but for some reason, people i find myself around seem to either be afraid of harlem, seem to think it's awful and undeserving of praise, and/or think harlem is its own borough or in the bronx.
(for those who don't know new york city is made of 5 boroughs: the bronx, brooklyn, manhattan, staten island, queens. manhattan - where the harlem neighborhood is - is often referred to as "the city" or new york city, even though the other 4 boroughs are equally a part of the actual city. it's confusing. but it works.)
the reasons i bring this up is...
i think harlem is great and albeit rough around the edges - a really beautiful, diverse, safe and historical neighborhood to live in. we live in a beautiful brownstone, that is among many other brownstone rowhouses - some of the most beautiful the city has to offer.
and so when i tell people i live in harlem, i am immediately judged. for the worst. why is that?
is it because these people have never been to harlem? or the last time they were in harlem, it wasn't so safe? or what?
someone at work was complaining they "had" to go to harlem for a dinner. really? a close friend in a slight lapse in brainpower assumed harlem was in the bronx. another set of friends thought harlem was its own borough.
harlem: is a manhattan powerhouse. and i know that the initial reason ben and i moved to this neighborhood was because it's "affordable" and we have way more space than we would anywhere else in manhattan. but now...it's more to us. and it's grown on us. and people say hi when you walk down the street. and say, "have a blessed day."
this really great chef, with a restaurant in harlem (yum), said it just right in his book yes, chef:
"Harlem may not be high-tech, but it's an interactive experience. People speak to each other on the street in Harlem."
occasionally people say not-so-nice things...but that's life.
and maybe, just maybe we won't always live in this neighborhood but there is a good chance we might. i thrive on character, on the underdog, on the under-appreciated and interesting.
the same chef also said,
"...when a lot of the Manhattan maps you can buy cut off at the top of Central Park---literally don't even bother to show Harlem---you know there is a disconnect."
so, chin up little harlem. someday people will stop judging you because you are different - they will know you are what makes manhattan diverse and what makes new york city strong :)
Chant another song of Harlem.
Not about the wrong of Harlem.
But the worthy throng of Harlem.
Proud that they belong to Harlem.
They, the overblamed in Harlem.
Need not be ashamed of Harlem.
All is not ill-famed in Harlem.
The devil, too, is tamed in Harlem.
-anonymous, circa 1925