Led by Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden, a dear personal friend, The Studio Museum is an American contemporary art museum devoted to collecting, preserving, and showcasing the extraordinary work of African Americans and the African diaspora. The first museum of its kind, it’s a must-see for anyone visiting Harlem. In there, you’ll find works from some of the most acclaimed artists of African descent, such as Romare Bearden, Melvin Edwards, Betye Saar, and Jacob Lawrence. Their galleries are temporarily closed as they prepare for the construction of their new museum, but be sure to check out their calendar for events offsite through inHarlem initiative.
Located just north of Red Rooster, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is the world’s leading research library focused solely on the Black experience. Visitors can take either Guided or Self-Guided tours of the center to explore the resources and archive repository available. The center and cultural landmark also offers lectures, book signings, poetry readings, and movie screenings for the community to continue learning about African, African-American, and African Diasporic history.
Sometimes referred to as the “living room of the Harlem Renaissance,” the Harlem YMCA was established in 1901, and has hosted some of the most prolific cultural icons in African American history such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Harlem Y has remained a cultural hub of the neighborhood and offers recreational activities like classes in swimming, group exercise classes, dance, and arts and crafts for both children and adults are offered all year round, fostering a true sense of community.
Founded in 1936 by Mayor LaGuardia, La Marqueta is a marketplace that once sold Latin and Caribbean foods and dry goods not found anywhere else in the city, and was a bustling bazaar. Today, visitors can still browse the vendors selling inexpensive and tasty market goods.
The famous Abyssinian Baptist Church congregation traces its history to 1809, when seamen from the Ethiopian Empire, known as Abyssinia, led a protest against segregated church seating. That protest carried the congregation to several more places until it landed at it’s present location, and has since been heralded as one of the oldest African-American Baptist churches in the country. The famous church played a key role in the civil rights movement in Harlem, and continues to be a bastion in the community for all those who worship there. Attend a Sunday service in it’s beautiful Gothic and Tudor style designed building on Sundays at 9 am and 11 am.
Marcus Garvey Park is a staple of the East Harlem neighborhood. Named after Marcus Garvey, one of the founders of the black nationalist movement in the early twentieth century, the park is a space that nutures and entertains the entire community of both East and West Harlem. Across the street from my house, the park boasts three playgrounds, basketball courts, a recreation center, fitness equipment, an outdoor pool, a dogpark, an amphitheater and wifi hot spots. In the summer, you can take a stroll in the park to the tune of African drumming, children playing, and free concerts. In recent years, the park’s programs have expanded to include art installations and performances Shakespeare in the Park.
The world-renowned Apollo Theater is one of Harlem’s most important landmarks, and since it’s opening has played a major role in America’s music history. The theater hosted performances from famed icons like Billie Holiday, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sammy Davis Jr., launched the careers of several celebrities due to Amateur Night at the Apollo, and to this day hosts contemporary acts like Alicia Keys, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars.