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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

New York City Neighborhoods
Central Harlem, Manhattan

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Central Harlem is bordered by the Harlem River on the north, 5th Avenue to the Harlem River Drive on the east, Central Park on the south, and Morningside Park to Edgecombe Avenue on the west. The neighborhood is in Manhattan Community District 10.
Originally settled by Dutch farmers as Nieuw Haarlem, the village remained rural and autonomous for many years because of its remoteness from the populous areas of New York City. In 1776, the Continental Army reinforced the local population of 203 and stopped the advancing British troops at Harlem Heights, preventing their assault on the City.

Between the late 1880s and 1904, elevated railroads and subway lines were extended up 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th and 9th Avenues, changing the character and size of Harlem. Major residential and commercial development accompanied the extensive uptown migration of people. Much of the fine architecture of the period is still in evidence.

Between 1920 and 1930, blacks became the dominant population group in Harlem. During this time, the area became known for the Harlem Renaissance: a period of tremendous artistic and literary accomplishments that peaked between 1925 and 1929. A rich collection of materials about this period can be found in Harlem's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, on Lenox Avenue.

In addition to the 840 acres of Central Park that form the neighborhood's southern boundary, Central Harlem contains an abundance of park land. Three large parks-Morningside, St. Nicholas and Jackie Robinson-are situated on steeply rising banks that form most of the district's western border. At 5th Avenue between West 119th and 124th Streets, the Mount Morris Park (also known as Marcus Garvey Park) is the centerpiece of the Mount Morris Park Historic District and forms a part of the boundary separating Central Harlem from predominantly Latino East Harlem. The streets of this small district contain many fine examples of 19th-century residences, the work of the leading architects of the period.

125th Street, long recognized as Harlem's major shopping thoroughfare, is bustling today as never before. The recently built Pathmark Supermarket was the first major development in 30 years. More than 30 new local and national food, fashion, sports and entertainment retailers have quickly followed.

Central Harlem is well serviced by public transportation-the IND 6th and 8th Avenue lines, the IRT Lenox/Broadway lines and the IRT Lexington Avenue lines serve the area, as well as many bus routes, all offering easily accessible service to area residents and workers. In addition, there are numerous private car services.
There are 16 public elementary schools in Community District 10, four public junior high schools and two public high schools. In addition, there are six private or parochial elementary schools and one private high school.
Housing Stock:
Harlem is a neighborhood of neighborhoods: Bradhurst, Strivers' Row, Manhattan Valley, Sugar Hill and Hamilton Heights. Hamilton Heights was named for its original role as the country estate of Alexander Hamilton, while Sugar Hill (on Edgecombe Avenue above West 145th Street) is lined with handsome row houses that used to be home to Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes.

Throughout the greater Harlem area, there are many architecturally significant apartment buildings, row houses and brownstones-many with original details like pocket doors and carved moldings still intact. Although the market has heated up, you can still find affordable housing in Harlem.

New York City government is working hard to increase the supply of affordable housing through a variety of programs. Visit HPD's website to learn more about homes for sale.

Where do I find my new home?
Check out the big dailies as well as smaller newspapers that you can pick up in supermarkets and banks. Another potential source of information are the privately-run real estate websites, such as Real Estate Español, Realty Times, or HomeStore.
Special Note:
Central Harlem is home to many socially and architecturally important churches, and to thriving cultural institutions such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the National Black Theatre, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, one of the nation's premier ballet companies.

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