Talk to 5 different people, and you may get 5 different opinions on living in Harlem. However, most of the negative opinions probably come from people who have never been to Harlem, or haven’t been there in quite some time. And while it’s not the bargain it once was, the cost of living in Harlem is not as great as it is below 110th Street… or whatever is the neighborhood boundary du jour.
Just as certain self-congratulatory downtown friends of mine used to claim that they “never go above 14th Street” (they were lying, but that’s ok), there was once a barrier on both the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, above which people would not consider in their hunt for a Manhattan rental apartment. 86th Street… 96th Street… and, more recently “above the Park” (or, 110th Street), have all been cited in my time here in New York City.
Thing is, because Manhattan (and NYC, for that matter) is constantly changing, to dismiss ANY part of town out of hand when searching for your no-fee rental apartment is to miss out not only on a potentially great deal, but, more important, on a great place to live. A couple of things reminded me of this basic fact of NYC-life these past few weeks, and so thought they might also inspire you to consider living in Harlem.
For example, there’s the East Harlem luxury rental apartment building Tapestry, on 124th Street Street right off Second Avenue (picture at top). Tapestry first started leasing its almost 200 units about two years ago, one of the first Manhattan luxury rentals to be developed in that stretch of East Harlem.
Not only is this place loaded with sought-after amenities–including a Media Lounge with full kitchen and large-screen TV; bike storage and 24-hour attended garage; fitness center and 5,000 square feet of green roof and landscaped terraced–Tapestry also is likely to receive its LEED Gold Certification in the near future.
Other new East Harlem rental apartments have followed, especially after the completion this year of Hunter College’s spanking-new, $137-million Silberman School of Social Work on Third Avenue and 119th Street. And remember: with college campuses come those lively, community-making stores, services, coffee shops and restaurants of the sort that college students want to patronize.
As for shopaholics, East Harlem has the East River Plaza, full of those big box stores you don’t often find in the city. Currently it’s the home of cost-conscious but chic fave Target, as well as Costco, Best Buy, Marshall’s and many other stores.
Meanwhile, over in Harlem (or, West Harlem, as it’s sometimes known), the New York Times Times featured the neighborhood in a recent (totally voyeuristic and therefore totally recommended) Habitats column, zeroing in on the home and community feelings of Lucie Holt, who found herself on Frederick Douglass Boulevard last year by way of first Long Island, then Battery Park City and, originally, southwest London.
Holt is clearly a fan of West Harlem apartment living: “She quickly became enamored of a local florist–no surprise given the profusion of orchids, cacti and other succulents in her apartment–along with Bier International, which advertises itself as Harlem’s first beer garden. ‘Plus we have the best organic supermarket just four blocks away,’ she said. ‘And I’m right near Central Park. How great is that?’” Very great, Lucie Holt., Very great indeed.
Sounds like a ringing endorsement for living in Harlem. So before you head to Brooklyn for something more affordable, consider staying in Manhattan and heading uptown. You may be surprised at what living in Harlem is all about.
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