125th might be the heart of Harlem, but it is no longer the soul

By September 10, 2019North America, USA
Harlem - Pop's Barber

Harlem - buildingsOn July 31st I flew into New York City for a one night stay before I headed overseas for my off season travels. I just happen to be there on a Wednesday night and I was able to finally go to Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater.

I arrived by subway about 2 hours ahead of the start time so I chose to walk around and eventually grab dinner. I started off walking from the subway station west to Morningside and then south along the park there to 116th St where I turned to head east. All along the way I could not help but admire all the older buildings (most around 4-6 stories tall). Each of these contained peoples homes and small businesses on the ground floor. I was simply one of many just walking around the neighborhood and I loved it. The real highlight was when I passed the building used for Pop’s Barber Shop in the Netflix show Marvel’s Luke Cage (corner of 119th & Malcolm X) (see cover photo).

Harlem - Amy Ruth's interior

interior of Amy Ruth’s

I looked online to see where people recommended eating dinner. Their were several Dominican restaurants and pizza joints, but Amy Ruth’s stuck out as some where I wanted to try with their authentic “soul food”, which is really just southern comfort food I am used to. I got meatloaf, cole slaw, fried okra, and corn bread and boy was it tasty! Way too much food for one person, but I gave it a good try.

Harlem - Amy Ruth's dinnerAfter dinner I moseyed back toward 125th St where the Apollo Theater is and was amazed at the difference one block made. All of a sudden I was surrounded by big box stores and brand names. It could have been any mall in America and not the heart of Harlem. A good example is that surrounding the Apollo Theater is a Red Lobster, Banana Republic, and Game Stop. Welcome to gentrification!

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