Adapting to a new place takes time. Each work-day since moving to N.Y., I’ve settled into my commute routine from Harlem to Midtown. Between busy hours at work and after-work fun with friends downtown, it doesn’t always leave much time to explore. However, good time management and mustering the energy will motivate you to get out more.
Whenever I think of exploring, I immediately associate it with leaving my neighborhood. But, there’s a lot to see in Harlem. It gets its name from the Dutch city of Haarlem, and has maintained a rich, cultural history since the 1920s. Harlem has undergone social and economic changes, but keeps to its artistic and cultural roots.
Home to the famous Apollo Theater, friendly locals, Harlem shake dance moves, delicious cuisine at The Red Rooster and Chez Lucienne and soul food (chicken and waffles) at the Corner Social, and great, small neighborhood parks such as my favorite Marcus Garvey Park, it’s easy to spend a fun afternoon here. Legendary artists such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, James Brown, The Jackson 5, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Gladys Night, the Berry Brothers, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Stan Getz, Stevie Wonder, and countless others, once graced the stage at the Apollo. A walk on and around West 125th will take you right by many of these well-known sites.
My Harlem Bucket List
- The Apollo Amateur Night on Wednesdays
- Live jazz and gospel
- The Studio Museum for its contemporary African-American art
Even when you think you’ve settled somewhere, look around nearby. You’d be surprised by what you might find in your own yard. New cultural experiences are all around. It’s a matter of embracing them, and taking it all in – one street and one landmark at a time.
From a Photo Walk: (by Riverside Park & Grant’s Tomb, outside the Apollo & Harlem street art).