Monday, December 2, 2013

☞ DWELL: Number 3: The Lower FDB Corridor

Harlem is a large part of Manhattan that changes block by block so we have put together a list of the best micro-nabes in Harlem based on location, architecture, transportation and local amenities. This is our own opinion based on reporting on the neighborhood for a few years and a new post will be made each day until the number one spot has been revealed.

No. 3: Lower Frederick Douglass Boulevard Corridor,  South Harlem, 8th Avenue between 110th and 124th Street.  The lower FDB Corridor's dense stock in new condo buildings and the bustling commercial offerings adjacent to Central Park made it one of the best NYC neighborhoods in 2010 but that was when the rest of Harlem was still starting to develop.  During the recession, a lot of families and home buyers seeking more space took advantage of all the new construction available that was often offered at almost half the price of most downtown or Upper West Side buildings.

The area then transformed into a perfect new middle class neighborhood that could support the boutique businesses that now populate the South Harlem commercial district. On FDB, one can purchase meats at the local artisanal butcher, have a seat at two great Italian eateries,  get a carb fix at the local bakery, sip at a boutique tea shop,  dine at a new Indian eatery,  get some authentic Japanese sushi,  grab a bite of Ethiopian cuisine, send a pet to daycare, sign up for a yoga class, drink at a couple of beer gardens or drop into a hip speakeasy to just name a few choices.  Nowhere else in Harlem can one find such a long list of up and coming shops but those who want a little charm in their neighborhood might find it lacking along the strip.

This section of 8th Avenue had so many open, abandoned lots back in 80s that it basically had to be rebuilt.  The new buildings are decent enough and have all of the updated amenities to them but somehow this makes the neighborhood feel more perfunctory.  If one just wants modern living amenities and easy access to great shops, then FDB fits the bill.  Those who want a little more of what buyers are seeking for in the village downtown or Brooklyn, then this commercial strip might not be the right fit.


  1. A good summary of the area. Of course beauty is the eye of the beholder and there are those that love new construction, but I think this is a fair ranking for the neighborhood given its lack of architectural charm. I suspect if amenities keep improving elsewhere in harlem this will slip over time. I personally would rather be one or two blocks east or west and have the amenities nearby and maitain classic charm. But living in old buildings has its downsides too !

  2. Very good description of the neighborhood. In my opinion, the most prized areas of Harlem will ultimately be those with architectural beauty with a character that also sets Harlem apart from the rest of Manhattan. At one time the Frederick Douglass Boulevard corridor was uniquely the face of the new Harlem offering a clean slate of new restaurants and condos in contrast to the remainder of Harlem that was mostly a picture of neglect and very sparse shopping and dining options, with some notable exceptions. That has changed and continues to change as greater Harlem improves and more services become available. Some people will always prefer to live in an area of new condos and that is great as Harlem now offers this in lower FDB.

  3. Does anyone have pix of what that area looked like in the 80's? Always love before and after shots.

  4. I live over on Mount Morris Park, which has plenty of residential charm and the classic Harlem brownstone look. For grocery shopping I walk over a few blocks to Best Yet on FDB. You're right, FDB has a bunch of great shops and is very livable and getting more and more impressive by the day. But I really like the residential charm where I am. Hopefully Lenox and some of the other great Harlem corridors will follow in the footsteps of FDB as far as retail shops and amenities.

  5. Lower FDB paints a picture of old and new harlem working together