Head uptown to explore Harlem's rich culture and history.
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Where Is Harlem? How Do You Get There?
Harlem is located in northern Manhattan. The neighborhood is bounded by the Harlem River on the North, 110th Street/Central Park North on the South, 5th Avenue on the East and Morningside/St. Nicholas avenues on the West. Harlem is actually made up of several smaller neighborhoods, Bradhurst, Strivers' Row, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights and Sugar Hill. The area is very well served by subways, and it's large, so depending on where you're headed, different trains and stops will serve you best. The A/C, 1, 2/3, and B trains all have numerous stations throughout the neighborhood. Consult the MTA Subway Map to find the best route to your destination.
The Official NYC Information Center in Harlem is located inside of the Studio Museum of Harlem at 144 W. 125th St. (bet. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Malcolm X Blvds.) and it's open daily.
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History of Harlem
Harlem was first established in the 1600s by Dutch farmers who called it Nieuw Haarlem. It operated relatively independently for many years because of its remote location. During colonial times many powerful families established estates in the area. When the land became less conducive to farming in the mid-1800s, a wave of immigration began: first Irish, then German and later, eastern European Jews settled in Harlem. In the early 1900s, realtors and churches inspired blacks to move into the neighborhood, with the promise of better housing, less racism, and a nicer environment.
As the black population of the neighborhood grew, new and exciting developments in art, dance, music, and literature developed in the area. In the 1920s and 30s, the neighborhood was at the center of the Harlem Renaissance, which included writers like Zora Neal Hurston, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. DuBois. Many famous jazz clubs and jazz musicians were based in Harlem, including Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, and Bessie Smith.
Today, many areas of Harlem are gentrifying, but there is still a strong local community, beautiful architecture and lots great of reasons to visit the neighborhood.
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Tours of Harlem
- Great Day In Harlem Jazz Tour ($149) music lovers will enjoy learning and listening on this five-hour all-ages tour that includes transportation by mini-bus and dinner.
- Harlem Juke Joint Tour ($99) - spend four hours learning about Harlem and enjoying music in at least two (normally three) different live music venues with Big Apple Jazz Tours
- Harlem Heritage Tours - offers a variety of walking and bus tours in Harlem, including gospel, history and tasting tours. All guides are have been born and raised in Harlem, offering a personal connection to the neighborhood.
- Harlem Spirituals - offers both jazz and gospel tours of Harlem, with and without lunch/brunch
- Historic Harlem - if you want to dig into the history of Harlem, look no further than this two-hour tour with Big Onion Walking tours. ($20)
- Taste Harlem: Food and Culture Tours - on their Harlem Tasting Tour ($95) you'll spend four hours learning about Harlem and tasting some of the neighborhood's delicious cuisine
- Walk This Way Through Harlem ($32) - if you want to explore Harlem and love hip hop, look no further than this walking tour from Hush Hip Hop Tours (they also offer a Birthplace of Hip Hop Bus Tour ($75) that covers Harlem and the Bronx)
- Welcome to Harlem Tours - offers a variety of different neighborhood tours, including walking, shopping, jazz and gospel tours.
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Hotels in Harlem
- Aloft Harlem is well located for visitors who want a convenient location and a hip, cool hotel. A short walk from the Apollo Theater and Studio Museum, Aloft Harlem is close to public transportation if you're using it as a home base for exploring New York City. People love the clean, stylish rooms and appreciate the free wi-fi and coffee.
- Harlem YMCA - Single and double accommodations with shared baths offer visitors an affordable accommodation in a safe, accessible area.