Thursday, November 8, 2012

☞ INTRODUCING: West Harlem vs Williamsburg


Guest of a Guest had the inside scoop on West Harlem becoming the new Williamsburg but there's just one mistake to the feature since they are talking about a part of Harlem that is further east: 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 ├╝ber 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.

15 comments:

  1. I agree with your take on this. I hope the entreprenuerial spirit continues to make its way to our quiet enclave. I love living in Sugar Hill and appreciate the diversity. So thankful for these new establishments. By the way, the El Mundo (overstock 'super store' in the architecturally significant building on 146 and Broadway)has been shuttered. What is up?

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  2. We posted on the old Hamilton Theater last week and have not heard of any updates on what is to replace El Mundo which is moving further up north.

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  3. You meant Harlem Public. That place is awesome. Hope lots more places like that open. The area needs it. It has ton of young people looking for cool places to hang out!

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  4. My wife and I have been living in Sugar Hill since June, and had been at 149th and Broadway for 2 years before that. West Harlem continues to grow into one of nicest and most affordable areas in Manhattan. I would encourage anyone who is looking to consider becoming part of this wonderful, vibrant community.

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  5. They can be forgiven by being confused about "Central Harlem" -- most Manhattanites like to fit the island into neat little "East Side" and "West Side" boxes and if you tell them Harlem's divided into West, Central, and East you usually have to show them a map so they realize that Central Harlem in on top of Central Park, not on either side of it.

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    1. Exactly. I get a chuckle out of being told I live in East Harlem or West Harlem. Always have to explain that Lenox Ave is Central Harlem.

      But my god I hope we don't become the next Williamsburg. That neighborhood is insufferable.

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  6. Really interesting post :) I've lived in "West Harlem" for about 3.5 years now - two years in Manhattanville (on Tiemann) and now 1.5 years a short walk east (on 127th and Convent). It's shocking how different the neighborhoods are when they're so close together. The demographics are totally different, the storefronts look different and have different options, everything. I agree that the "Columbia vibe" was creeping up a lot more in Manhattanville than it is here.

    But I totally want to plug my current location (does this neighborhood have a name? I just call it West Harlem). All the shopping of 125th Street, the convenience of the express A/D trains at 125th, tons of crosstown buses, and I have a huge two bedroom apartment for cheaper than what most people pay for a one bedroom. This area isn't that gentrified yet, but I have a feeling those factors will make it become more so in the coming years... helped along by awesome new businesses like Maison Harlem in the area. Is that a good thing or bad thing? I have no idea... it's such a complicated issue.

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    1. Mad Joy- The wave of change is coming to your section as well. There was a recent rezoning that will impact your section of West Harlem in the coming years. Also something to look forward to is the former Taystee Cake factory space. The last I heard the Harlem Brewing Company will be setting up space there something similar to the Brookyln Beer space

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  7. Trufa? Tonali? Tian? Picante? Waffles spot? So much not mentioned here.. As a resident for many years I feel so much is being left out. Or how you can get a great Cafe con leche for $1 at bakery on 146st or 137st.. There are many hidden gems in this community. The great Middle eastern food spot on Amsterdam 147st... I can go on Matinee at the Dance Theater of Harlem, classes at Harlem School of the Arts.... the track at riverbank and our community Gardens!!! What about the Heritage Rose District which is a walkin tour though the community. This community has culture that Billyburg never did or will. on

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  8. Yes, we have covered all of the above individually at one point or another. The waffle spot is closed and the article is really talking about things that compare to hip Williamsburg so we selected the businesses that meet the criteria.

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  9. An excellent summary of the current state of Harlem.

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  10. Tonalli is a better restaurant than most restaurants in the Burg. Check it out along with Kovo - these are the two best restaurants in West Harlem. Both would impress a friend from out of town.

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  11. I truly don't hope it becomes a Williamsburg clone. As someone who has lived here for 15 years I welcome diversity but not the erasure of that diversity. This is a community and not a bar crawl. If it brings in new business fine but not at the sake of the people who built up this area.

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