Nearly every neighborhood in New York City has had its fair share of ups and downs over the decades. Yesterday's demilitarized zone is today's luxury condo haven. Double-wide strollers wheel down sidewalks where yuppies once feared to tread. This has been the pattern everywhere from the East Village to Hell's Kitchen—and don't even start with Brooklyn—but nowhere has the resurgence of development and renewed real estate interest been quite as clear as it has been in Harlem.
Once the headquarters of such African-American cultural giants as W.E.B. DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington, Harlem was a hotbed of music, literature, and cultural exchange during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s. Later on, Harlem became the birthplace of hip-hop, a musical innovation that changed the way we entertain ourselves - much like jazz did in the early 20th century.
Along with its rich contributions to American arts and culture, the name Harlem has also been synonymous with "ghetto," and the neighborhood has long been a poster child for urban decay and blight. That part of the picture is changing, however. These days, with a Manhattan real estate market that knows no ceiling, outsiders and natives alike are investing in Harlem, banking on the neighborhood's ethnic culture, stunning architecture and rich history.
An Historic Icon
West Harlem includes the Upper West Side of Manhattan from 96th to 168th Street, bounded by Frederick Douglas Boulevard to the east and the Hudson River to the west, and technically includes the smaller neighborhoods of Morningside Heights, Manhattanville, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights/Inwood.
Hamilton Heights is bordered by the Hudson River to the west and Bradhurst Avenue to the east, West 135th St. to the south, and West 155th St. to the north. Sugar Hill is the area between Amsterdam and Edgecombe Avenues, West 145th to W 155th St., and is a part of Hamilton Heights. The community gets its name from founding father Alexander Hamilton, who lived the last two years of his life in the area, when it was mosly farmland.