there will always be harlem.

i'm not sure what it is. i mean, i have some theories.
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


Eden Marie said...

so lovely that you're passionate about your neighborhood! :)

shayna said...

It's so strange that people judge you. I thought that it was the cool place to live, within the last 8-10 years. I love that people talk to each other. It's like you're a community. Crazy concept.

Linda M. said...

I love where you live. I love your brownstone. I love your access to transportation. I love some of the restaurants right around the corner from you. But NOT that franchise that is owned by someone who is pouting because Obama won the election! Seriously, he doesn't want to provide healthcare for his employees? I am glad we never go there. Anyway, I am very glad you live in Harlem because it's a part of the city I might never have explored otherwise and that would have been a shame. Well done, you!

Deidre said...

It is interesting what people think of when they think of different neighborhoods in cities, isn't it? I've never been to Harlem but I've heard AMAZING thing. New York City in general scares me - so Harlem is no different (Big cities! eep!).

I live in a super affluent part of Melbourne, Australia and people always give me a bit of attitude when I mention it. When TRUST I'm not made of money.

suzie said...

I know you're not judging me for my lapse in brainpower, so I'm grateful. Isn't it amazing that in NYC you can so quickly feel at home? And to really love and want to defend that home within moments of moving here. I feel fiercely loyal to Brooklyn, way more than to NC or UT, where we have lived for way longer. Love this post!

Peggy said...

I'm still a little confused. Is all of Manhattan Island the Manhattan borough? I need a borough map. Kristen and Shayna also lived in Harlem. I thought it was the only place to live! Love you

Linds said...

When I read Marcus' book I was drawn to this section. Obvi. I couldn't help but feel proud through association. I love your Harlem.