In the Heart of Harlem

In the Heart of Harlem, New York, New York (A)

Harlem is world-renowned as a hub of black culture. Its history is full of anecdotes about African-Americans--past and present, rich and poor, famous and infamous. The neighborhood continues to be a popular destination for all those who want to sneak a peek at American life and 125th Street remains the heartbeat of Harlem.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: In the Heart of Harlem
Guide Location: USA » New York
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: Joy Polanco
Author Bio: Joy is a 2008 graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She started her broadcast career in 2000 as a radio news reporter. In 2002, she was the winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Broadcasting by the New York State Broadcasters Association. Joy continues her pursuit of a career in broadcast journalism.
Author Website:
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • NY Amsterdam News Building
  • Magic Johnson Theatres- Harlem 9
  • Apollo Theater
  • Hotel Theresa
  • Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building
  • The Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Sylvia's Restaurant
  • Marcus Garvey Park
NY Amsterdam News Building

1) NY Amsterdam News Building

The century old newspaper started as a publication to focus on Black life in America. On December 4, 1909 a man named James H. Anderson sat down at a dressmaker’s table with six sheets of paper, a pencil and $10, which he used to invest in what would later be called the New York Amsterdam News. He sold the paper back then for 2 cents a copy outside of his mid-town Manhattan home. Eventually as more and more African-Americans migrated to Harlem and his paper grew in popularity, Anderson moved its headquarters to Harlem in 1910. It has been at its current address since the early 1940's and the paper is still being circulated to date. Devoted to stories about Harlem, the Amsterdam News has also been credited by the New York Times as having a great deal of persuasive power in many other African-American communities.
Magic Johnson Theatres- Harlem 9

2) Magic Johnson Theatres- Harlem 9

This movie theater began as part of a chain of Magic Theatres across the country. The goal of the venture was to build first-rate multiplexes in urban neighborhoods. In addition to providing a high-quality service, the theatres create jobs and encourage local economic growth and development. After the Harlem movie theater was built about a decade ago, multiple businesses followed suit including Old Navy, Disney and Starbucks. Former NBA player, Earvin "Magic" Johnson is the chairman of Magic Theatres. Johnson opened his first theater in 1995 in Crenshaw, a town in south central Los Angeles, California. Crenshaw is an area plagued with drugs and gang violence but the movie theatre became a precious gem in the troubled community. It is now closed to undergo extensive renovations and currently only two Magic Theatres remain up and running, one in Washington D.C. and this one in Harlem, U.S.A. Tel: (212) 665-6923
Apollo Theater

3) Apollo Theater

This former burlesque house opened its doors on January 26, 1934 as the 125 Street Apollo. For quite some time, Apollo was the only theater in New York City to have black entertainers. Over the years, it has earned its reputation as the place "Where Stars are Born and Legends are Made", by launching the careers of several superstars including Billie Holiday, James Brown, The Jackson 5, Diana Ross and The Supremes. Most notable is Ella Fitzgerald, who made her singing debut on Apollo's stage during Amateur Night at the tender age of 17. Box Office: (212) 531-5305
Hotel Theresa

4) Hotel Theresa

Once known as the "Waldorf Astoria" of Harlem, the 300-room Hotel Theresa had an impressive roster of past guests. Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge, Duke Ellington and even Fidel Castro are just some of the famous clientele who've either stayed or lived at the hotel. Upon its opening in 1913 and until the construction of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building in 1973, the hotel was the tallest building in Harlem. Hotel Theresa boasts a neo-renaissance style with a striking white brick facade and was declared a historical landmark in 1993. Although the hotel closed more than 40 years ago, the building remains open and is now called Theresa Towers.
Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building

5) Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building

This nineteen-story high-rise is named after the first African-American elected to Congress from New York. Construction of the building was completed in 1974 and was originally called the Harlem State Office Building. It was renamed after the former Congressman in 1983. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. represented Harlem in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1945 to 1971. He was a vital supporter of important civil rights legislation during his service. In 1970, he was defeated in his election to a much younger Charlie Rangel amid allegations of corruption. The Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building has the dubious distinction of being the tallest building in Harlem and a bit of an eye-sore. The “killer building” is perceived by some as a visual nuisance from the era of mass urban renewal. One of its positive attributes however is its front plaza called African Square. In addition to having a farmer’s market operating during the spring through early fall, it’s also used for summertime staged musical performances. Tel: 212-961-4390
The Studio Museum in Harlem

6) The Studio Museum in Harlem

This is the place to go if you want a definite cultural experience during your Harlem visit. Containing more than 1600 contemporary and permanent works of art, the museum puts a spotlight on African culture. Founded in 1968, The Studio Museum devoted itself to showcasing the artwork of 19th and 20th century Black-American artists. This includes the work of James Van Der Zee, who photographed Harlem life and celebrities during the 1920's through the 1980’s. The museum continues its mission of education and features an Artist-in-Residence program to advance talented artists of African and Latino descent. The museum is located in a small enough space which makes it inviting and accessible. It also features a shop with merchandise that nicely compliments all that the Studio Museum represents. Tel: 212.864.4500 Fax: 212.864.4800


Monday Closed

Tuesday Closed

Wednesday Closed

Thursday 12 PM-9 PM

Friday 12 PM-9 PM

Saturday 10 AM-6 PM

Target Free Sunday 12 PM-6 PM

The Museum is closed on Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Sylvia's Restaurant

7) Sylvia's Restaurant

Famous for their "soul food", the restaurant was founded by entrepreneur Sylvia Woods in 1962. In addition to its high-profile patrons such as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Jesse Jackson, Sylvia's has become known for its down-home southern comfort cuisine. As a result, Sylvia has been dubbed the "Queen of Soul Food". Born in South Carolina in 1926, Mrs. Woods is an American success story. The restaurant is complimented by a private catering business and sells a full line of soul food products available in supermarkets and grocery stores nationwide. In the 1990’s, Mrs. Woods published two cookbooks called Sylvia’s Soul Food Cookbook and Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook. As the mother of four children, Sylvia’s has become a family dynasty and Sylvia Woods has become a household name. Tel: (212) 996-2669 Fax: (212) 427-6389

Hours: Monday - Saturday 8:00 AM - 10:30 PM Sunday: 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM.
Marcus Garvey Park

8) Marcus Garvey Park

Originally called Mount Morris Park, Marcus Garvey Park is located in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park Historic District. Some of the area’s finest brownstones surround its more than 20-acres, which are maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The park features a natural rock formation, a fire watchtower, an amphitheater and playgrounds. In 1973, Mount Morris Park was named after the black nationalist leader Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. Garvey was born on the island of Jamaica in 1887. While in Harlem, he gave speeches advocating for the civil and human rights of all people of African ancestry. The more than 150-year-old park is one of the oldest public squares in Manhattan and an integral part of Harlem life.

Walking Tours in New York, New York

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New York's Central Park Walking Tour

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Arguably the most famous public park in the world today, Central Park has been called the lungs of New York City – literally “central”, it is where Manhattanites go to get a sense of space and air. Plan for at least half a day to wander along its many pathways, take a rowboat on the water, enjoy the landscaping and the numerous man-made wonders, spend some time at the zoo or bring a pair of...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Brooklyn New York Walking Tour

Brooklyn New York Walking Tour

Named after the Breukelen village in the Netherlands, Brooklyn, one of New York City’s five boroughs, occupies the western tip of Long Island. Its history began in the 17th century as a small Dutch settlement on the East River shore; Brooklyn Heights, or Clover Hill, is where the village was founded, in 1646.

By the 19th century, Brooklyn had grown into a sizable town. The iconic Brooklyn...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Columbia University Walking Tour

Columbia University Walking Tour

Established in 1754, Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of New York and the fifth-oldest in the United States. A member of the prestigious Ivy League, this renowned institution boasts a diverse campus designed along Beaux-Arts planning principles. Columbia's main campus occupies more than six city blocks in Morningside Heights, New York City, and is...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Times Square to Central Park

Times Square to Central Park

A leisurely self-guided stroll from Times Square to Central Park will take you to some of NYC’s prominent locations, each worth visiting in their own right.

At 49th Street, Fifth Avenue lives up to its lofty reputation with the Rockefeller Center, one of the world’s biggest business and entertainment complexes, and a triumph of Art Deco architecture. Like the neighboring Times Square, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour

Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour

Welcome to the iconic New York City that so many tourists dream about before they visit – spectacular skyscrapers, iconic public buildings, large neon flat screens above ground level and the non-stop activity on city streets.

They say if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, and Times Square, Broadway, is definitely a part of that slogan. Day time or night time, it’s one of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
NYC Greenwich Village Walking Tour

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The tree-lined streets of Greenwich Village with its cafes, bars and restaurants, jazz clubs and Off-Broadway theaters amid the brownstones will enthuse you as a visitor. Writers and poets, artists and radicals, runaway socialites, and others seeking freedom from conventional lifestyles have long flocked to this spot, lit most famously by the counterculture figures of the 1950s and '60s: Jack...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles

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