I enjoyed visiting Harlem for the first time. This area, since the 1920’s, has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. It was great to see the famed Apollo Theater on 125th St. and see some of the beautiful old brownstones.
I tried Red Rooster at 310 Lenox Ave., just north of 125th, owned by award-winning chef, cookbook author and food activist, Marcus Samuelsson, which opened in December 2010. It serves comfort food celebrating the roots of American cuisine and the diverse culinary traditions of Harlem. I had a really wonderful lunch (gazpacho and shrimp with dirty rice) in the attractive, well designed dining room with great art by local artists. The service was really good also. In the basement, they have Ginny’s Supper Club for soul food, craft cocktails and live music.
While there you might check out the Studio Museum at 144 W. 125th Street, between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. The Studio Museum is the nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally and internationally and for work that has been inspired and influenced by black culture.
Apollo Theater: According to AFAR Magazine, the “Apollo Theater has long acted not only as a beacon of budding talent but also as a safe space for Black entertainers to perform freely. Up until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, theaters and performance spaces throughout the United States were segregated, meaning that Black artists, dancers, and musicians had to seek out specific places to display their talent onstage. Originally established in 1914, the Apollo began to nurture and celebrate Black talent in the mid-1930s, opening its doors to Black patrons and welcoming greats such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Duke Ellington, Etta James, Ray Charles, and many others to its stage. More than 85 years later, the Harlem landmark still hosts regular live performances.” 253 W 125th St.
Spanish Harlem/East Harlem/El Barrio
This area is in the northeastern part of Manhattan which has a large number or residents of Puerto Rican descent as well as large populations of other Latin Americans and African-Americans. I went to El Museo del Barrio at 1230 Fifth Ave., at 104th Street. It is a leading Latino cultural institution with a focus on the artistic and cultural landscape of the Caribbean and Latin America. Make sure to add this to your list of museums to see.
I walked over to the area around 104th and Lexington, just east of the Museo, to see some of the wall murals and graffiti walls that are found throughout the neighborhood.