Harlem passed through several historic periods - as a high-society area of New York for wealthy upper class and middle class white residents...as a fashionable district for blacks during a period known as the "Harlem Renaissance"...as one of the hottest night club playgrounds for audiences who came uptown to see the all black revues to gangsters and entertainers in grand style at the famous night spots.
Beginning in the 1870s Harlem was the site of a massive wave of development which resulted in the construction of numerous new single-family row-houses, tenements, and luxury apartment houses, New York's black middle class began moving to Harlem.
During the "Harlem Renaissance" of the 1920s, Harlem became the urban cultural center of black America, with its center around 135th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues.
Affluent African-Americans began moving to "Sugar Hill" in the late 1920s. "Sweet and Expensive," signifying that one had arrived, economically and socially Sugar Hill was celebrated for its exclusivity and status. The Hill attracted those with talent, money, education, and social prominence. Below "Sugar Hill" is "Striver's Row" Rows of townhouses on West 138th and 139th Street named by Harlemites for it's ambitious residents, constructed between 1891 and 1893. Every house on Striver's Row is designated a historic landmark.
East Harlem/El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) community stretches from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue and from East 96th Street to East 125th Street.
- Central Harlem stretches from Central Park North to the Harlem River and from Fifth Avenue to St. Nicholas Avenue.
- West Harlem, including Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill, stretches from 123rd to 155th Streets and from St. Nicholas Avenue to the Hudson River
For the last few years there has been another wave of development and construction in Harlem. New condo development has surged in Harlem like the rest of Manhattan and there appears to be enough demand by buyers to meet supply.
A new luxury glass condo at 111 Central Park North has 2 and 3 bedroom apartments with breathtaking Park Views starting at $1.5 million, $1300 per-square-foot. It appears Central Park North is getting numbers equivalent to prices on Central Park West and Upper 5th Avenue. Harlem condos typically sell for $550 to $800 per-square-foot. Townhouses run $350 to $500 a square foot if it requires no renovation. If it's a shell, it's about $250 to $300 a square foot.
A diversified mix of New Buyers think Harlem is an exciting place to live because it is still on the island and they are priced out of downtown. They are coming to Harlem for the neighborhood's history and the immaculate houses on Strivers Row and new condos all over Harlem. The fixer-upper brownstones that were a steal have been gone for a couple of years now. Most Townhouse owners have cashed out already. Many have been renovated and many sellers have priced them too high.
Developers have converted brownstone, shells of buildings and narrow vacant lots into condominium apartments. For Manhattan home buyers, this new wave of condo conversion in Harlem provides an opportunity to live in a neighborhood with small-scale buildings. Harlem zoning does not allow for very large buildings. These apartments, typically floor-throughs and duplexes come with town house amenities, like terraces, gardens, fireplaces, and uncommonly good light for Manhattan. There are new condo townhouses from Morningside to Mount Morris Park, Sugar Hill and Strivers Row.
New larger buildings with doormen and other amenities have gone up on Harlem's Avenues.
The Lenox is on Lenox Avenue at 129th Street.
The Dwyer Condos - Warehouse Lofts at 123rd Street
The Dwyer condos at 123rd and St. Nicholas are more like downtown loft buildings.
Harlem is a location with history, spirit, culture and affordability. Harlem may be the neighborhood you are looking for. It's becoming a popular location for all types of people. Bill Clinton has moved in! All the new construction in Harlem it hasn't lost its old historic flavor. There are still many prewar buildings and beautiful 19th century townhouses featuring fireplaces and molding and lovely backyards.
Harlem is home to Columbia University and the world renowned Apollo Theater where such greats as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Aretha Franklin performed. One of the area's most notable attractions is the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. This awesome Episcopal cathedral, on 112th Street near Columbia University, is exceptional in its melding of Gothic, Byzantine and Romanesque architecture. More and more businesses are flocking in to meet the needs of this resurrected neighborhood.
So take the A train up to Harlem and enjoy the rich history and affordable housing!
(Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald - Take the "A" Train)
Manhattan Neighborhood Guides
Manhattan Neighborhood Guides
Courtesy of: Mitchell Hall, The Corcoran Group