Harlem–Nowhere to go but Up?

By Harlemista

Last week New York Magazine did a cover story evaluating the best neighborhoods in New York City with their criteria including housing costs, restaurants, shopping and services, schools, diversity, green space and health and environment.  Surprisingly and disappointingly to us who live here and love it, Harlem came in an almost-bottom 50th.

And yet, in a neighboring article on the hottest neighborhoods of the future, three of ten real estate agents chose areas of Harlem as the Next Big Thing because of its space, parks, proximity to great transportation and pricing.

Personally I don’t want Harlem to become the next Park Slope, Lower East Side or (shudder) Meatpacking District. I love the diversity, the history, and the simple non-overkill of amenities. There’s a beautiful yet fragile harmony here right now. Too many New York neighborhoods have relinquished their original personalities in a frenzy of commercialism and overpopulation.  I hope we maintain a balance here.

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7 Comments

  1. I sort of disagree, there is alot I love in Harlem, but I do think we need more services, we could use better and cleaner manicure shops and hair salons. We need fresh baked breads and bagels. We do need fat free/sugar free yougart. it does not have to be from a chain, but we don’t have many fruit stores, we don’t have cheese shops and flower shops. I just wish many of the people that do have businesses would clean them up a bit and make them more desireable to go into. I also think we have far too much litter in the streets.

    I find myself spending more money on things mentioned above out of the neighborhood, than in the neighborhood. I would like to keep more of my spending dollars in HARLEM…

  2. When I first read the article, I was livid. But when I thought about it, I was happy to see us score so poorly. The charm of Harlem is in its character and originality. The last thing we need is an influx of Starbucks-sipping, Pinkberry-loving hipsters taking over the ‘hood. I pray we don’t follow in the steps of the Slope, Williamsburg, or the now-despicable Meatpacking. And while it would be nice to have more dining and retails options, the last thing we need are more BOX SHOPS or CHAIN STORES further deminishing the once great number of Mom-and-Pop shops in New York.

    It’s bad enough that an AppleBee’s opened on 125. With the re-zoning of 125th as it stands, we’re going to see more and more of the little guys pushed out to see the corporations eat our hood alive: Enter Duane Reade on 125th, the litany of Banks, Starbucks, and other such chains. And then the W next to the Apollo and the new plans for the vacant lot on 125 and Lenox. Corporate box shops bleach neighborhoods (look at the East Village).

    If I wanted to live in a neighborhood that looks like so many others, I never would have chosen to live in Harlem. I did, and I love it.

  3. Maybe we need to form a newcomers group to Harlem, and also work with businesses to convince more to “take a chance” andopen up here. We need a GAP, we need a Banana Republic, we need Tasti d Lite ( at least I do), we need Bagels. Also how great would it be if a Trader Joe’s opened up in Central harlem. SO many people and things can make the difference. Its great here for both being in The City and so easy from here to get out of The City. I do love Harlem.

  4. I am in my 8th year living in Harlem. Before that I was in Inwood for 6 years and in Morningside Heights for 3 years before that. I agree with those who are hoping that Harlem continues to progress in a reasonable fashion. Harlem has one advantage over every other neighborhood in the city that I’m familiar with (which is a lot of neighborhoods, by the way): Community & Neighborliness. And you don’t have to be originally from here to be the beneficiary of it. Right after I moved in, a neighbor heard I was working on my garden and he dropped by and gave me some hosta and rose bushes. Now neighbors in other neighborhoods may do stuff like that, but not often for new immigrants to the neighborhood. Harlem is just different that way and that was one stand-out of countless daily examples of how people in Harlem value everyday human interaction. And of course talking about the New York Magazine piece – “Sense of Community.” “Kindness to strangers.” “Neighborliness” ‘Civility” were not in the list of criteria. So the things that Harlem seems to value the highest were not part of the testing criteria at all.

  5. I think Harlem is the place to move to. Ass I have said before its only 1 or 2 stops more on the subway and you have a whole new world to explore and help create and you are never leaving Manhattan. All Harlem is, is another neighborhood in Manhattan. Its not another boro. There are many tax breaks for moving here and starting businesses as well. It just gets better each week. Its alot closer to everything than parts of lower Manhattan. I think people have a mind set against Harlem and its wrong to feel that way. No one wanted Tribecca for years and now its gone sky high, same with The Meat packing area, the same will happen in Harlem too.

  6. I think the first sentence of the article tells the real story:
    “When I moved to New York from Chicago last April, I had an awful lot of trouble picking a neighborhood. I looked at apartments almost everywhere—Williamsburg, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Chinatown, Tribeca, Soho, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village […]”

    “almost everywhere” to this recent transplant apparently means “south of 14th St and several subway stops into Brooklyn”. Not exactly an authority I put much stock in.

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