6.7 out of 10

Harlem

Ranked 23rd best neighborhood in Manhattan
40.8148635531356 -73.9454364951913
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Public Transport
  • Cost of Living
  • Eating Out
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Pest Free
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Safe & Sound
  • Clean & Green
Who lives here?
  • Singles
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students

Reviews

2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Mar 30, 2014

"Harlem - a mixed bag"

I have two experiences with Harlem. One as a resident at West 125th Street and Morningside Ave and another as a professional working at Frederick Douglass and the upper West 140s.

As a Resident on 125th street:

Pros =
-close to Columbia, so great for students. I walked to class.
-Near the ABCD train. The A and D are express, get to 59th street in 10 minutes.
-Cheap rent, pretty apartment, decent size
-Close to shopping like H&M, Old Navy, other cheap clothing stores
-Near the Apollo

Cons =
-dangerous and uncomfortable for women. I got cat-called every time I stepped out of my door walking on my street
-Far walk from the nearest grocery store
-dirty
-across from the projects
-person shot in front of my building.

So even though that area is definitely improving, if you are a Columbia student, live closer to Broadway and you will be fine. It is a completely different experience living near the 1 train.

Tourists will probably enjoy walking up and down 125th street. It is good for shopping and touring.

-----------------------------------

Ok so now on to North Harlem near 145th street and Frederick Douglass/Adam Clayton Powell

Pros =
-proximity to ABCD express trains
-the Jackie Robinson park (just be careful esp at night - transgender woman murdered there, theft, etc)
-cheap rent
-large spaces
-cheap eating

Cons =
-cat calling
-not safe at night
-nowhere to eat besides chains
-unhealthy food options
-dirty
-the city never bothers to really plow when there is snow
-big hills means hard to walk!

I would be careful walking north of 150th street. The neighborhood isn't that great to live in. If you are going to live in Harlem I wouldn't necessarily recommend this area. Live closer to Broadway at 145th or on Edgecombe is nice.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • close to Columbia
  • close to major transport
Cons
  • crime rates
  • Dirty
  • Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 1/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
May 22, 2013

"Good for young professionals, bad for families"

We've been in Central Harlem for the last two years, but are about to move to a more family-friendly area.

About three years ago, we were renting in midtown, and started looking for a decently sized place to buy. We didn't expect to like Harlem due to reputation, but we went up and checked it out, and found that there was a fair amount of decent commerce-- in some parts. I also reviewed the city crime statistics, and learned that it was really pretty safe-- not significantly more dangerous than "nicer" parts of the Island. Plus, everything is still a lot cheaper than anything lower in Manhattan, and the neighborhood is certainly gentrifying. And, if you're close enough to 125th/FDB or to Lennox, it's incredibly quick and convenient to get to midtown. Sounds great!

Now I've got two years under my belt of actually living in the neighborhood. The value of our condo went up by about 70% in those two years, reflecting the continued gentrification. But, there are some downsides to the neighborhood as well.

First, the public schools are utterly abysmal. There are some great charter schools, but they're tough to get into. At high-school age this doesn't matter too much, but it's particularly horrible for elementary school. This is a primary reason for us moving away.

Second, much of the neighborhood is still pretty devoid of commerce. 8th ave from the park to 125th is built up. 125th is obviously built up. And Lennox is built up a bit above and a bit below 125th. These areas are continuing to improve, for instance with the forthcoming Whole Foods. However, If you're significantly north of 125th, there's just not enough decent commerce. There are commerce corridors on 145th (and to a lesser degree on 135th) that are better than nothing, but only slightly.

Really, Central Harlem is two neighborhoods:

1) The FDB corridor, which runs from central park to 125th and from 5th ave to Morningside Park.
2) Everything north of that.

#2 isn't a great neighborhood at all, except in so far as you might be close to the 125th street corridor. And 125th street itself is too low-rent. Sure, we just got a gap outlet, but even the big chain stores coming in are more low-rent-- Red Lobster and Joe's Crab Shack? There are exceptions like Whole Foods, but 125th doesn't have all that much to offer to the gentrifiers yet. I do expect that to change fairly quickly, and this strip will start getting nicer.

Lennox and 8th (FDB) are both already very nice, particularly FDB. My wife has an issue that it's all TOO nice, particularly for dining. All the restaurants are aspiring to be posh. There's no regular ol' Italian joint, but there are a couple of fancier places. Same with pizza. There is no normal comfort-food place like a diner, but there are more upscale comfort food places, like Harlem Tavern-- which is the place my wife most enjoys on the FDB corridor (though she's really excited about Harlem Shake, which we will visit soon, and we do love the desserts at Levain Bakery and Tonnie's Minis). So there's a decent amount of commerce in the FDB area, but it's not diverse enough yet.

The thing that bugs me most about Harlem is the lack of community. There are definitely a lot of long-time residents who don't make any qualms about their hostility toward those gentrifying the neighborhood-- though to be fair, there are about as many who are welcoming, and many many people who are mostly ambivalent. But the lack of community is more seen in the lack of civic pride-- nobody seems to care about putting their litter in trash cans. Even though the 125th Street BID picks up litter continually, there's always a sea of trash. There really just doesn't seem to be any recognition that it *could* be a beautiful neighborhood if everyone took care of things.

Walking through brownstone blocks, it's clear that, when built, this was a POSH neighborhood. But many of those blocks look shabby now-- as opposed to parts of Park Slope that look nice, even though they were built shabbily. The difference is all in community pride, IMHO. Hopefully this will get better as gentrification continues. But, gentrification will only go so far-- there are a large number of projects in the neighborhood, and I wouldn't ever expect that to change. That didn't bother us living here (even living right next door to a project), but it might bother others. At the very least, don't expect the kind of total gentrification that brownstone brooklyn has seen, mainly because there's only one in that entire neighborhood.

All in all, Central Harlem is middle of the road, but getting better fairly quickly (below 125th street in particular). I don't think it's yet a great place to raise a family yet, but I think it's currently a very attractive place for anyone younger, who wants easy access to midtown and some cool / nice places around. Plus, the cost of living is definitely quite good considering how accessible prime parts of manhattan are. So there's a lot to recommend, and it will only get better.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • close to Columbia
  • close to major transport
Cons
  • Horrible schools
  • Dirty
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Oct 01, 2012

"The Part Of New York that will always be an Individual."

Harlem. One of the hippest areas in New York. Music floats the streets as you shop and dine and enjoy all the nightlife. In 2005 Harlem had about 75 murders. In 2010 the murder rate dropped all the way to 39. Which means in 2012 it should be about 30 murders, and since were 3/4 into the year, there are still about 7 murders to be commited. Safe during the day, fairly sketchy at night. But, this neighborhood is a must see for nightlife, not to mention the apartment rates. 900$-1500$ for a one bedroom? Amazing!
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • excellent restaurants
  • rich cultural traditions
  • close to major transport
Cons
  • crime rates
  • Dirty
  • far from downtown
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 22, 2012

"Should be a top choice in choosing a Manhattan residence"

Harlem is thriving. Walk north of 125th on Lennox and see for yourself all the restaurants, shops and bodegas that ahve recently opened. The Red Rooster, Chez Lucienne and most recently the Social Corner. Go down 125th street to 12th and try to get into Dinosaurs BBQ without having an hour wait (also the best bbq I have eaten at). Slightly at an angle across fro Dinosaurs is a fantastic Fairway market. You will find people from all social, ethnic and financial walks of life shopping there. Walk down West131st street between Lennox and Adam Clayton Powell (7th ave.) and you'll see some of the most beautiful browmstones in all of Manhattan. Sit on your stoop and most people who'll pas by will do so with a friendly greeting or engage you with a neighbourly conversation. From 125th you are 4 subway stops away from West 72nd or 5 stops away from Times Square on the #2. If you find it watch "A Walk Through Harlem" a show which was shown on PBS and will enlighten anyone to Harlem's rich history and culture. I was lucky enough to be able to buy a home here in Harlem 10 years ago and have absolutely no desire to move from here..ever.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • rich cultural traditions
  • close to Columbia
  • excellent restaurants
  • close to major transport
Cons
  • as in any city going through a renaiscence some streets and neighborhoods are nicer than others but give it some time and it'll be as or even more in demand than other areas which have come up in the last 10-25 years.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Mar 08, 2012

"Harlem - Every Street is a Different Experience"

Harlem is many things to many people and that’s why the people who live there love it so. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Harlem’? A vibrant community made up of diverse cultures from Africa, the Caribbean, and the U.S.? Home to the Apollo Theatre, Lennox Lounge, and other iconic New York nightspots? A shopping mecca where you can find big box stores like Target and Costco, as well as street vendors selling incense and handmade soap. A neighborhood that is home to some of New York’s wealthiest residents, as well its poorest?

It’s all that and more.

Harlem is an enormous area runs from river to river – from the Hudson River on the west to the East river on the East. It’s northern is 155th Street, and it’s southern border is 96th Street (east of Central Park) and 110th Street (west of Central Park). The general area of Harlem is further sub-divided into Central Harlem (from 110th Street, at the northern boundary of Central Park, to West 155th Street) and East Harlem/Spanish Harlem (East 155th Street to 96th Street).

Central Harlem is enjoying significant gentrification, while East Harlem continues to struggle. The average listing price of a home in Central Harlem is less than three-quarters of a million dollars ($698,000) which is significantly lower than the median price throughout Manhattan ($1.98 million). The wealth in the area is reflected in good private schools, but public schools continue to be rough and dangerous as Harlem struggles to achieve greater political clout.

An easy way to get a feel for Harlem is on a guided sight-seeing bus ride. There are both day and night tours that will let you experience what it means to live in one of New York City’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • rich cultural traditions
  • close to Columbia
  • excellent restaurants
  • close to major transport
Cons
  • crime rates
  • Crowded
  • Dirty
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Dec 31, 2011

"Harlem: Bargains, Nightlife and Food!"

Harlem begins somewhere around 110th Street or so and ends at about 155th Street. I have never gone all the way up but having lived up by Columbia University, I have ventured as far as 125th Street for some soul food at Sylvia's and experienced wonderful morsels of Southern cuisine.

Another place that I have gone to visit is the Apollo Theater which is where Luther Vandross was discovered although as I hear it he was booed his first time out. Harlem used to be a music hot spot for jazz and was really hopping back in the day. Rents are affordable but safety and crime are still big concerns. Of course, there are some really wonderful doorman buildings about but you have to look a bit to find something that really suits your needs in an area you feel secure in. The lower portion of Harlem is nice as it's by Columbia University which offers everyone a nice venue to visit. It's campus is not to be missed. Shopping in Harlem offers lots of bargains but you won't find many high end goods. The best shopping avenue is 125th Street I hear.

The area is accessible by both train (which goes above ground once it's at 125th Street) and buses of course that run along Broadway and Columbus. Great restaurants abound though. They may be on the small side, but you can get great deals on food, and often they are gotten in places you will want to flock back to.
Pros
  • close to Columbia
Cons
  • crime rates
  • far from downtown
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Tourists
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 13, 2011

"The Birthplace of Blues and Jazz"

Harlem is the birthplace of jazz and blues. The Cotton Club and Savoy ballroom were once there and hosted such greats as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald. The Apollo still stands and is a testament to the thriving musical heritage of the Harlem Renaissance. It has long launched the careers of many Motown superstars such as The Jackson Five. On the day of Michael's death mourners laid hundreds of bouquets and cards at its door.

There are many great soul food restaurants with Sylvia's being the most popular for a diverse crowd, including local politicians and celebrities. Former President, Bill Clinton has an office here. Other popular restaurants include Rao's and the Lenox Lounge.

The neighborhood brownstones and churches boast some beautiful architecture but the area is slowly changing the gentrification of the past ten years continues to change its character. While the area is still relatively less expensive that lower parts of Manhattan, prices have been creeping upward as new buildings are developed and old ones gutted and renovated. There is also a real family feel to the area, although it will be necessary to exercise some caution with regard to selecting an apartment. Ask current residents about safety and crime before deciding on any one place. The apartments are larger than downtown, most offering large windows, hardwood floors, and high ceilings. Columbia University is a quick walk south but be careful coming home after dark.

The area is served by the 2 and 3 express trains, while those residents in the middle of the neighborhood also having easy access to the 4 and 5 on the east side. There is also a Metro North subway stop on 125th Street making a weekend country escape easy if you don't have a car.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • rich cultural traditions
  • excellent restaurants
  • close to Columbia
  • close to major transport
  • good place to find an awesome jazz band
Cons
  • crime rates
  • Crowded
  • can be creepy at night
  • Dirty
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jan 11, 2011

"Historic Area With Affordable Living...But With Some Crime"

Although Harlem is a historic area, famous for its contributions to African-American culture, music, and government. At the same time, it is also well known for its crime. Luckily, since 1990, crime has dropped dramatically from its peaks in the 1970s and 80s but remains one of the less safe parts of New York City.

Harlem has a lot to offer. The rents are affordable because the area is far from downtown and is not as nice as the rest of Manhattan. At the same time, if you are looking for affordable housing in one of the most expensive cities in the world, Harlem is a good place to look. Harlem is a very big neighborhood so to categorize it in one way is unfair. It has good areas and not-so-good areas so inquire beforehand.

For tourists, Harlem offers a ton of historic landmarks such as the Apollo Theater, Museum of New York, and Sylvia's Soul Food. This is one of the centers of African-American culture going back to the early 20th century and even a simple stroll down Astor Row (135th Street) can be educational.

If you are street smart and have lived around the city for some time, you should be right at home but Harlem, largely for its reputation, can be a little scary for visitors, even locals.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • rich cultural traditions
  • excellent restaurants
Cons
  • crime rates
  • Crowded
  • boring
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
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 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Dec 31, 2010

"Fascinating history - just proceed with caution"

Harlem is famous for great music but also for its crime rate. While there is still more crime in Harlem than in many neighborhoods in Manhattan, it has dropped significantly in recent years. And so much music was born in these blocks in the northern part of Manhattan that it gives me goose bumps whenever I'm there. The Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom used to be there, and Duke Ellington once walked the streets. The Apollo still stands as a testament to the vibrant arts community that thrived during what has become known as the Harlem Renaissance. It's still exciting to see a show at the Apollo and just imagine what it must have been like back in the day. If you like soul food, you can find great restaurants in Harlem, too.

Even though it's famous as an African-American neighborhood, that is a 20th century phenomenon, and the name of Harlem actually comes from the early Dutch settlers. Some fascinating architecture remains, and there are some great churches as well.

Modern day gentrification has been gradually taking place for more than ten years now. New apartments resulted, and prices went up. It's still a less expensive neighborhood than the majority in Manhattan, and there's a real family atmosphere. Just be careful about the immediate vicinity where you decide to move. Ask around about its safety before you sign a lease.
Pros
  • Good transportation
  • Rich history
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Dirty in places
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Students
3/5 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 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
Dec 29, 2010

"Manhattan's Epicenter of History - Just Enjoy with Caution"

Harlem is one of the richest neighborhoods in Manhattan for history and culture. Since before the Jazz Age, it has been a hotspot of breakout talent in the black community. You could spend the day here just wandering from one historical landmark to the next, encompassing nightclubs and neighborhood staple restaurants. The spirit lives on in cultural stalwarts like the Apollo Theater.

Streets of old-world brownstones alternate with streets of more modern apartment buildings. Incredibly authentic ethnic restaurants mix with familiar American chain restaurants. Bargain boutiques mingle with chain stores and conveniences like drugstores and supermarkets. It’s safe to say Harlem has all you could ask for, including very affordable rents, but many residents say the best thing about the neighborhood is the community itself – the children who play outside, the parents who sit and talk while watching them.

Still, the crime factor cannot be neglected. Many parts of Harlem, unfortunately, just are not safe. This explains the low rents. Many young professionals are willing to take their chances to score brownstones for less than anywhere else in Manhattan, but you have to be careful about where you’re looking to live – or visit. Harlem can be an amazing New York experience with some caution.
Pros
  • Rich history
  • Lots of conveniences and restaurants
  • Good transportation
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • No nightlife
  • Dirty in places
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Dec 26, 2010

"Good parts are very good, bad parts are very bad..."

Harlem has been "the next" great neighborhood for the last fifteen or so years. When you look at it on paper, it's easy to understand why.

The brownstones are absolutely beautiful, and Harlem has more than almost any area. Apartments are also spacious, even three bedroom apartments are affordable and generally very nice--big windows, hardwood floors, high ceilings.

Also, most of Harlem is accessible via the 2,3 express trains, and some lucky Harlem residents live between the 2, 3 express trains and the 4,5...the perfect position between the East and West subway lines. Metro North trains make country escapes easy, and 125th Street also leads to the George Washington Bridge and the RFK Bridge.

Affordable, convenient....great food spots like Sylvia's, Rao’s, and Lenox Lounge, an incredibly rich history with cultural significance? What's not to love? Even Bill Clinton has an office here.

Well, there's a flip side to Harlem. There's still crime, some violent crime, and inevitable racial tentions resulting from gentrification. Most of this is secluded to certain areas, but senseless crime waves can strike anywhere.

There are wonderful places to live and wonderful places to visit. Standard city safety rules apply, however, and tourists are encouraged to keep south of 135th Street.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • rich cultural traditions
  • close to major transport
  • excellent restaurants
Cons
  • crime rates
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Oct 08, 2010

"Lovely people in a vibrant setting"

As a person who has lived in Harlem for almost five years, I can tell you what it’s like to live there as someone whose family is not from there.

Realize, first, that not all parts of Harlem are the same. The areas by Central Park are gentrified and are very similar to residences on the Upper West Side. Places farther north are less nice, but there are Starbucks as far north as 145th St.

The best part of Harlem is the people. I love love love how everyone lounges outside the moment the weather gets over 40 degrees. People sit around and watch their kids play and talk and play music and illegally grill things on the street. It’s extremely loud music, though. So if you are bothered by loud neighborhoods, Harlem is not for you. People are also willing to talk to you like they know you, which is odd for New York. There’s also a great sense of family and neighborhoody-ness here. People ARE Harlem.

With all those wonderful things, there are things that I don’t love. Some people (a very, very small minority) are resistant to outsiders and let their feelings be known. I know there’s a lot of resistance to gentrification and I understand the reason for those feelings, but I need an affordable place to live as much as everyone else. Second, for some reason, littering is acceptable here. There are chicken bones and candy wrappers and broken bottles everywhere on the streets in the morning.

But the pros of Harlem far outweigh the cons. In Harlem, you can find nice, affordable housing in a fun neighborhood.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
big_oswi
big_oswi Hello! I have been reading all the comments and I have liked this one the most. I need HELP, because I am moving on New York and the best apartment I have found is in West 143rd street, Harlem. I am Spanish. I would love you to give me your sincere opinion about the convenience of living in that location to me. Thank you!!!
Jun 23, 2012
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
Apr 14, 2010

"Plenty of history and real estate to be had"

Undoubtedly rich in history, this neighborhood has attracted all shapes and ethnicities in recent years, as the real estate here is both attractive and affordable - at least by New York standards. The area is traditionally and historically a place of African American roots, but it has become something of a melting pot because of the attraction the real estate offerings hold over everyone - and the further north you go (naturally) the cheaper the offerings are.

Crime rates have dropped quite a bit in recent years, making the neighborhood even more appealing to bargain hunters.
Pros
  • good place to find an awesome jazz band
  • affordable rents
  • rich cultural traditions
Cons
  • can be creepy at night
  • Crowded
  • far from downtown
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 10, 2010

"Home to an emerging African american middle class"

Not a lot of New Yorkers know this, but the Riverbank State Park is home to an olympic-sized pool that costs a whole $2 to use. It's over the Hudson River and part of a huge sports complex that also includes a running track and a soccer field. Now you know where to go if you need to train for the Olympics, or just want a day away from Manhattan traffic to do some sports and recreating. Harlem is important for many reasons historically, but what strikes me most when I walk around in the area is the high number of churches and other places of worship. One of the most famous is the Abyssinian Baptist Church near 138th Street, which produced some of the most prominent ministers to come out of Harlem. Another institution of sorts is Sylvia's Soul Food Restaurant at Lenox Avenue and 126th Street. Unfortunately it is over-run with tour buses these days, so if you want to enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens in peace, you should go late at night. Probably the best time to try is after Sunday service at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, and then you can get a pretty good feel for what Harlem is.

The other Harlem is the one you'll hear about from the real estate agents, since this area is a prime destination for young professionals who can't afford rents in lower Manhattan and want to take advantage of the easy commute to downtown. Although Harlem is gentrifying quickly, the base population is still a solid, middle class African American demographic that has deep cultural roots here that harken back to the days of the Harlem Renaissance. A lot of people say Harlem is now in a second Renaissance, and former president Clinton setting up his office in the area did a lot to revive interest in the last few years.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • 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 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Mar 21, 2010

"A place of incredible cultural traditions"

Harlem is a major center of African American culture, and has held that position since the early 1900's. The area remains predominantly black, despite a major uptick in the rate of gentrification since the middle 1990's, with young non black professionals moving in to take advantage of the affordable housing options and relative ease to commute into central Manhattan. Harlem includes the distinct areas of Hamilton Heights, Sugar Hill, and Manhattanville in the West, plus Spanish Harlem in the East. It is hard to talk about Harlem without mentioning some of the stages of its development that have made it a renown place worldwide, such as the birthplace of jazz, and of the Harlem Renaissance and its role as a center of the civil rights movement. The Apollo is a performance venue everyone has heard of, but there are also dozens of small local cafes and bars that hold poetry slams and open mics, keeping alive the tradition of spoken word and hip hop that has come out of Harlem over the years. One of my favorite things about walking around on a Sunday morning in Harlem is that you can hear the singing of Sunday choirs spill out onto the streets. It seems like every other building along the rows of brownstones is some small congregation or house of worship, and the music is fantastic.
Pros
  • rich cultural traditions
  • affordable rents
  • close to Columbia
Cons
  • far from downtown
  • crime rates
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Mar 12, 2010

"Culturally diverse and interesting . . . but not the best place to live."

While Harlem is still a little on the sketchy side in many areas, it's definitely up and coming. The entrance to Harlem, so to speak, is marked with the Cathedral of Saint John of the Divine. No matter what, if any, faith you are or have, this Cathedral is an experience that should be had. It is the largest cathedral in the world and it is so, so beautiful. Besides the magnitude of this place (and the fact that it's been under construction for the last 100+ years) there are a couple of events in this Cathedral that are so New York: in May, there is the blessing of the bikes (bring your bike to be blessed against accidents) and in the fall, it's the blessing of the pets (same idea with animals).
Lenox Lounge is another must-see if you're going to be in Harlem. It's one of the nicer bars in Harlem and it has a rich history; John Coltrane and Billie Holiday performed there.
And, finally the Hungarian Pastry Shop is a Harlem staple. UWS artists and Columbia kids mostly hang there now, but many a famous book has been written in those walls.
The neighborhood is culturally rich and very diverse because of recent gentrification. It's definitely worth going; but, it's still a little dangerous.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • excellent restaurants
  • close to Columbia
  • close to major transport
Cons
  • boring
  • crime rates
  • dead at night
  • Crowded
  • Dirty
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5
Dec 18, 2009

"Traditionally black community undergoing a multiethnic renewal"

From the moment the staid, white-bread Upper East Side streets turn into signs for "Fredrick Douglass Boulevard" and "Malcolm X" boulevard, a traveler comes to realize he's not in Kansas anymore. Diverse, energetic, and thriving, this mostly-black neighborhood has been a byword for black culture since the days of the Harlem Renaissance, when poets like Langston Hughes and institutions like the Apollo Theatre came to define generations of black culture. While in following decades the neighborhood has garnered a reputation for drugs and crime, its recent gentrification (heralded by Bill Clinton choosing to hold his postpresidential offices there) has given the home of the Renaissance a second rebirth. From stalwart institutions like Sylvia's Soul Food restaurant and the gospel choices to the new Marriott in the cards, Harlem has a lot to offer.

Charming it isn't. The buildings are mostly new and not particularly nice - with the exception of a collection of recently-restored lovely brownstones, the signs are neon, and the streets are often crowded with vendors selling everything from incense to fruit and everything in between. But the lively chaos of this neighborhood is nevertheless worth seeing and perfectly safe to live in. That said, while the area is multi-ethnic, Caucasian residents or visitors are still very much in the minority, and the recent "gentrification" movement has caused some tensions between the existing black community and a generally more affluent community that is seen by some as "invading" the neighborhood and depriving it of its historic character.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
Uraniumfish
Uraniumfish Hey! You stole my "not in Kansas any more" line!

I think you miss an important distinction between East and West Harlem. Not all of Harlem is what you've described.
Dec 19, 2009
Jason Spencer
Jason Spencer Uraniumfish - how are East and West different?
Dec 21, 2009
Uraniumfish
Uraniumfish West Harlem is the Harlem we associate with the Apollo, Langston Hughes, and an up and coming (or rather already arrived) black middle class. It's probably becoming more gentrified than it used to be, especially since Bill Clinton set up shop, but its economic base was pretty solid even before that.

East Harlem is significantly poorer and has higher crime rates. It's also known as Spanish Harlem and hasn't seen much of that gentrification at all, nor is it especially vibrant or multi-ethnic. The romantic descriptions of Harlem don't really apply there, in my opinion.
Dec 25, 2009
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4/5
Oct 18, 2009

"Classic neighboorhood"

You cant say Harlem with out talking about the Apollo which is legendary and a must see whether you live in Harlem or not. Harlem is mostly African American and the people are very friendly. What i gotta say that i live is some of the oldr more classic building that just make me think about what Harlem must have been like 40 years ago. Its a mixture of people alot of new working class singles live their as well as many middle class families. You wont have to look far for good food. Melba's on 114th St has the best chicken and waffles hands down their worth breaking your diet and also Silvia'restaurant has such good soul food. There are even some decent lounges like Body which has a nice singles crowd.
There are great shopping places on 125th. Some new building are being built that really fresh and modern. Harlem basically has everything you want great food culture and affordable real estate.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Mar 22, 2009

"Very nice place to live now."

This is Harlem, New York and I used to live here 30 years ago. When I lived there it wasn't so nice. Abandoned buildings were everywhere and there was a lot of drug use going on in the area. Today, however, it is a beautiful place to live. There are now lots of beautiful tree lined streets with expensive brownstones. If you walk 3 blocks you are on 125th street where the famed Apollo Theater resides, amonst a big shopping area. There is always a high presence of police in the area which tends to make you feel safe. 122nd street runs from east to west, starting at Broadway and ending at Second avenue. The night life in New York City is spectacular. There is alwasy something to do, weather it be shopping or partying. I would really consider living there again.
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
3/5
Mar 19, 2009

"Rich with culture and soul"

Harlem has truly secured its iconic status over the years due to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, numerous movies – like Shaft and Jungle Fever, yet Harlem is most prominently known for one thing: Jazz.

Home to legendary jazz clubs like the Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, and Minton’s Playhouse; make Harlem an impressive jazz community. Equally impressive are the historic theaters, such as the Harlem Suitcase Theater and the National Black Theater.

When people think of Harlem, they for the most part think of supper clubs, rib joints, cafés, and taverns, but interestingly enough, Harlem contains many of Manhattan’s most elegant homes. The 1802 home of Alexander Hamilton can be found at 87 Covenant Avenue. The City College campus nearby is also a great place to check out some of the area’s finest, including Harris Hall and Shephard Hall.

Do not leave Harlem without visiting Sylvia’s Soul Food for authentic mac and cheese, okra, and black-eyed peas. Sylvia herself still presides over this amazing restaurant in the heart of Harlem. The eatery takes up an entire city block and seats over 450 people! I recently discovered that Sylvia sells some of her products online at www.sylviassoulfood.com.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5
Feb 25, 2009

"Rich in history, crime has seriously been reduced in the past decade"

Harlem is famous for that Renaissance they had back in the twenties and thirties, but don’t expect to find some bursting bohemian bubble. When my old roommate and I were looking for apartments, she claimed she couldn’t move there because she wouldn’t feel safe walking around at night.
There has been gentrification going down in Harlem since the middle of the previous century, but the area remains predominately black. That is certainly not to say this neighborhood equals some kind of certain death – the crime rates in the previous decade have improved almost nine fold in some cases. No, there aren’t any crack wars in Harlem currently, but it’s not as safe as a more affluent neighborhood.
That being said, there is plenty in this neighborhood that would appeal to a visitor, especially one with an appreciation of the neighborhood’s varied and rich history (Sylvia’s Soul Food restaurant certainly comes to mind).
3/5
Feb 23, 2009

"Harlem - a neighborhood underoing a renaissance"

Harlem is one of the most famous neighborhoods in New York City and has been home to Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and most recently the site of Bill Clinton’s humanitarian organization. With a wonderful history and dynamic present, this neighborhood has seen a rebirth in recent years, making it one of the most attractive places to live in Uptown Manhattan. Once owned by Dutch settlers, Harlem is now home to a diverse cross section of people. Real Estate in Harlem is affordable and unique, with many multiple level family homes as well as beautiful brownstones located along Striver’s Row. Due to an abundance of well-maintained apartments and accessibility to midtown Manhattan as well as the other boroughs of New York City, Harlem is a desirable location for professionals and families alike. The history of Harlem is a major reason why this neighborhood is amongst the most popular to visit in the city. A predominantly African-American neighborhood, Harlem is perhaps best known for its renaissance in the early twentieth century, which brought great music and art to the hallowed neighborhood. Successful and affluent Blacks lived and entertained in the neighborhood’s now famous streets. The Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club are world renown venues at which some of the most talented performers of modern times lent their gifts to fans of jazz, R&B, Doo-Wop, and Soul music. “Soul Food” restaurants, African stores and shops, not to mention many chain retail stores now line the main drag of 125th Street. Following a brief period of economic decline, Harlem is again a bustling and prominent section of Manhattan. The neighborhood is vibrant and offerings of every variety are plentiful. Other sites in the neighborhood include the Harbor Conservatory, Astor Tow, Morningside Park, The Harlem School of the Arts, and the world famous Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant. From the past to the present, Harlem has been and continues to be a wonderful tribute to art, music, and city living.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5
May 01, 2008

"Great Experience of Learning"

never would have gone to visit Harlem if it weren't for people I knew who got a group of us to take this tour. But I'm SO glad I did!
I felt a lot more educated on the area of Harlem and would really like to go back to the area the next time I'm in the city, if nothing else, to see the people I met there and take in the sights. There are some incredibly important historical landmarks, as well as some wonderful jazz bars and locally-owned restaurants.

I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history and vast culture of New York City, as well as anyone just looking for a nice place to experience music and culture.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
LoisH
LoisH Add a comment I want to go back to HARLEM. Simply loved the place everything mentioned is true...
Jun 25, 2014
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Best Streets in Harlem

1

5th Ave

4/5
"If you haven't been to the 5th Ave - you haven't been to NYC"
40.800278963243 -73.9467441007456
2

West 143 St

3/5
"Park The Best Part"
40.8201976434255 -73.9396772083555
"A Park, Apartment Buildings, and Schools - What a Treat"
40.7986265000078 -73.9524455002034
4

West 144 St

2.5/5
"A School Zone With Apartments Thrown In"
40.8213813547734 -73.9405514572309
5

West 145th St

2.5/5
"West 145th Street"
40.8225139215694 -73.9411547933542
6

8th Ave

2.5/5
"On Fredirck Douglass Boulevard"
40.8007230000661 -73.9580695003237
7

West 129 St

2.5/5
"A bit out of the way, but not out of the question. "
40.8114431980862 -73.9463150728118
8

West 131 St

2.5/5
"Easy Street Taken and To Be Forgotten"
40.8125831014384 -73.9451643249271
9

West 154 St

2/5
"A Very Short Two Blocks That Ends as Beauty"
40.8283773179327 -73.9374981462379
10

West 135 St

2/5
"Eastside Heights Delights"
40.815526337003 -73.9442210283384