HistoryWhen Dutch colonists occupied the island of Manhattan in the 17th century, they named a part of it after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Even after the colony of New Amsterdam collapsed, the name of the small piece of land on the island would stay for generations to come. Immediately after the American Civil War, New York City experienced a major boom in industry, commerce and culture. At the time, there was a major demand for housing in the rapidly growing Manhattan. Immigrants from Italy and Eastern Europe settled the northern part of the borough that would eventually be known as Harlem. At the beginning of the 20th century, another new wave of migration impacted the growth of this neighbourhood on the northern tip of Manhattan. African Americans from the South found great opportunities in the Big Apple, which had become arguably the most diverse city nationwide. By the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance brought tremendous success to coloured residents who had previously faced severe racial discrimination in other parts of the country. This great movement was particularly known for its charismatic musicians and entertainers as well as thoughtful authors and intellectuals. After World War II, the demographics of Harlem have been gradually changed by immigrants from the Caribbean region and Latina America. Spanish Harlem has given the area a whole new vibe and atmosphere towards the end of the 20th century. Commonly known as El Barrio, this part of Harlem is known for having lots of bodegas and botanicas that normally line commercial streets of major cities in Hispanic countries.
Attractions and EntertainmentOne of Harlem's most iconic landmarks is the Apollo Theater, which opened at the height of World War I. Since then, this intimate performance venue has ignited the careers of some of the most successful African-American musicians in the United States. Duke Ellington, James Brown and the Isley Brothers are some prominent names with strong ties to this glamorous theatre. When it comes to the fine arts, the Studio Museum is perhaps the premier centre in Harlem. The galleries at this museum mostly showcase paintings, drawing, sculptures and other creations by African American artists from the nation and worldwide. If you're a lover of architecture and history, then a walking tour of Harlem will surely stimulate your senses. The James Bailey House, Morris-Jumel Mansion and Benziger House are among the hundreds of historic properties that line the dense streets of this neighbourhood.
Geography and LayoutThe southern part of Harlem is identified by 110th Street, which connects Frederick Douglass Circle with the Duke Ellington Circle. Both of these traffic circles honour great African Americans who have been revered by the local community. You'll also find boulevards and streets named after Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in this neighbourhood. Surrounded by Central Park, the East River and Hudson River, Harlem actually offers convenient access to some of the best natural resources in NYC. Additionally, the waterfront Riverfront Park and Columbia University, an Ivy League school, are just outside the borders of the district.
Transit OptionsHome to more than a dozen New York City subway stations, Harlem is directly connected to all major parts of Manhattan. As one of the main commercial roads in the district, 125th Street is appropriately served by the A, C, 2 and 3 lines. Additionally, the B and D trains connect Harlem with the Bronx. Dozens of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus stops are also strategically spread across Harlem.
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