Highlights of Harlem

From the Apollo Theater to the Hue-Man Bookstore, get to know some of the great places and landmarks in Harlem, NY.
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Photo By: Romer Pedron and Karia Hill

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The City College of New York was the first college in The City University of New York system. Since its doors opened in 1847, the school prides itself on serving a diverse student body. When CCNY sought a new home it considered 40 different sites before selecting land between St. Nicholas Terrace and Convent Ave, stretching from 138th street to 140th in Hamilton Heights. This is where the school remains today. CCNY offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs along with 13 doctoral programs.

This state landmark was built in 1914. Its mission is to honor the influence and advance the contributions of African-American artists. It has various concerts, amateur night and educational programs.

Duke Ellington was a famous African-American composer who was best known for his contribution to jazz. To honor his memory a statue of him was unveiled in 1997. The statue by Robert Graham is 25 feet tall and depicts the Muses holding up a grand piano and Duke himself. It stands in the Duke Ellington Circle, a shallow amphitheater on 110th street, also known as the boundary between Central Park and Harlem. It is also the future site of the Museum for African Art.

One of the sweetest landmarks of Harlem is Make My Cake. There are two locations -- one on St. Nicholas Ave and one on Adam C. Powell Blvd. The bakeries are a tribute to Josephine Smith ("Ma Smith") who combined southern baking traditions with Harlem soul. Thousands of people visit each year seeking their well-known German Chocolate and Red Velvet cakes and Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

The Studio Museum is a showcase for artists of African descent and for work that has been inspired and influenced by black culture. It has been open since 1968.

The Lenox Lounge has played a large role in Harlem's community since it opened in the late 1930s. The club served as the backdrop for many jazz legends. Today, it still showcase the best talent in jazz, along with a menu of amazing eats.

In 1973, Mount Morris Park was renamed Marcus Garvey Park to honor the man who was an advocate of black nationalism and economic self-sufficiency. The park itself played a role in colonial times and was often referred to as Snake Hill because of its reptile population. British fortifications on the site of the park were used to guard the Harlem River during the Revolutionary War. Today the park is home to playgrounds, a community center, an amphitheater and a pool.

Located on Lenox Ave, the Maysles Cinema is the only independent film house north of Lincoln Center. The film house not only shows documentary films, but then encourages dialogue around it. Filmmakes are invited to attend the screenings and actively participate with the viewers afterwards.

The Red Rooster serves comfort food that celebrates the roots of American cuisine. It has a large dining room and bar. The head chef, Marcus Samuelsson won Top Chef Masters 2.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a national research library (part of the New York Public Library system) devoted to collecting, preserving and providing access to resources documenting the experiences of peoples of African descent throughout the world. It houses over 10,000,000 items such as manuscripts, photos, books, videos and sheet music. It also sponsors programs and events that illuminate and illustrate the richness of black history and culture.

One of the newest landmarks in Harlem is Chill Berry, a frozen yogurt shop. With the belief that everyone should be able to eat healthy snacks, husband and wife team Jason and Tiffany Martin opened the store to help provide an alternative. The self-serve model allows customers to buy as little or much as they want. This is the first fro-yo store in Harlem.

The Food for Life Supreme restaurants, including the 116th St location in NY, are all about health eating for the mind and body. They use quality ingredients and prepare them in a new, healthier manner.

Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King's College by King George II of England. It's the oldest high learning institution in New York. In 1784 it became Columbia University and in 1897 it moved to its present location on Morningside Heights at 116th St. Today the school offers graduate and undergraduate programs along with law, medical and teaching schools.

Minton's Playhouse was an iconic jazz venue that used to be part of the Cecil Hotel at 210 West 118th St. It has been closed but it is rumored that it will reopen in Spring 2012 as an entertainment complex with a club and lounge. The new owner wants to bring jazz back to the area.

This French bistro is an unexpected surprise in Harlem. The owner fell in love with the area and decided to open an affordable French destination. The food and atmosphere have gotten great reviews and the restaurant seems to have filled a need in the city.

The Hue-Man Bookstore is the largest African-American bookstore in the country. The store offers a variety of books, author appearances and community events. It strives to bring together members of the community and show others all the great things Harlem has to offer.

This permanent outdoor market is the place to go to find African crafts, clothing and art. It has a colorful and friendly atmosphere with reasonable prices.

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