Take a stroll through East Harlem and you’ll find a vibrant, culturally diverse neighborhood, which is evident no matter which direction you look. East Harlem is also known as Spanish Harlem, El Barrio, and “The Neighborhood,” as it is home to a population that represents Hispanic immigrants, primarily from Puerto Rico, as well as from Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. These immigrants brought their cultures with them, in the form of music, dance, art, and food. During the day, you’ll find the neighborhood filled with opportunities to experience Latin culture. Both the salsa dance craze and the graffiti style of art were born right in East Harlem. There are many great places to sample authentic cuisine, from Rao’s (where you cannot get a table unless you inherit one, and any reservations must be booked years in advance) to sidewalk carts, where you can get the best “street meat” to be had in NYC.
In East Harlem you’ll find a number of innovative educational opportunities in the form of specialized and charter schools that are considered top-notch. Many of these have very competitive admissions criteria and offer curricula that focus on creativity and social awareness. Such schools are a draw for young families that want to raise their children in an educational system that goes above and beyond the standard.
The vibe of East Harlem is one of community and neighbors that interact with each other routinely. There are many small, family-owned and -operated businesses and restaurants that have been neighborhood anchors for years. As you stroll through East Harlem, you will be immersed in sights, sounds and flavors that are straight from Latin American or the Caribbean islands, sometimes both at once. You can sample Puerto Rican-inspired plantain mofongo, which is mashed plantains with garlic and pork rinds, from local sidewalk carts. Or if it is a hot summer’s day, you might enjoy a Mexican-inspired licuado, which is a blended drink similar to a smoothie, made with milk, fruit, and ice. Sometimes, spices, citrus juices, and sugar are added. Although you will find an abundance of authentic cuisine and music no matter where you look in East Harlem.
Prefer to cook at home? East River Plaza offers Target, Costco, and Aldi stores, all of which offer fresh food at reasonable prices.
East Harlem housing consists of more affordable walk-ups, low-rise pre-war buildings, brownstones, and is dominated housing complexes. You can find some comparatively large apartments at reasonable price points, and even some rent-stabilized apartments. Luxury co-op and condo units are being built on the southern boundary of East Harlem.