Blog Post 1/Harlem NY-Lisa White

Hi, my name is Lisa and I live on the upper westside of Manhattan known as Hamilton Heights.  My street encompasses 151st Street between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway.  On my block, we have five to six story buildings that are primarily walkups.  A few of the buildings on my block are coops and the remainder are rentals.  All the buildings are from the early 1900’s, so we have large apartments which offsets, for me, having to walk up five flights every day.

My street is lined with trees which helps to make the neighborhood attractive.  All the buildings on 151st Street are brick buildings with Grecian ornamentation.  The front of every building has a fire escape for each floor and prewar apartments.  The buildings are of a warm color (tans, brown, and red brick); some buildings have a stoop while others are ground level.

Now that Harlem is so popular, there are many eateries, cafes, and pubs in the neighborhood lining Broadway.     On the corner of Amsterdam, I have a Bodega that stays open 24 hours and delivers anything I want and off Broadway a Brick Oven Pizzeria.

Within the immediate area I have seven buses all within walking distance and six trains.  I can travel from the West Side of Manhattan to the East Side with ease.  Our major shopping district is 125th Street.  On 125 you have a lot of urban stores and main stream outlets like The Gap, Banana Republic, and Bed Bath and Beyond.  The most significant change on 125 is the Whole Foods Supermarket which opened up this summer.

The most important part of living on 151st Street are the people.  On this block, we have a mixture of ethnic groups; Dominican, Black, Jamaican, and White.  This is to me the genius loci of my street, a true sense of community.  Once you are accepted on my block, everyone looks out for you and your family.

During the summer, a lot of the residents sit in front of their respective buildings playing music or listening to the old timers.  This summer we had our first block BBQ at our neighboring Riverside Park.   Within the neighboring streets we have three churches, a community center, the famous Dance Theatre of Harlem, a few grocery stores, and Trinity Church Cemetery.  Down the block is the prominent Convent Ave which has always been known for their Brownstones and picturesque street.  The brownstones on Convent Ave are predominantly black owned which gives me a sense of pride.  One block away from Broadway is Riverside Drive.  Riverside Drive have buildings ranging from ten to fifteen stories, brownstones, a stretch of park benches, bike paths, a mini playground and a clear view of the Hudson River and New Jersey.  We have two major colleges; City College and Columbia University.

To me there is no other place like Harlem; a dense, urban city within New York City.  Harlem in its entirety is a genius locus.  The spirit of Harlem welcomes everyone who decides to call it home.


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