Your Destination Guide to New York City

Destination Guide NYC - Your Destination Guide to New York, NY

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© Hobvias Sudoneighm

If Manhattan is a theme park, Harlem is its roller coaster. This northern neighborhood has experienced violently low spirals and passionately achieved upswings throughout its rich history. On the north, Harlem ends where Washington Heights begins at 153rd Street. On the south, it's a little more complicated. If you're on the east side of the island, Spanish Harlem begins at 96th Street. You enter Central Harlem at 110th and further toward the Hudson River, you leave the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights behind at 125th Street to enter this vibrant community.

Originally named after the Dutch city, Harleem, these days the area is trying to maintain its authenticity despite a host of gentrification projects threatening its borders. Harlem is proud to contain some of New York's oldest eateries, including authentically Italian Rao's, spicy Bayou and the mother of all comfort food spots, Sylvia's. Of course, Harlem would not be Harlem without its musical history. The world famous Cotton Club has been owned by gangsters and mobsters, and was a scene only the famous (or notorious) could experience. Fortunately, these days this stylish restaurant and club hosts a wider range of visitors. At legendary Lenox Lounge, you can likewise walk through the very same doors that opened for Miles Davis, John Coltraine and Billie Holiday. For a more boisterous evening, enjoy the spirit of Harlem during a show at the Apollo Theater. No matter what the act, you are guaranteed an interactive performance so exercise your vocal chords and leave your timidity at the hotel.

The next time you're in town, remember that Manhattan extends beyond 72nd Street. Just a few stops north, there are flavors, sounds, diversity and charisma that are entirely unique to Harlem but can be heard and felt far beyond its borders.

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