Neighbourhood: Harlem in New York
Tourists often question the safety of Harlem in New York. Many people think that New York is a very dangerous city. That idea comes from the 80’s and early 90’s when there was a huge crack problem. A lot has changed: now New York is one of the safest cities in America. Harlem used to have a very bad name, but is now heading in the right direction. I do not have any problem with walking around alone at night. And Bill Clinton has no problem either: his personal office is located here.
The history of Harlem is very interesting with a lot of tragic elements, but also some very beautiful events. There is a lot to tell about this neighbourhood, in short: it all started in 1626 when the Dutch called this area “Nieuw Haarlem” (New Harlem). At the end of the 19th century it was a very chic neighbourhood. This is architecturally present, with many beautiful houses. The white people left after the real estate crash of the 1930s. Soon after, African Americans from the South came to Harlem looking for jobs.
Harlem is of course well known for its musical history. And there is still a lot to do and see with regards to this. Certainly visit the illustrious Apollo Theater on 125th Street between Frederic Douglas and 7th Avenue. Every week there is an Amateur Night where you can help determine the winner by booing or applauding accordingly.
It is also very nice to do a Gospel Tour in Harlem. Walking into a church on a Sunday morning is certainly not done, so make sure to book before you go. Tours are every week on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Food and Drinks in Harlem
Go for the traditional African American cuisine called Soul Food. It is a lot like the food available in the Southern states of America (Louisiana, Mississippi etc.). With its fried chicken, sweet potatoes and beans it is not the kind of food to eat if you are on a diet. A new place and a hotspot (where Obama held a fundraiser) is Red Rooster Harlem on 126th Street and Lenox Avenue. I think you have to reserve at least a few weeks in advance, but I have also just dropped by and was seated within 15 minutes. Jam packed? Walk down a block on the same street to Sylvia’s Restaurant and enjoy real Soul Food with a rich history.“Shrine” on Adam Clayton Jr blvd and 134th Street. Live music and few tourists. Very good.