Armed with Alegra (for my blooming allergies) and an umbrella, I met Gina C., who wanted to join me on today's city walk. It was overcast with occasional drizzles as we walked from the intersection of 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, where I once witnessed a random act of kindness that has since been dubbed "so New York." We speculated from block to block on how we could snag our own Harlem brownstones and then settled for splitting a white chocolate, macadamia and cherry cookie from Make My Cake bakery on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard before going our separate ways.
Card No. 41 - photos
Like the song says, you really do take the A train to Harlem.
Begin at 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue
(A, B, C, or D train to 125th Street).
Like the rest of New York, Harlem is made of up distinct neighborhoods with long histories. Its principal streets are West 125th Street, running east to west, now called Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Lenox Avenue, or Malcolm X Boulevard, which runs north and south. From St. Nicholas Avenue, walk east on West 125th Street to the neighborhood's best-known landmark, the Apollo Theater at #253, where generations of black entertainers, including Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington, headline, and where many others - including James Brown and Gladys Knight - got their start on amateur night. On the south side of West 125th, at #144, is the Studio Museum of Harlem, a showcase of African and African-American art. Turn right at Lenox, walk south to West 120th Street, and turn left into Mount Morris Historic District, whose handsome brownstones are enjoying a rivival. Turn left again at Marcus Garvey Memorial Park, and left on Weest 121st Street to return to Lenox. Turn right up Lenox to the twin blue awnings that mark the entrance of Sylvia's. Fill up on fried chicken, spareribs, and collard greens, then walk it off en route to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, on West 135th Street, and the Abyssinian Baptist Church (132 West 138th), Harlem's first African-American church (1808). From here it's a short walk west to West 138th and 139th Streets between Adam Clayton Powell and Frederick Douglass Boulevards. Known as "Strivers Row" since well-to-do blacks began moving here in the 1920s and 1930s, these are two of the most beautiful blocks in all New York.
From City Walks: New York: 50 Adventures on Foot by Martha Fay