or close to 20 years, Julia Boland has been helping people buy and sell condominiums in Harlem. Having moved to the neighborhood in 2004,when many of the condominiums in the neighborhood were just being built, she knows the majority of them from their inception. Julia was the Sales Manager for the Adeline at 23 West 116th. Other notable projects she sold include: 117 West 123rd Street, 129 West 123rd Street, 2280 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, and 106 West 116th Street. As a member of the community serving on the Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance, she is up to date on what is happening on the best streets in the neighborhood. She created the Harlem Condo Market Report so you can keep track of your major asset and understand the forces impacting the market.
The neighborhood of West Harlem is home to some of the newer condominiums including 11 Hancock Place at 300 West 123rd Street. These buildings feature luxurious finishes and amenities, not to mention proximity to Morningside Park and Columbia University.
The condos here are sprinkled among the charming blocks of historic townhouses. Inside 100 West 119th Street are modern homes inside of a beautiful pre-war building. 117 West 123rd Street features a striking glass and meal façade.
East Harlem is known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio. Here you will find smaller, boutique condominiums until you are south of 106th Street where larger, luxury buildings such as 1399 Park Avenue or 181 East 101st Street dominate the landscape.
West Harlem encompasses three distinct neighborhoods: Morningside Heights, Manhattanville and Hamilton Heights. All three are distinct and have a rich diversity of history and cultural institutions.
Morningside Heights: North of Cathedral Parkway (110th Street) and south of 125th Street, Morningside Heights is home to reputable institutions of higher education: Columbia University, Barnard College and Union Theological Seminary. It is also home to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The Eastern edge of the neighborhood is defined by Morningside Park, a landmarked Olmstead and Vaux designed park. The campuses of Columbia, Barnard, and Union Theological Seminary can feel like a large campus superimposed on the grid of Manhattan. Until recently the majority of the housing stock was earmarked for faculty, staff and students.
However, two new condominiums, the Vanderwater and Claremont Hall, now offer luxury living for all in the heart of this vibrant, intellectual neighborhood. Plenty of restaurants and stores can be found along Broadway, catering to students, professors, and other residents.
Manhattanville runs from 125th up to 135th Street and is noted for its diversity of buildings. In the heart of the neighborhood is the Columbia University expansion above 125th Street — The new buildings offer an art gallery, a rock climbing wall and a food court, which are all open to the public — that has brought vibrancy to that part of town. The arched tracks of the number one subway train, which rides high above the pedestrians and cars below, offers gritty, urban glamor making it an Instagram start. Warehouses along the river have been turned into restaurants such as Dinosaur BBQ. Running along 126th and 127th Street is the Manhattanville Factory District. Covering 4 acres and 1.1 million square feet of office building, The Factory District, connects Columbia University and City College to the vibrant 125th Street corridor. Anchored by The Taystee lab building the area now includes The Sweets building, an eleven story life-science building and other office spaces.
Hamilton Heights: Nestled between Morningside Heights and Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights is named after the founding father (and Broadway inspiration) Alexander Hamilton. The home he lived in for the last two years of his life, the Grange, still stands. The neighborhood’s trajectory mirrored Harlem’s, with many of those homes bought by affluent African-Americans especially in Sugar Hill, an enclave on the eastern side of the neighborhood.
The main City College campus also gives the area some of the collegiate feeling of neighboring Morningside Heights. Here you will find beautiful townhouses. Some of the most notable ones are on Hamilton Terrace, a block noted for its graceful curve and vibrant block association. The most famous house in Hamilton Heights is The Morris Jummel Mansion which dates back to 1765 and is the oldest house in Manhattan. Sylvan terrace offers more modest townhouses all built of wood on a landmarked block. There is plenty of great food to be found along Amsterdam Avenue including Harlem’s own Sugar Hill Creamery with fun ice cream names such as Chairperson of the Board (a rich, blueberry cheesecake).
All About Central Harlem
Iconic Central Harlem was formed around the historic landmarked Mount Morris Park District. This area is known for beautiful leafy blocks lined with turn-of-the-century brownstones. Over the past few decades many of these homes have been exquisitely restored. At the same time a number of condominiums have been built on empty lots; some blending seamlessly into the historic backdrops while others are more striking glass and steel monoliths.The combination of wide boulevards with planted malls and zoning restrictions, keeping most buildings under 12 stories tall, along with wide sidewalks, creates a greater sense of space and ease than other congested parts of the city. It is even noticeably cooler in the summer months then it might be in Midtown.
Central Harlem is known for its magnificent, historic churches drawing international tourists year round for Sunday gospel sermons. Mount Olivet Baptist Church is a striking limestone building located on Lenox Avenue and 120th St. Just a few blocks away on Lenox and 123rd St. is the landmarked Esphesus Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is not uncommon to find newly built condominiums which have a church in their basement or next door. Some of these include: Fifth On the Park, 10 Lenox Ave. and 13 West 116th St. As the land prices rose and the bank balances of churches decreased over time, churches and developers made mutually beneficial agreements allowing the churches to have a newly built homes on their old location. Preserving the old traditions while bringing in new neighbors has created an even more vibrant community.
Culture is always alive and bustling in Harlem. The original Minton’s Playhouse, featuring many Jazz legends, reopened to great fanfare a few years ago. While waiting for the new Studio Museum of Harlem to be built, works of art can be found strategically placed throughout the neighborhood. Another great institution, the National Black Theater is also getting a new home while the famous ApolloTheater just announced a full scale renovation. No doubt 125th Street will look amazing and continue to offer world class entertainment for decades to come.
The neighborhood is graced by three parks including Central Park, Morningside Park and Mount Morris Park. Mount Morris Park boasts the newly renovated Richard Rogers Amphitheater hosting Shakespeare in the park every summer. The Pelham-Fritz recreation center is newly refurbished and is located at the western edge of the park offering indoor recreation. This vibrant park has playgrounds, gardens, public art installations, a dog run, a public swimming pool and the Harlem Fire Watchtower. This watchtower is the only surviving one of eleven cast-iron towers placed around the city beginning in the 1850’s.
The restaurant scene in Harlem is buzzing. Marcus Samuelsson boldly planted his flag at the famous Red Rooser back in 2010. He not only created a business but also purchased a brownstone nearby where he and his wife are raising a family, showing a true commitment to the community. His leadership paved the way for other creative culinary entrepreneurs to follow in his footsteps and call Harlem home. Simply traveling along Lenox Avenue you can have a feast from Field Trip on 115th Street all the way up to Lenox Saphire on 127th.
The feasting is by no means limited to Lenox Avenue. Head two blocks west to Frederick Douglass Boulevard, a dedicated restaurant row, proudly supported and promoted by the Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance. Open streets are created in warmer weather and outdoor dining options abound. True standouts and award winners includ Vinateria, Lido, Bixi and Clay. More humble but no less delicious options are Harlem Burger, Rosa’s pizza or decadednt cookies from Levain Bakery. Not hungry and just looking for one of the Best Bars in the United States? Sugar Monk, located at 2292 Frederick Douglass Boulevard is an award-winning establishment where you can enjoy outstanding craft cocktails.
Transportation is a breeze in Central Harlem. Multiple bus and subway lines are supported by a number of Citi bike stations. If you are just discovering the neighborhood for the first time, stroll slowly up and down the Avenues and enjoy exquisite architecture in this historic neighborhood. If you fall in love with the neighborhood as so many do, stop off at Nilu, Harlem signature gift shop and take home a Harlem momento.
All About East Harlem
While Harlem has long been a heart of the city’s, and the country’s, African-American population, East Harlem has played a similar role for the Latino, and specifically Puerto Rican, community. Sitting north of 110th Street and east of Fifth Avenue, “El Barrio” fills the northeast corner of Manhattan. The area was known as Italian Harlem before demographic changes around the time of World War I led to it becoming a center of Puerto Rican life and receiving the somewhat-misleading nickname Spanish Harlem. Puerto Rican culture still dominates much of life in East Harlem, with El Museo del Barrio being one of the city’s leading institutions focused on Hispanic art and culture. Alongside its Puerto Rican roots, however, the neighborhood has become increasingly diverse, attracting new residents drawn by affordable apartments in a quiet area that sits conveniently near the cultural and culinary riches of the Upper East Side.
Large scale new developments in East Harlem offer a wide variety of luxury living options in the neighborhood. Notable standouts include One Museum Mile at 1280 Fifth Avenue, overlooking the Harlem Meer in Central Park, 1399 Park, a modern, new development at 104th Street and Fifth on the Park at 1485 Fifth Avenue which overlooks Marcus Garvey Park. The neighborhood has also seen the addition of a slew of boutique condominiums and rentals filling up the neighbood’s previously empty lots. There are plenty of historic brownstones and churches in the neighborhood. The Church of St. Paul is a landmarked Roman Catholic parish located on 117th Street. The Astor Row townhouses on 130th Street, also landmarked, are notable for having front yards giving it a suburban vibe.
Rao’s and Patsy’s pizza are perhaps the most famous dining institutions in the neighborhood both having thrived for over 100 years! Newcomers to the gastronomic scene offer some high quality inventive fare in casual surroundings, yet in general the cuisine of East Harlem tends to be more casual with delicious Mexican and Italian options.
While walking off your meal you may notice the neighborhood has many vibrant murals on the side of buildings. One artist in general who is interesting to seek out is @funqest. Originally from Japan, this prolific mural artist is based in NYC and is known for wearing a large red mask so no one knows what he looks like.