Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Heart East Harlem

Sam and I moved to East Harlem on Halloween in 2008. We fell in love with the area right away, even before we moved in. We would "visit" our building – just staring up at the window of our new place months before our lease began. The area is very different than where I was living, the Upper East Side. East Harlem is a vibrant, diverse area. It's the sort of area that I always imagined living in when I thought about living in New York City.

I grew up near Manhattan, in Long Island, and my parents took me to visit the city a great deal growing up. Little Italy was my favorite. I thought about living there – I imagined it would be a place above a pastry shop. I loved those old buildings, the little shops, the street vendors selling everything from shirts to tiny turtles. It felt like a real city to me, which meant culture, traffic, noise, and grit. I loved to imagine what it was like for the people who lived there. I imagined people saying hello to each other in their buildings and on the way to work. I imagined getting coffee and pastries at a local shop and buying produce in small groceries. The Little Italy of my childhood (or my imagination) has changed, of course. It's a bit more of a tourist trap then I'd like to admit. Where my childhood vision of the city and reality converge is East Harlem. It's a community, a neighborhood. Unlike any other place I know in New York.

I love my neighbors, I love the restaurants, I love the languages flying around the streets on my walks, I love being a minority - the area is so culturally diverse it seems like everyone is. In the reality version of my city life I live above a Mexican restaurant. I have neighbors from all over: France, England, Haiti, and we're renting from a fantastic guy from Singapore. When I order Chinese food or a bottle of wine around here it's through bullet-proof glass. It's a bit gritty, but it's real.

I wanted to start this blog because I saw an area that I loved not being served by the traditional sites I would go to for information about New York City. I wanted to push myself to explore everything there was to see, taste and do in my new neighborhood, and I wanted to help other people get information on this great area.



  1. love SpaHa... I used to call it that when I worked real estate on the UES in 2006. Can I visit you sometime soon?

  2. This post makes me teary-eyed and happy. I love how you're both so excited to embrace a new neighborhood, and sometimes I feel us New Yorkers take the city for granted. Cheers for your exploration. I'm excited to see what you discover.

  3. Welcome to the Harlem bloggers club.

  4. I love your blog. I'm an East Harlem native and I'm so pleased that you appreciate the beauty and complexity of the community.

  5. Nice little story seems like a fantasy story, I love to live in fantasy, dreams fly through them, seems nice and amazing things anyway that's a little me haha
    Welcome I hope you had a nice life in here.

  6. You have described East Harlem to a tee! There really is no other neighborhood like it, and we are happy to share your passion for the community we have. East Harlem is really quite different from the touristy version of Manhattan that most of us know. Thanks for maintain such a devoted blog, us Harlemites appreciate it!