Thursday, November 8, 2012
☞ INTRODUCING: West Harlem vs Williamsburg
LINK. The area discussed is basically Central Harlem which has been divided into a new subsection called South Harlem below 125th Street over the years. Central Harlem is starting to look like a typical downtown Manhattan neighborhood such as the West Village or Chelsea and West Harlem is the more low key alternative on the other side of town.
West Harlem technically starts above 122nd Street, ends at 155th Street on the north side and has rough borders around the main parks on the east side (just north of Morningside Park, the west edge of St. Nicholas Park and the west edge of Jackie Robinson Park). This quiet neighborhood has become an affordable haven for young folks and creative types over the past few years and many home buyers are attracted by the landmark brownstones.
West Harlem consists of Manhattanville and Hamilton Heights which has become the area to move to for a lot of young renters because of the neighborhood's proximity to Columbia University and City College. The nabe is probably one of the most diverse uptown since the section over by Broadway is very Domincan and Mexican while further past Amsterdam, the neighborhood is traditionally African American. Both sections have seen an influx of white renters or homeowners fleeing the expensive prices found further downtown. Below 125th Street, Manhattanville feels more like an extension of über gentrified Morningside Heights but also has a few large housing projects within the vicinity.
As far as hip places to go in West Harlem, there's not much happening except for a couple of new establishments. Grab a drink at the Harlem Public on 149th Street and Broadway to see the full range of people living in the neighborhood on any given night. The Chipped Cup coffee shop provide a chill day spot that is just next door. If one is to find a hipster uptown, this would be the places to see them.
Then there is Manhattanville's main commercial strip by 12th Avenue just north of 125th Street that actually looked like Williamburg's warehouse section at one point but Columbia University has since taken over and demolished the majority of those buildings. Old favorite like Dinosaur BBQ, Covo and Fairway can be found here but any sort of cool vibe has been lost since most of this section of town has become a large construction site and will eventually be a glassy new campus.
For those who want a little more quiet in a less expensive neighborhood and can wait a bit for some better hot spots to open, then West Harlem is probably the best bet. Rents for larger apartments in a walk up building in the lower 150s are pretty reasonable still and large one bedrooms with full separate kitchen plus a substantial living room can be found in some prewars for slightly over $1,000 per month.