Sitting at the northern end of Manhattan is Harlem, one of the city’s most prominent neighborhoods. Originally Harlem was founded as a Dutch village in the 17th century and has since transformed into a leading cultural and culinary center for Black Americans. In the 19th century the Harlem area was predominantly occupied by Jewish and Italian Americans until African American residents arrived in droves from the southern United States at the beginning of the 20th century in what came to be known as the Great Migration. During the 1920s, Harlem would become the center of the Harlem Renaissance — an intellectual and cultural revival of African American art, dance, music, fashion, and literature.
Today, the greater Harlem area is split into three sections: West, Central, and East Harlem. From containing the only remaining cast-iron watchtower left in the city to serving as the home for some of the country’s most influential cultural and artistic institutions, Harlem has much to discover. Read on to learn more about Harlem’s legacy in New York City.
1. Alexander Hamilton had his home in the neighborhood
From his humble beginnings as an orphan on the Caribbean island of Nevis, Alexander Hamilton went on to become the United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury. Spending a significant portion of his time in New York, Hamilton commissioned architect John McComb, Jr. to design a country home on 32 acres of land in Harlem. Known as the Grange, the house was completed in 1804, two years before Hamilton would be killed in a duel against Aaron Burr across the Hudson River in Weehawken, New Jersey. It would be the first and only home Alexander Hamilton ever owned.
Hamilton Grange has been relocated multiple times, and it is currently located at 409 W. 141st Street in St. Nicholas Park. The house is listed as a U.S. National Memorial, U.S. National Historic Landmark and is in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.