Located at the northern end of Manhattan, Harlem has long been an important hub of culture and creativity. From the Harlem Renaissance to today, the area holds a critical place as a historic center of African American culture. It has been home to famous residents such as Zora Neale Hudson and Langston Hughes, brought together iconic artists including Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington, and remains at the heart of New York’s artistic community. Though Harlem has changed as gentrification creeps north, there are still many cultural anchors that retain the historic soul of the neighborhood. From dance and jazz to museums large and small, here is an art lover’s guide to Harlem.
Photo ©AMNH/ R. Mickens
On Thursday, the week-long holiday Kwanzaa kicks off as a celebration of African American culture and heritage in the United States. From Dec. 26, through Jan. 1, New Yorkers can learn about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba, through traditional music and dancing, kinara lighting, African folklore storytime, and a bar crawl featuring only black-owned businesses. Ahead, find the best places in NYC to celebrate Kwanzaa, from family-friendly arts and crafts and lectures at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to live performances at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater.
Women from all over the world unite at the Apollo Theater, photo by Shahar Azran, courtesy of the Apollo Theater
Women’s History Month comes but once a year in March, so until Women’s Day every day, we’ll have to make the most of what the city of New York has to offer. And that’s quite a lot considering all the art, culture, and history of the Big Apple. Here’s a list of what you can do to commemorate women’s indelible contributions to human flourishing, while also reflecting on how you can contribute to achieving equality, from art exhibits to comedy shows to seminars on female entrepreneurship.
To celebrate Black History Month, ride-hailing company Lyft is offering one free ride to black-owned businesses, history museums, and memorials in New York City. According to the company, 82 percent of Lyft drivers identify with a minority group, which makes the company “see the importance of celebrating the diversity that we have right around us.”
The Apollo Theater c. 1946, via Library of Congress
The Apollo Theater, the legendary venue at 253 West 125th Street “where stars are born and legends are made,” opened its hallowed doors on January 26th, 1934. That year, a 17-year-old Ella Fitzgerald made her debut at Amateur Night, kicking off a tradition that has served as a launch pad for luminaries including Sarah Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and the Jackson 5. To celebrate its 85th anniversary, we’ve rounded up 10 things you might not know about this iconic Harlem institution, from its beginnings as a whites-only burlesque club to becoming the place where James Brown recorded four albums.
Rendering via Kostow Greenwood
Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, which helped launch the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, and other such luminaries, is expanding for the first time since it opened in 1934, by adding two new performance spaces and additional office space as part of the redevelopment of the Victoria Theater on West 125th Street. Scheduled to open in fall 2020, the new Apollo Performing Arts Center will allow the nonprofit Apollo Theater to increase the number of programming, educational, and community programs it offers.
There are lots of perks that come with a top-floor apartment, including this duplex at the Dover Condominium. The building is located right in the heart of Harlem at 252 West 123rd Street. The second level of the space has both a skylight and private terrace, where you’ve got views of all the neighborhood landmarks including the Apollo Theater. As for interior design, lots of exposed brick and a wood-burning fireplace keep things feeling cozy.