This page describes Malcolm X Boulevard as it appeared in 2001. The tour was developed as part of the Malcolm X Boulevard Streetscape Enhancement Project. These pages are no longer being updated.
Welcome to Malcolm X Boulevard in the heart of
Harlem! This online virtual tour highlights the
landmarks of Harlem and is available in both an
interactive Flash form as well as printable text
form. Select either the Interactive Flash
or Printable Text button below to begin.
This tour was developed by the Department of City
Planning as part of its Malcolm X Boulevard Streetscape
Enhancement Project. The project, which extends
from West 110th to West 147th Street, seeks to
complement the ongoing capital improvements for
Malcolm X Boulevard and take advantage of the
growing tourist interest in Harlem. The project
proposes a program of streetscape and pedestrian
space improvements, including new pedestrian lighting,
new sidewalk and median landscaping and the provision
of pedestrian amenities, such as seating and pergolas.
The Department has been working with Cityscape
Institute, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone,
the New York City Department of Transportation,
and the Department of Design and Construction,
and has received implementation funds totaling
$1.2 million through the federal TEA21 Enhancement
Funding program for the proposed pedestrian lighting
As one element of the project,
the Department developed this guided tour of the
boulevard and neighboring blocks. The tour provides
an overview of local area history, and highlights
architecturally significant and landmarked buildings,
noteworthy cultural and ecclesiastical institutions
and other points of interest. A listing of former
famous jazz clubs, such as the Cotton Club and
Savoy Ballroom, is also provided. Envisioned as
an information resource for residents and visitors,
the tour is also available in printable text format
for use as a hand-held guide for a self-guided
walking tour along the boulevard.
How to Get Around:
Harlem is well-served
by public transportation. Take either the Number
2 or 3 subway lines to West 110th Street station,
or the M2, M3, M4, or M18 buses and get off at
Malcolm X Boulevard and Central Park North. The
tour begins at Malcolm X Boulevard and Central
Park North/West 110th Street.
Brief History of Malcolm X Boulevard Neighborhood:
First known as Sixth Avenue, the portion of the
Boulevard above Central Park from West 110th Street/Central
Park North to 147th was named Lenox Avenue in
1887 after a millionaire philanthropist and book-collector.
James Lenox donated his private collection as
part of the founding material of the New York
Public Library. In the late 1980's, the street
was again renamed, this time to honor the slain
civil rights leader.
Until the mid-19th century,
Harlem was a sparsely settled agricultural area.
Changing from farmland to a recreational area
for New Yorkers, the area was subdivided into
lots primed for residential development beginning
in the 1850's-60's. The arrival of elevated subway
trains (known as the "El") in 1872 began
the transformation of Harlem into a suburb for
the rapidly growing city. Malcolm X Boulevard
runs through five blocks of the Mount Morris Park
Historic District. This district features buildings
representative of architecture styles spanning
a period of more than four decades. Until the
end of the 19th century, Mount Morris Park was
home to a wealthy Protestant community that supported
the many churches on the avenue. Developers, anticipating
the arrival of the east side subway line, began
building churches, public buildings and elegant
speculative houses in the area. Notable New York
developers William B. Astor, Oscar Hammerstein,
Henry Morgenthau and Oswald Ottendorfer engaged
the prominent architects of the day, including
Arnold W. Brunner, Hugo Lamb of the firm of Lamb
& Rich, George F. Pelham, William A. Potter,
J. R. Thomas, Thom & Wilson and James E. Ware.
These well-preserved structures, designed in such
architectural styles as Romanesque Revival, the
French Neo-Grec, and Queen Anne, rival those found
on prestigious Fifth and Park Avenues.
In the late 19th century,
German and Eastern European Jews moved into the
area. These residents built new synagogues and
converted several churches for their religious
services. During the 1920's, the boulevard became
a center for a growing African-American community
and the synagogues once again were used as churches.
Most notable is the former Temple Israel of Harlem
at Malcolm X Blvd. and West 120th Street, the
present-day Mount Olivet Church.
The 1930's brought West
Indian and Caribbean immigrants to the area, a
trend that continues today and is reflected in
the restaurants in the neighborhood. Today one
sees the growing influence of African immigrants.
The building boom of the
1970's resulted in the construction of new housing
projects in Harlem and Malcolm X Blvd. was included
in the frenzy. Many low-rise residential buildings
from the early 20th century were replaced by superblock
developments. Also, lost in that spurt of "urban
renewal" were many famous jazz clubs. This
guide leads you to their former sites, and also
introduces you to those that were spared the fate
of "modern improvements."
One of the broadest streets
in Manhattan with sidewalks that measure thirty-five
feet in width, Malcolm X Boulevard is primarily
residential. Convenient public transportation,
easy access to New York airports, and recent real
estate developments have seen an increase in its
function as a main commercial and transportation
strip. The future of Harlem in general and Malcolm
X Blvd. in particular is looking bright as both
investors in the public and private sectors recognize
it as the next new place for expansion and development.
As we enter the new millennium, the face of Harlem
seems destined to change once again.
Have a great tour!
- Anderson, Jervis, This
Was Harlem, New York, Farrar, Strauss Giroux
- Dolkart, Andrew S. and
Gretchen S. Sorin, Touring Historic Harlem:
Four Walks in Northern Manhattan, New York:
New York Landmarks Conservancy, 1997
- Harris, M.A. "Spike,"
A Negro History Tour of Manhattan, New York,
Greenwood Publications, 1968
- Rovere, Vicki, Where
To Go: A Guide to Manhattan's Toilets, New York,
Vicki Rovere, Publisher, 1991
- Willensky, Elliot and
Norval White, AIA Guide to New York City, Third
Edition, San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,