The New York-East & Central Harlem trek, a 3 miles self-guided tour to experience Latino culture then a gentrified and trendy area, will take you about 2 hours of strolling and taking photos, much more if you visit the galleries along the way.

You’ll see plenty of local restaurants, street art and graffities, small and colorful shops, impressive brownstones, art galleries, and a jazz museum (details and photos under the map)

Highlights: street art, murals, community gardens, Demolition Depot, murals, Crak is Wack, the National Jazz Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Strivers’ Row, Harlem School of the Art.

A: Your tour starts out of 110 St Metro. It immerses you right away in the ethnic diversity of the neighborhood.  For about half of this trek, street life will be the main attraction.

Don’t miss the murals on 110th St, on the right when you go to 3rd Ave. Then take 3rd Ave on your left.

People are talking in front of small shops of all kinds; elderly men sitting on folding chairs seem to guard their entrance; kids in uniforms are walking to or from their schools; small restaurants don’t bother to cater to nearly non-existent tourists; and there could be some illegal activities going on here and there. In any case, you feel the underlying energy of the area.

B: You’ll see more murals on the wall of a Middle School after E113th St, then at the corner of E 115th St.

A bit further, at Silberman School of Social Work, you’ll find an art gallery (open from Wed to Sat, 12-5pm). It  exhibits works often related to Latin America and the Caribbean, but it’s not always sure the guys at the front desk will know about it. Be persistent!

C: Once out, keep walking on 3rd Ave until E 120th St.  Take it on your left: you’ll pass in front of Harlem Art Park, yet the art here is still scare, and it’s not easy to enter the park!

Then turn right on Lexington Ave and right again on E 121th St.

D: You’ll be next to the Harlem Community Justice Center, a problem solving court established quite a while ago. For you, it’s an imposing building with a Romanesque Revival façade and Victorian Gothic elements of decoration.

E&F: Once back on 3rd Ave, take it left and keep walking until E 125th St. 125th St is the main Harlem artery.

If you’ve heard of the Demolition Depot and Irreplaceable Artifacts, a building full of reclaimed stuffs for the house, it was there, a bit further on your right.  You can still see its façade, but the shop has moved to a yet still undisclosed location.

A bit further, at the end of 128th St and on the right, there was a famous mural by Keith Haring, “Crack is Whack”.  Painted illegally in 1986 on a handball court, it had then been protected by the City. However, the area is now under construction and the mural seems to have disappeared. So, except if you want to go on a pilgrimage to these two places, turn left on 125th St until Lexington Av.  You’ll take on your right instead of following what’s indicated on the map.

Your destination, the Harlem Rose Garden, is a community garden and an historical landmark. It’s also mainly an excuse to go to E129th St as the garden is not often open. The street is always pretty with its trees on both side, and you’ll take it on your left once on Lexington Ave.

You’ll soon see a row of house with blue porches, a view more reminiscent of the South than NYC. A bit further, an imposing church: the garden will be on your left once you cross Park Ave.

The neighborhood looks wealthy and quite gentrified compared to the 1st section of your trek. It looks like it has been invested by an often young and trendy crowd.

G: You are now in Central Harlem. The National Jazz Museum will be on your right just before Malcolm X Blvd.

It celebrates Harlem jazz history with exhibitions, photos and records. Yet inquire beforehand about its opening hours if you want to visit it.

H: To keep in the vein of Harlem history, the Schomburg library, just before W 135th St once  you take the Malcolm X Blvd on your right, offers exhibitions centered on Black Culture in at least two different galleries.

I: Your next goal will be Strivers’ Row, rows of brownstone houses in Georgian, Colonial or Italian Revival Style depending where you are.  Built in the late 1900 and originally intended for upper-middle-class whites, they circle private courtyards. The signs “Walk Your Horses” at the entrance of their gated alleyways speaks of another time! To reach this place, find W 138th St and take it on your left.

J: At the end of the street, you’ll be on St Nicholas Ave. Turn right to reach your last stop, the Harlem School of the Arts. It has a gallery whose exhibitions are often organized to challenge your perceptions or assumptions.

It’s on this note that this New York-East & Central Harlem trek ends. If you want to keep walking, though, you are now at the beginning of the West Harlem trek.

Good to know: you’ll find different kind of restaurants along your way, especially in the main avenues. Restrooms are available in the galleries and museums, as well as places to sit.

Metro: 110 St on line 6 (start) and 135 St or 145 St on lines B or C (end)

Tips: They are welcome, see suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance for your contribution!

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