8 Things You’re Missing If You Don’t Visit Harlem

Harlem, on the north side of Manhattan, hasn’t always had the best reputation and, in fact, many travelers have avoided this area of the city. Once characterized as a rough neighborhood where one was likely to get into trouble, Harlem has been a predominately African-American community since the 1920s. Harlem served as a major cultural center for African-Americans and many immigrant groups throughout the 20th century, which means the neighborhood is rich in history and significance. These days, Harlem should be a must-visit for anyone traveling through the Big Apple—to not go is to miss too much.

8. Morris-Jumel Mansion

Harlem was originally founded in 1658 by the Dutch; the area is named after Haarlem in the Netherlands. The Morris-Jumel Mansion was built over a century later, in 1765, by retired British Colonel Roger Morris. Today, the house is the oldest house in the borough of Manhattan. The house has had many celebrity inhabitants since that time, with the most famous being George Washington himself. Washington used the house as a vantage point to direct his Continental Army against the British during the Revolution. Today, the house is not only a treasure trove of Palladian detailing, but also host to many cultural and educational events, such as art shows by international art stars. The house has been designated a New York City landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

Morris-Jumel Mansion

7. Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Although the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains unfinished, it claims 4th place on a list of largest Christian churches not just in the Big Apple, but in the whole world. There’s also debate about whether or not it is the largest Anglican cathedral in the world. The cathedral, originally designed with a Byzatine-Romanesque Revival sensibility, was built in the late 1800s. Ongoing construction in the early 20th century saw the design switched to a Gothic Revival plan. The church was damaged in a large fire in 2001 and underwent reconstruction; it reopened in 2008, but construction is still ongoing. The cathedral features the longest Gothic nave in the U.S., as well as the largest rose window. Thanks to its size, the cathedral is often to host to large events, including art exhibitions, and it functions as the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York City.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine
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