime rates. A friend of mine is an NYPD officer stationed up there and his stories are sad and horrible.

To its credit, there are some excellent Latin-infused restaurants and cultural significance to the area. Likewise, many brownstones (with some renovation) could become lovely homes. I look forward to the day where it's safe for everyone to explore the potential of this area. Until that day comes, safety concerns will outweigh East Harlem's promise.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Oct 08, 2010

"Much ethnic flare still in evidence"

To understand East Harlem it’s important to understand that it isn’t a homogenous neighborhood. The price and quality of housing differs drastically depending on the area. Generally, the farther south and the closer to Central Park North you look, the more expensive the area is. That’s purely a generalization, mind you.

Unlike much of the eastern side of Manhattan, Spanish Harlem maintains its ethnic sensibilities. There are still working class Hispanic families, from the Caribbean (especially Puerto Rico) and Central and South America, living and working in this neighborhood. There are fewer immigrants than in past decades, which means the culture of the Upper East Side has begun to eat away at the southern section of the neighborhood and the up-and-coming portions of southern Harlem are pushing into its western border. The most readily apparent evidence of this is the Target/Costco structure on 118th by the river. But make no mistake, Spanish Harlem is still going strong.

It’s one of he best places in the city to get great food. It’s also fantastic for finding bargains on all manner of things. There are knock-off purses and amazing empanadas sold on the same corner. There are stands selling the best street meat you’ll ever eat.

Crime has dropped significantly in the last decade or so. Gentrification has brought in condos and nicer apartment buildings, which most of the current residents cannot afford to live in. It’s a neighborhood in transition. But right now it can be an affordable and convenient place to live.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Mar 21, 2010

"One of those places considered "up and coming""

Also known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio, East Harlem has historically suffered from all the problems associated with poverty, including high crime rates and drug abuse. As such, it forms a strange and shocking contrast to its immediate neighbor Carnegie Hill, which is one of the most expensive and sough after neighborhoods in New York. East Harlem is predominantly Puerto Rican, though a small enclave of the area's original Italian American neighborhood remains. Some notable institutions in the area include the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Academy of Art, and the Museum of African Art. In recent years, young and affluent people have started to move into the neighborhood, seeking affordable alternatives to neighborhoods like Carnegie Hill. As a result, worries that gentrification will drive out the neighborhood's poor resident base have caused increasing tensions. On the one hand, the influx of these wealthier residents spurs on neighborhood revitalization and helps improve quality of life all around, but on the other hand, low income residents see it as a sign that there is no place any more for them in Manhattan. There are no easy answers to this one, but East Harlem is one of those neighborhoods considered so dangerous, that children are required to pass through metal detectors in order to go to school.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • East Harlem hosts the bulk of the city's Charter schools
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
Cons
  • crime rates
  • terrible grocery stores
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 16, 2010

"Rough and Tumble Neighborhood"

East Harlem which is also popularly known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem extends from 96th street to 125th street from Fifth Avenue to the East River. The area is called Spanish Harlem for it is one of the city’s largest Hispanic enclaves. The real estate scenario of this area is made up of row houses, pre-war and post war co-op buildings that house relatively large one and two bedroom apartments as well as old time tenement buildings and low income housing projects.
During the real estate boom years, this area which is chock a block with discount stores, bodegas, mom and pop supply stores and beauty salons also saw much hectic construction activity as new luxurious condos like 1200 Fifth Avenue, Aura (330, East 109th Street) and Observatory Place condo on First avenue and 104th street were constructed to primarily target those home owners who were priced out of the downtown Manhattan. However the recession has now slowed sales in these luxurious developments though the neighborhood continues to evolve. In fact the neighborhood has recently acquired a brand new huge retail development in the form of the East River Plaza mall which hugs the FDR drive on 116th street and has within its massive bowels Manhattan’s first Costco. Other big retailers set to occupy the Plaza include Best Buy, Marshall’s and Manhattan’s first Target store.
The star attraction of the area is however the El Museo del Barrio museum which is located on Fifth Avenue and 105th Streets which is New York City’s leading Latino Cultural institution which is included in the list of Museum mile museums. The rough and tumble neighborhood actually has many great restaurants like the original Patsy’s Pizzeria which opened in 1933 on 118 th street and first avenue and the iconic Rao’s restaurant which is located on 114th Street and Pleasant Avenue which was founded in 1896. Other popular restaurants include ethnic food eateries like Sister Caribbean Cuisine on 124th Street and Madison Avenue, One Fish Two Fish on 97th Street and Madison Avenue and the Moustache Restaurant on 102nd Street and Lexington Avenue.
Pros
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • East Harlem hosts the bulk of the city's Charter schools
  • affordable rents
  • excellent restaurants
Cons
  • crime rates
  • dingy apartments
  • Dirty
  • far from downtown
  • terrible grocery stores
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
Mar 15, 2010

"Slow gentrification but still mostly a working class neighborhood"

These days a lot of twenty-somethings are moving up to Spanish Harlem for the attractively low rent price tags (which means, say, a room in a three bedroom/1 bathroom apartment for about $600). The neighborhood is of course historically Hispanic, and it still greatly shows, however slowly the area is being gentrified. The past decade has seen much improvement in this, one of Manhattan’s notoriously gritty neighborhoods. Unsurprisingly, upgrades in the area began around the southern border, around East 96th and 97th Streets, where condos reminiscent of the neighboring Upper East Side started popping up. As you move further north, the area is decidedly a working class Latino neighborhood, worthy of its nickname, El Barrio.

I wouldn’t say that this is a tourist’s dream, but there are a number of Latin-style eateries that make the train ride all the way up Manhattan well worth it. Amor Cubano is one such place – the restaurant not only offers remarkable food but often has live music as well, and the fact that it attracts so many Cuban immigrants certainly bodes well for its dishes.
Pros
  • the new shopping mall at 125th which has the city's only Costco outlet and Manhattan's first Target
  • Cheaper than elsewhere in Manhattan
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
  • Dirty
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Mar 11, 2010

"Known for Latin influences but getting a real hike in the hip artist / student community"

East Harlem, or Spanish Harlem, has long been known for being overwhelmingly, predominantly, Latin in demographic. But, in the last few years, there has been a big movement of artists, students, and service industry workers that are moving all the way up to this neighborhood after being priced out of their previous haunts.
Spanish Harlem is a cool place to visit, but I personally, wouldn't live there. It's really far uptown, really far east and a little too ungentrified for my liking. But, some people love it.
It's worth taking a trip up to see the Museo del Barrio (if you're into this) -- its at the top of Museum Row and it houses all young Latin and Caribbean artists as well any art that celebrates Latin influence. Keith Haring's "Crack is Whack" mural is still up and celebrated at 128th and 2nd.
The late night salsa dancing in Spanish Harlem is great fun if maybe a little scary; but, the one thing to do if you can is go to Rao's. A tiny restaurant in the neighborhood is the most notoriously difficult establishment to get a table in the entire city. With only a few tables to boast of, you either have to buy a table like former mayor Guiliani, hope a table is bequeathed to you by someone else, or make a reservation about a year in advance. But, it's worth it.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • close to Columbia
  • excellent restaurants
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
  • terrible grocery stores
  • dingy apartments
  • Dirty
Recommended for
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Dec 23, 2009

"Gentrification opening up this classically Hispanic neighborhood"

East Harlem - also known as Spanish Harlem, or El Barrio - is a thriving Hispanic community in North Manhattan, one as vital for the culture and identity of the Hispanic community as Harlem proper is for African Americans. With a strong building boom happening, more and more condominiums and co-ops alike are becoming available to middle-class buyers: rather than the artsy, overpriced gentrification of some southern neighborhoods, El Barrio's gentrification is opening the neighborhood up to families looking to buy a starter home, particularly a brownstone.

The crime is relatively low - and the statistics have only been going down. Meanwhile, El Barrio has a fantastic culinary scene especially when it comes to traditional Mexican and South American cuisine - try the poblano de pollo at La Hacienda on 116th Street. Or for some insight into Hispanic culture, the Museum del Barrio on 5th and 104th provides a historic look into the neighborhood's past.
Pros
  • Cheaper than elsewhere in Manhattan
  • Gentrified
  • Great South/Central American restaurants
Cons
  • Still a bit dingy
  • Hard to get to
  • far from downtown
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
3/5
Mar 19, 2009

"Short on funds, move here!"

East Harlem is known as Spanish Harlem, or El Barrio and is located in the northeastern part of Manhattan. This community used to be known as Italian Harlem, but today only a small number of Italians reside in this predominately Latino neighborhood.

The neighborhood is most known to me as the home to shows like BET’s 106 & Park and The Chapelle Show. Although it is known to locals as home of Mount Sinai Hospital. The medical facility provides care to residents of Harlem as well as East Harlem and Upper East Side.

The ever-increasing cost of living in Manhattan has driven many young urban professionals (most Caucasians) to this neighborhood as well as nearby Yorkville and the Upper East Side, to take advantage of less expensive rent and living expenses.

I don't recommend most of this district for families with kids, but for singles and younger couples, it may just work.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5
Feb 25, 2009

"Wouldn't recommend moving in, but there is culture to be had for visitors"

East Harlem borders on the affluent Upper East Side, but the two neighborhoods are worlds away from each other – not just because of the differences in residents’ incomes, but in the architecture of the apartment buildings (and housing projects), and outward appearance of shops and restaurants as well.
It’s no secret that neighborhoods that have their share of poverty also have their share of crime, and though the crime rates around here have dropped incredibly in the past decade or so, this neighborhood is not as safe as its neighbor the Upper East Side.
If you are a tourist looking for the scenes of Woody Allen films, you won’t find them here. But you will find a certain charm in these worn-out streets, and you will certainly find some pretty good comida latina at places like Don Pedro’s or Camaradas El Barrio (though don’t expect too much in the way of supermarkets).

Best Streets in East Harlem

1

East River Dr

4.5/5
"A great place to walk, jog, and tan! "
40.7885269411825 -73.9379269492612
2

1st Ave

4/5
"Great energy but very noisy"
40.8025029337929 -73.930585677776
3

Park Ave

3.5/5
"all business midtown, all high class uptown"
40.7992357947059 -73.9432925939112
4

Pleasant Ave

3.5/5
"Pleasant East East Harlem"
40.7957025596282 -73.9326829699286
5

Lexington Ave

3.5/5
"Columbia street in my mind"
40.7961710508776 -73.9434104422789
6

Madison Ave

3/5
"A Mixed Bag"
40.7918156498315 -73.9508138026838
7

East 110th St

2.5/5
"Decent Place to Go"
40.7936605054129 -73.9416834920358
8

East 97 St

2/5
"Gorgeous block, at least near the park"
40.7860832232736 -73.9493226161569
9

East 122 St

1.5/5
"Worst Neighborhood in Manhattan"
40.8021573116731 -73.9381489674682

Unranked Streets in East Harlem

2 Ave

2/5
"A little scary part of Harlem."
40.7953640207367 -73.9389754675967