Harlem is the area at the North of Central Park which has been historically the African American district and is well known for its gospel services and its jazz clubs.
It is not necessarily the most charming neighbourhood of New York (the buildings are not always in good state) but it is really interesting to walk around and discover the iconic places of African-American history such as the jazz clubs including the Cotton Club and the Apollon Theatre or the statue of Harriet Tubman, a ex-slave that has fought in the American civil war in the 19th century. On a more frivolous note, if you like sneakers and streetwear, there are a couple of stores including Jimmy Jazz and Harlem NYC on the 125th, I also recommend you to stop by Carol’s Daughter to discover this beauty brand made in Harlem. It was also the occasion to try Southern cuisine, for that, I went to Red Rooster where I had the Fried Yardbird which was delicious. Prepare for a earthy meal 🙂
As I was in New York for several weeks, I took that opportunity to go to Harlem on a Sunday and attend a gospel service at First Corinthian Baptist Church.
Honestly, even if church isn’t your cup of tea, I recommend you to go through this experience at least once! There was an electrified atmosphere, the songs were completely the opposite of what you can imagine of religious services, usually quite austere in general, here people were clapping and singing their hearts our with the gospel choir and the musicians (exit the organ and hello the drums and the saxophone :)). If you think of going, prefer the earliest service to avoid the crowd.
Leaving, pop by Levain Bakery on Frederick Douglass Blvd for a delicious cookie, you won’t regret it 😉
As a bonus, I have another recommendation to share with you which I didn’t get to see unfortunately as I discovered its existence afterwards, but looked really cool: Malcolm Shabazz market (52 W 116th), which is opened every day and offer a range of objects and clothes inspired or from Africa.
My recommended addresses in Harlem:
310 Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10027
2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10026
Have a nice day!