Today’s Harlem has a celebrity chef whipping up gourmet cornbread for President Barack Obama, a new Starwood Hotel featuring loft-style rooms geared toward an urban tech-savvy clientele, a newly opened 174,000-square-foot Target big-box store that carries everything from Spanish-language greeting cards to multicultural dolls to locally-produced Southern food. There’s even an intimate speakeasy tucked away on Frederick Douglass Boulevard offering up live jazz from up and coming local musicians and staffed with aspiring models serving up couture cocktails.
Harlem continues to be one of the most recognizable neighborhoods in the world. During the much romanticized Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, the explosion of nightlife was so legendary we’re still talking about it 90 years later.
Harlem extends from the East River West to the Hudson River between 155th and 96th streets and is comprised of seven neighborhoods: Hamilton Heights, Mount Morris Park, Manhanttanville, Strivers Row, Astor Row, Morris Jumel Landmark District and East Harlem.
Like any other New York City neighborhood, the community has undergone radical changes but Harlem today is in flux, and thanks to an infusion of shops, restaurants, bars, jazz venues, and a former president’s post-White House office, is once again, in full Renaissance mode.
Dutch settlers founded Harlem in 1658 and Governor Peter Stuyvesant named the town Nieuw Haarlem after a city in Holland. Due to its fertile soil the area was comprised mostly of farmland and the economy centered on agriculture for nearly 200 years.