So we’ve been exploring the neighbourhood as you’d expect and there’ll be many postings I’m sure on what we discover in the area. But just to set your bearings we live on west 123rd st in Lower Harlem. The area to the west is Morningside Heights dominated by the impressive campus of Ivy League status Columbia university. To the east of us is East or Spanish Harlem which is the tougher end of town.
Closer in our street is bounded at the west end of the block by Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, running N-S. He represented Harlem in the House of Representatives for donkey’s years and was the first Congressman of Afro-Caribbean descent elected from New York. To the east our street is bounded by Malcolm X Boulevard and I’m sure you know he was the human rights activist in the 60’s who was later assassinated. And two streets to the north of us is 125th street or as it is now more famously known Martin Luther King Boulevard. MLK, the civil rights leader who was also gunned down, was one of my personal heroes (alongside my dad and Paul Newman – an unlikely holy trinity I grant you) so I’m personally pleased to live near the road that honours his name.
And this is no suburban back street either; 125th is the main artery running through Harlem and we’re always using it. It’s the main transport hub. On the corner with MX Boulevard is our local subway station from where we can get the 2 or 3 trains downtown or out to the Bronx. Elliott loves riding the train. We also catch the 15 bus from the same corner which takes us all the way west through to the Cotton Club and one of our favourite food markets Fairway.
But if you looking for shops then MLK Boulevard has some lulus. Not just the big retail chains like Marshalls for homeware (which we ended up visiting the first 4 days of our stay!) and clothing chains like The Gap, Old Navy etc but some genuinely iconic local brands stores selling trainers and the wildest suits and clothes for the larger lady (popular round here)…
Measure me up for one of those suits! There are street sellers along the strip too flogging all manner of crap which adds to the atmosphere. It’s bustling and vibrant but it ain’t 5th Avenue. Anyway I like it. And right slap in the middle is the wonderful Apollo Theatre where many of the great soul singers of the 60’s and 70’s performed and whose careers are honoured with plaques on the pavement outside. The Jacksons, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin etc are all here…
Check out this line-up from the early days, amazing….
That’s 125th street for you. More posts about the ‘hood to follow.