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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Moving On Up

125th Street Subway
Photo by myself of the subway station on 125th Street and Broadway, in Harlem.

What looks like a bridge in the middle of the city are the elevated tracks of the subway. A 2003 article in The Times describes how the structure was being renovated.

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Mark and I drove through Harlem this weekend. We're not in that neighborhood often, but we noticed something interesting - lots of tourists. There were people wandering around, looking obviously out of place.

It used to be that the word 'Harlem' meant 'great unchartered territory not to be traversed by non-residents'. It was known for the Apollo Theater on 125th and Fredrick Douglas Boulevard and for its being a thriving Afro-American neighborhood. Harlem was popularized by the television show 'The Jeffersons', in the 70's and 80's.

People made the trip to Sylvia's, a soul food restaurant at 126th Street and Lenox Avenue. Then Bill Clinton located his New York City offices there, in 2001.

And now there are tourists sauntering the streets. I have to wonder what it is they're looking for - a more authentic New York? a remedy for their curiosity? a bit of grit and danger? (Rest assured, Harlem seems rather safe).

I hope they found what they were looking for.

Related posts: On Looking Like a Tourist On Holiday and Tourists For a Day

15 comments:

Hilda said...

I wish someone would invent a way to make elevated tracks more aesthetic. I don't know which is worse, your steel girders or our concrete posts. But it's good to hear that Harlem is not as dangerous or scary as it used to be.

Carolyn said...

AS always great pic. When I finally get to New York. I am going everywhere! Just to say I have been there!

Paz said...

Not surprisingly, there's lots to see and do in Harlem.

Paz

Kitty said...

Hi Hilda
I agree, these things often really break up a neighborhood. In some rare cases, a neighborhood will not be divided by an elevated train. Astoria, in Queens, comes to mind.

In Boston, where there are similar overpasses, neighborhood lines are drawn by these things. Several were dismantled after the Big Dig (where traffic was rerouted below ground). I think parks were planned in the empty spaces.

Hi Carolyn
thanks dear! You should visit! It's a fun place to run around and sightsee.

Hi Paz
Yes! I wish Mark and I had lingered there more. Next time.

Fredrik said...

I'm not surem but I think it's popular to visit the hood because of it's former rep. Nice bw convert!

PJ said...

Last night Garden Story was devoted to the growth of parks in NYC and how they were incorporating existing industrial elements and historic sites into them. Apparently there are extensive plans to do more. What really interested me was that Battery Park is the most popular tourist destination in NYC. I KNOW!

Kizz said...

When was that taken? I was RIGHT there on Saturday afternoon! With no camera battery life, though.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Love the photo!! I agree with Hilda though, I'm not a fan of the look of elevated tracks and they block too much daylight.

I've rarely popped up to Harlem. Only 3times in the 8years I've lived here. I should explore the area further.

ken mac said...

Harlem is safe on the weekends. But I have been up there during the week and a sketch component still exists. Many businesses are shuttered and if you are off the main track you do have to watch your back a bit. I love it!

Anonymous said...

Businesses are shuttered because of the rezoning of 125th st. They are preparing 125th st for major high density development (ie. hotels, class-A office space, theaters, restaurants, etc.).

ken mac said...

businesses in the heart of Harlem are shuttered because the residents dont' have money! Not everyone is looking to move into a high rise.

Tammy said...

Is that a house?

• Eliane • said...

There's a lot to discover in Harlem. So much history there. I am pretty ignorant about this neighborhood - besides CPN, 125th, the Abyssinian Church and Striver Row, I admit I don't have must clue. But I should explore!

Kitty said...

Hi Fredrick
Thanks! I'll have to revisit soon for more photos.

Hi PJ
huh, interesting. I wonder why that is? Maybe because BPC is close to Ground Zero? I see tons of visitors around toting Century 21 shopping bags.

I don't go there often enough. It's a nice park, I have to say.

Hi Kizz
Mark and I zipped through Sunday morning, so we missed you. I wish we'd stopped and walked around a little but we were tired and just wanted to get stuff done.

Funny coincidence!

Hi Fish
Agreed. I've been to Sylvia once. A friend lives around 125th and I went to the area to visit. And that's it. We're almost never there.

Hi Ken
I bet it's spooky late at night. But I'm with you - there is something about a sketchy neighborhood that NYers somehow appreciate. We're weird like that.

Hi Anon
interesting! I'll have to look into the future development. There are some really nice townhouses up there.

Hi Ken
A high rise would really disrupt the neighborhood. It always happens doesn't it, where new people displace the neighborhood people.

Hi Tammy
The structure is the subway station. It looks odd, hanging off the structure, I agree.

Hi Elaine
I agree, I think it's a neighborhood that will be even more visible as time goes on.

Sylvia said...

Very nice photo.