Spanish Harlem starts at 96th street from 5th Ave. to the East River and continues north to 116h street. Puerto Rican immigration after the First World War established an enclave at the western portion of Italian Harlem (around 110th Street and Lexington Avenue), which became known as Spanish Harlem. The area slowly grew to encompass all of Italian Harlem as Italians moved out and Hispanics moved in another wave of immigration after the Second World War. The region is now home to a new influx of immigrants from around the world. Yemeni merchants, for example, work in local convenience stores alongside immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Italians live next to the influx of Central and South American immigrant populations. Other businessmen and local neighbors can be Korean, Chinese or Haitian in origin. It is also home to one of the few major television studios north of midtown, Metropolis (106th St. and Park Ave.), where shows like BET's 106 & Park and Chappelle's Show have been produced. Major medical care providers include Metropolitan Hospital Center, North General Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, which serves residents of East Harlem and the Upper East Side.
PARKS AND RECREATION
It’s easy to find green places to hang out, as two large parks surround both the east and west of Spanish Harlem. It is a short walk to The Conservatory Gardens in Central Park, as well as the Lasker Rink at 110th St – which in summertime is a pool and in the winter, a skating rink. Marcus Garvey Park, at 122nd St and Madison Ave, houses a full recreation center, amphitheater for live shows, exceptional rock formations and the only remaining fire tower built in the early 1900s.
Thomas Jefferson Park, located at 111th St and 1st Avenue, is a friendly neighborhood park packed to the brim with things to do. On busy days, runners circle the track while groups of friends shoot hoops, hit balls, and take advantage of the baseball and handball courts. The small recreation center on its grounds offers a fitness room, exercise equipment, and classes for those looking for a good workout. Thomas Jefferson Park is also a wonderful resource for local children and features a substantial playground, complete with swings and slides galore, as well as plenty of spaces for jumping, climbing, and carrying on. Inside the recreation center, the afterschool program provides more structured fun. And in the summer, the park takes on a whole new character when the outdoor pool is opened and families come out to use the barbeque grills and picnic tables.
In Spanish Harlem, you don’t have to catch the subway to have some fun. Camarades (2241 1st Avenue at 115th St.) is home to traditional Puerto Rican and Nuevo Latino cuisine, live music, DJ’s and great art exhibits. For some late night jazz make sure to visit the Creole Restaurant and Music Supper Club at 2167 Third Avenue and 118th St., where live jazz from some of the city’s best musicians runs till 2am. The Amor Cubano Restaurant at 2018 3rd Ave at 111th St. has a great house band and the place is always grooving!
To experience the real culture of El Barrio, spend the afternoon at El Museo Del Barrio (1230 Fifth Ave. and 104th St.) Right down the block is the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue,) as well as numerous museums along Museum Mile, running along Fifth Ave. from 82nd St to 105th St. Be sure to check out the stunning exhibits at The Museum for African Art on 110th St and 5th Ave. Boys and Girls Harbor at 1 East 104th Street has classes in dance, music and culture, and is home to New York’s legendary salsa musicians; performances and rehearsals are open to the public. Taller Boricua / Puerto Rican Workshop at The Julia De Burgos Latino Cultural Center (1680 Lexington Ave. and 105th St.) offers many cultural events, exhibits, and features a fantastic music and dancing series. PRdream.com, the 12-year old, award-winning web site on the history and culture of Puerto Ricans, altered the cultural landscape of East Harlem with the founding of its new media gallery and digital film studio called MediaNoche in 2003. MediaNoche continues to present technology-based art on Park Avenue and 102nd Street, providing exhibition space and residencies for artists and filmmakers working in new media.
Ricardo’s Steakhouse (2nd Ave between 110 and 111th Streets)
La Corsa (E.110th between Park and Lexington)
East Harlem Café (Lexington between 104th and 105th Streets)
Love Café (Pleasant Ave between 115th and 116th Ave)
Savoy Bakery (110th between Lexington and 3rd Ave)
La Tropezienne (1st Ave & 109th St)
Las Delicias Mexicanas (3rd Ave & 115th)
Lexington Social Food and Drink (Lexington & 103rd)
Camarades El Barrio (115th and 1st Ave)
Trains: The 4,5,6 Trains run along Lexington Ave. The 4,5 Trains run express and stop at 86th St and 125th St, and the 6 Train is local and stops at 96th, 103rd, 110th, 116th, and 125th St.
Buses: The M15 bus runs north along 1st Ave and south on 2nd Ave. The M101, M102, and M103 buses run north on 3rd Ave and south on Lexington Ave. On Madison Ave the M1 bus runs north and south along 5th Ave. The M2, M3, and M4 buses head north on Madison Ave, and south on 5th Ave. On 96th St the M96 runs east and west and heads across Central Park to the Upper West Side. The M106 bus runs crosstown along E.106th St and then cuts across the park at 96th St. On 116th St the M116 bus runs crosstown across 116th St.