Beautifully renovated townhouses are slowly replacing older buildings. And people who at one point wouldn’t have dared to go above 125th Street now not only go up there, but choose to live there for the space, affordable rent, culture and neighborly vibe. Harlem stepped into the limelight in the early 21st century, when Bill Clinton decided to establish the headquarters of the Clinton Foundation on 125th St. (The foundation has since moved its doors to Water St.)
That transition is noted by the first luxury brand name hotel to ever exist in Harlem, Aloft Harlem, which just opened its doors to the public in 2011, and the opening of dozens of restaurants in the area by critically acclaimed chefs. The Cecil, an Afro-Asian American brasserie founded by Richard Parsons, has made quite a splash, and the historical Lenox Lounge, which once hosted the likes of John Coltrane, is being renovated and face lifted by Nobu managing partner, Richie Notar.
Lower Harlem is home to forever-expanding Columbia University, a sterling, ornate institution alive with some of the best and brightest young people in the country (and the world). It’s also home to The City College of the City University of New York, otherwise known as CUNY, and Barnard College, an all women’s college that is a bastion for female leaders. Between the three colleges, you’re likely to see a stream of students hustling to make it to class on time. Barnard hosts the Athena Film Festival every February, which focuses on films made by and about extraordinary women. And Columbia’s campus is truly beautiful, white marble columns gracing white stone buildings, and a nice perk of living in this area is getting to stroll through their main campus on your way to the subway, as the 1 train stops right there.Find Harlem apartments
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For great brunch, you’ll love Kitchenette--a homey, mom and pop type place which is a favorite among Columbia students.
Harlem’s arts scene is thriving, with many venues playing old-school jazz, hosting rotating galleries, and featuring new filmmakers.
The area celebrates its artistic eclecticism with the Harlem Arts Festival every year, a performing and visual arts festival featuring local artists, performers, dancers, and musicians.